This isn’t my first visit to Forhaus. Forever to be known as ‘for a house’, you can have a wonderfully exorbitant time. It is set in a beautiful location, and the rooftop bar, a new addition to the ever expanding space, smacks of money. Mine.
But on a rather drizzly Friday afternoon, the overarching mood was, ‘**** it, we’re on holiday.’
And so it was that we found ourselves inserted into some rather expansive soft furnishings looking out onto the damp veranda, the railing - safe enough to protect drunken clientele but low enough not to obscure the beautiful architecture of the old synagogue (now a café/bar) in front.
I have weirdly mixed feelings about this here ex-synagogue. Once, a few years back it was the chosen location of the staff Christmas ‘do’. A typically rambunctious affair that ends quite unceremoniously when the last teacher standing, is well, no longer standing. This phenomenon usually occurs somewhere between 3 and 5 am. Or so I am told, I have never been upstanding long enough to witness it personally.
This particular choice of venue was a little disconcerting to say the least. It seemed more than a little disrespectful to be shooting tequila in any religion’s place of worship, albeit this particular sanctum holding the status of ‘ex’, it just didn’t shoot right. All evening I felt as if I might meet a furious rabbi who would wag his finger at me for being so utterly impertinent. Which probably explains why I didn’t make it past 10pm, slipping out of the sacred doors, with the vague excuse of ‘tired’. It might also go some way in explaining why we have not returned for any other social gatherings, Christmas or otherwise.
Anyway, opposite, on arrival, the waiter, armed with a selection of exotic looking tattoos and an attentive demeanour handed us the freshly-printed drinks menu. There was an interesting selection, ranging from the classic Cosmos and martinis to the more enigmatic, ‘The 5 senses’, a concoction featuring Campari, prosecco and coconut liquor. Being the traditionalist that I am, I opted for the standard Margarita, mainly because any time I opt for anything else, I instantly regret it. My mum, being the more adventurous of our duo decided on the ruby-red gin with raspberry tonic.
To be honest, I don’t think there could have been a smaller glass in which to house a marg. And at 7 and a half euros a pop, it seemed a little on the stingy side. My mother’s however, came in a goldfish bowl on a slender stem. For the first time ever, I regretted my choice. Mine was tasty enough but the raspberry creation was fresh and tangy, made much more appealing with the addition of a caramelised slice of blood orange. My unadorned choice seemed rather sad in comparison.
Not feeling the cocktail vibe, we decided to move on to ‘a bottle of red for two, please Mr Waiter’. But not first without perusing the accompanying nibbles. The selection is small but well-rounded enough to give a few options to enhance the wine experience. And, after a brief discussion, Salmon tartare and a small version of the tapas platter. As on holiday as we might be, with the cheapest red on the menu being Dunaj at a princely 33 euros. A very palatable option in my Slovak experience, we went with that.
We played the game of sniff the wine, which quite honestly, makes me feel rather silly. A hang up, I’m sure, from my working class welsh roots, we drank 20-20 out of the bottle and cider from the can back in the good ol' days. And there was no sniffing of any sort involved. With all the pretentiousness that you might expect from a ‘rooftop’ bar with a ‘Cigar room’, our observant waiter, after the customary nod of approval, imperially poured our wine. By ‘poured’, I mean more drizzled. Like a balsamic drip that gets flourished on a gastro pub’s plating. When he turned his back, I topped them up. ‘Real’ glass style.
The nibbles arrived after a rather long 30 minutes or so, given that everything was cold, it seemed a little excessive. But still, the plates looked pretty. The tapas arranged neatly on the obvious choice of receptacle, the wooden cheeseboard. The salmon on a rectangular pompous black slate.
Sadly, both were somewhat lacking. The tartare, was, exactly what it said on the tin, I guess. Salmon and avocado, with little else to speak of. Said salmon was on its last fins begging for some kind soul to add vinegar, salt, lemon. My lord a few sprigs of coriander? Anything.
And so the idea of margarita salmon was born. A careful, delicate blend of salmon, avocado and coriander, doused in tequila, salt and lime, with a generous spattering of coriander leaf, served quite probably with a baked nacho though possibly a tortilla. Though the former, we unanimously decided would add the necessary crunch. I’ll let you know how that little experiment goes, when we get round to giving it a kitchen road test.
The tapas-y thing was fine. Boring TBH. A sad selection of blotchy chorizo and other such meats (for my carnivourous companion), some plastic, red-pepper coated cheese and a few large inoffensive olives. Well not to me anyway. My mother, though, is highly offended by most olives. She did try. But again, after many years of obligatory olive tasting was once again, very not amused.
We left, 70 something euro lighter. Pleased with our lingering afternoon, and content to return to the sofa watching a few episodes of ‘Fred's Last Resort’.
Did we have a lovely time? Indeed, we did. Will we return? Probably not. For the price, it really wasn’t worth it. The view from my balcony, isn’t half bad- a somewhat more countrified vibe -fields and trees and what not. I’ll nip to Lidl and grab a 4-euro bottle of Dunaj. Hell, make it two for that price. I’ll steep the salmon or whatever it is you do to tartared said fish (more research needed obvs.) and we’ll while away another afternoon, and continue into evening cheapskate style.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!