The Forge, Shedfield: Food review
When Kemal Aksoy took over the Old Forge Inn in Shedfield, the people of Portsmouth were delighted to see their favourite kebab van man taking a step up in the catering world.
Kemal, who was known for his doners and koftes served from a van in Hilsea, took the helm of the pub last year and spent months gutting the place. He finally unveiled his carvery-restaurant last October and people have been flocking to it ever since.
We visit on a nice sunny Sunday with a toddler in tow. We’ve been told The Forge is massive so mistakenly think there’s no need to book. Luckily we are at the early end of Sunday lunch, so they just about manage to squeeze us in as a couple leave. Phew.
Yes the place is massive, but it’s also packed. The car park filled up as we were unpacking the toddler kit from the car.
There’s a nice mix of people, all drawn by the wonderful three-meat carvery that’s spread out and it’s even better £9 price tag (which is cheaper at £7 during the week).
There are plenty of great places to go for a roast in the Meon Valley but one thing the others don’t do is a big plate, pile it up, pick your own, set meal, the likes of which are normally seen at a Toby Carvery. Kemal has certainly pitched it right. Good quality meat, a great range of veg, and reasonable prices, topped off with a nice setting and friendly staff.
The Forge has been done up well – and it looks bright, clean and enticing. There are decorations from Kemal’s homeland of Turkey. Colourful lamps adorn the walls and there is just a touch of glitz. There’s also plenty of space between tables – a welcoming point for any families with children, or wheelchair users.
It looks great but you can see it’s still a work in progress – we pass tools out back, set aside and obviously mid-build of a covered smoking area.
The place is set up with a large bar in the middle, where waitresses take your food and drink order, and issue tokens for the carvery. We pay up for two.
Today’s meat is turkey, beef or gammon – and we go in for a piece of each. Don’t worry if you’re a veggie, there were also three options for those preferring their Sunday roast sans meat.
We wait in a small queue, but are pleased to see Kemal front and centre, organising all the veg. There are two others carving, putting on a tantalising display of glistening meat.
Following this a wide range of veg and accompaniments, a serve-yourself affair. We try everything; it’d be rude not to.
On our plates are stuffing balls, Yorkshire puddings, carrots, parsnips, roast potato, mashed potato, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage and sultana, lashings of gravy, and probably a few other things that I’ve forgotten about. It may sound greedy, but surely that’s the advantage of a carvery – doing all the things that you wouldn’t normally at home.
It’s all exceptionally tasty – I regret not piling on more stuffing balls, and my partner falls in love with the red cabbage/sultana combo. It’s a great roast.
And with empty plates, when we think it can’t get better, it does – there’s a list of desserts priced at just £4. We plump for the blackcurrant cheesecake, which comes served with cream and is a huge portion, and a plum tart and custard. Both delicious. Clearly handmade, and there’s something nice about the home-made charm.
The drinks aren’t badly priced too – £4 for a pint of Amstel and £2.40 a lemonade. Our total bill comes to just over £32 but my gosh are we full for it.
We leave as happy customers, with plans to return. Well done Kemal. A top Pompey lad, showing the Meon Valley how it’s done.
The Forge, Shedfield 01329 833610
Ratings (out of five):