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The Mag: FOOD SPECIAL: EATING OUT Perfect treat of stylish delights.

Byline: ZOE CHAMBERLAIN

THE FOREST, Dorridge, Solihull

THE Forest is approaching its first anniversary since a pounds 1 million refurbishment last October.

And with two AA rosettes and the highest Midland rating in the Good Food Guide already under its belt, we decided to see what was happening there one year on.

It has a wonderful ambience combining modern style with the cosiness of the classic old English pub and, with celebrated chef Ian Mansfield in residence, my friend Kay and I knew we were in for a treat.

First we shared a bowl of olives (pounds 2) whilst enjoying aperitifs at the bar.

Then I chose warm asparagus, pancetta and pecorino cheese to start (pounds 5). The contrast of the crispy pancetta, crumbly cheese and soft asparagus was a delight to the senses. But the saltiness of the Italian bacon and the depth of the cheese flavour overpowered the asparagus.

The main course more than made up for this. My pan-fried fillet of seabass (pounds 13.50) was wonderfully tender and tasty, particularly as it was accompanied by colcannon potato and red peppers. The whole dish was drizzled in balsamic vinegar reductions.

Kay was pleased with her starter -prawn and salmon cake (pounds 5) -with its delicious herb tartare dressing. For main course, she chose confit duck leg (pounds 12.50) which was served with a butter bean puree, sauteed giroles and lemon and parsley butter. She loved the combination of the sweet mushrooms, rich duck and sharp citrus fruit. We shared side orders of tomato and basil salad and pureed potato (pounds 2 each) although it turned out that the meals were substantial enough on their own.

For dessert, I couldn't resist the strawberry gratin which was drizzled in honey and served with a rich mascarpone ice cream (pounds 5.50) but it was Kay's mixed berry Pavlova (pounds 5) that had the 'wow' factor. The bill came to pounds 64, including two glasses of wine, a Smirnoff Ice and an orange juice.

There's a fixed-price menu on Monday and Tuesday evenings with two courses available for pounds 12.50 and three courses for pounds 17 including a glass of wine.

The Forest, Dorridge, Solihull (01564 772120)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Sep 21, 2003
Words:369
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