Forte Kitchen is exactly what a restaurant in Winchester should be. It’s a building with history, although you are hard pushed to find one in Winchester without it.
Previously serving as a tea rooms, the Forte Kitchen company took over with little disruption to the already loyal following. Keeping the restaurant serving as the tea rooms for half a year, the Forte Kitchen team slowly permeated the old menu with their inspired new recipes.
The restaurant is full of character, redesigned to be modern but with a cosy and bustling ambience. There is a lot to be said for a restaurant with all its tables in view of the staff. The service is flawless and attentive, but not overbearing. And the feel of the place is unique, which in a city that runs on restaurants, is actually harder to find than it should be.
Amongst all the great chefs and brands swooping down on Winchester, the independents are firmly holding their own here. Racking up nominations for reputable awards, like coming runner-up the Hampshire Life Food and Drink Award for Restaurant Of The Year 2015. Proving that there is something quite special about this almost hidden treasure.
The menu is made up of fresh twists on classic dishes. I stopped in for brunch and had the pleasure of receiving the poached eggs with mackerel on sourdough bread. This was charmingly presented, a feast of colours, and as I asked the waitress where it was all from, she promptly reeled off a list of local sources.
The local trading that goes into the restaurant’s menu is of high importance to them all. The mackerel is from Johnson’s fishmongers in Portsmouth, and the bread from Hoxton Bakehouse, Southampton. The spinach from The Watercress Company in Bishops Sutton, Tomatoes from the Tomato Stall, Isle Of White (very juicy), and the eggs from New Farm, Kings Sombourne. All exquisitely delicious and supporting local businesses.
Above all the service should be celebrated at Forte Kitchens, the owners are always on hand, working towards its smooth running. Either in the kitchen or on the floor, the two owners have made a wonderful addition to the Winchester restaurant scene. Forte Kitchen is a treat to find and sits off of Parchment street, looking over the ancient city. The restaurant is open from breakfast to late lunch, climb the stairs to seek out this rare delight.