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May 27, 2012 05:57 PM

Forest and Main --Ambler Brewpub

Went there for the first time tonight.

Finally, a brewpub IN THIS AREA that does proper English Bitters, served at cellar temp, in the right glass. The beer is very good, and I care. We had the Spring Bitters, Tiny Tim (also a Bitter), and Noir (dark famhouse ale); all served off hand-pump. And again, I care.

Beers are focused on either English or Belgian istyles, and the selection (about 7 to 9) is impressive for the size of the place.

Service was good, and the food was very good as well. The menu is real limited, but everything that we ordered was well prepared and tasty. We got the mussels for an appetizer to share. The burgers (while very pricey) were fantastic; Aged Cheddar, and Bacon Mayonnaise. Damn good. Fish and Chips were also nicely done.

I forgot my Growlers; a tragic mistake. But I will be back. Next time you want to throw back a few, go give these guys some business.

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  1. Thanks for the scoop JK. Got thirsty just reading your review.

    8 Replies
    1. re: givemecarbs

      Thanks for the report Joe. I was in the other day as well. stopping for a quick beer before getting take out at Rosey's BBQ down the street (which by the way has improved since I was last there... ).

      Regarding growlers. They are only doing growlers on the NON cask beers. I asked one of the brewers about that, and he said that the cask wastes lots of beer when filling a growler, and also he doesnt think that it maintains its integrity. So you can get the Kinch or any of their Belgians but not the mild, the stout or the Bitter. I think I heard one fo the belgians was 16 for a growler which is a fair price.

      Regarding the quality of the bitter, I would say its in the top three in the area. I personally prefer Ship Inn in Milford, and when you can get Uncle Teddy's on cask either at Victory or several fo the bars around here that have casks, I like it better. But it is a great bitter. I also really enjoyed their mild, and they have a spring bitter which is very nice as well.

      A friend of mine said their burgers are cooked in duck fat, so that may have something to do with the great flavor. And ten dollars these days is not too bad for a well executed burger. The dish I have not had that I want is their lamb shank with spaetzel.

      1. re: cwdonald

        Thanks. I wasn't expecting to get Cask Bitters by growler. The lower carbonation and lower alcohol content usually don't translate. I am hoping that Noir will make it in a Growler; I can order up a pint of Bitters while I wait for my growler fill...

        I haven't been to Rosey's yet, will need to stop in there.

        I like Uncle Teddy, but I have a harder time finding that regularly, and if I do, its usually not cellar temp (often despite assurances that it is ). I understand that the broader market expects a cooler beer. And Milford is a long haul for me.

        Good info on burgers (Duck Fat), I can see that now that you mention it. I agree with you that ten dollars isn't bad, but they are charging 15 for the burger. A little steeper than most (all) places I can think of locally; that said it was really good and a lot better than most. I'd get it again.

        The lamb and the chicken entrees passed by us as we were eating, both looked good.

        1. re: JoeKaner

          We ate at Forest & Main for the 3rd time this past weekend. I've now had the fish & chips, the lamb shank & spaetzel, & the burger. I swore I would never order a $15 burger, but my wife & I both did.! loved it. just perfect. I'd order it again & it pains me to admit it. My 2 year old inhaled the fish & chips, which I has on trip #1. They're solid bordering on very good. I've tasted every beer they're had on tap, I think. The british beers are better than the Belgian inspired. The kinch on hand pump was a revelation, so great! My wife enjoyed the very light but tasty Pigeontown.
          If I built a brewpub, it would look exactly like this joint. The most unique place in the suburbs for a beer, methinks.

          1. re: knappy123

            Thanks for the great report. I am curious what you do not like about the belgians. Gerard has won award in the past nationally for his saisons. And I am curious what you thought of the lamb?

            Btw if you have a chance, try the pierogies. They are very good. My favorite were the english pea. Think mushy peas inside a delicate hand made pierogie.

            1. re: knappy123

              Knappy, I see you brought your two year old. How kid friendly was it? I live just a few blocks from Forest and Main but i have yet to try it because I always have my three year old with me. We take her to restaurants and she is fantastic, but everything i heard was that it was a great place, but not very kid friendly (small cramped size, no other families there etc.). If it worked for your two year old I may just head over with my daughter.

              1. re: AmblerGirl

                I have seen kids ranging from new borns to six years old there. They do have high chairs. I think the biggest issue is the food menu. No children's menu, so you are limited to things like: the cheese plate, the popcorn, fish and chips, pierogies. Also while they have milk, they have no soda at all there (perhaps not a bad thing from a parents perspective.. .). At least one of the brewers I have seen there with his wife and young baby. So I think it is child accepting, but whether your child will be happy to eat there depends on them.

                1. re: cwdonald

                  Thanks for the questions, fellow 'hounds. As for the Belgians, a group of us went to F & M after our usual Ultimate frisbee game at nearby Temple Ambler. We all had flights, followed by pints. The consensus opinion on Lunaire & Solaire were that they were too light, needed more of that Saison-esque spicy complexity & maybe a bit more sourness. The Vera is great & everyone lapped that up. I am not trashing their belgians: I just think the English inspired beers are better. As for kids, it is very kid friendly IMO as long as it's not crowded. We took our son there at 5 on a Saturday hoping for outdoor seating, but no such luck. There was already a couple with an infant outside, btw. We sat inside & the room soon filled up with 4 other tables, somewhat surprisingly 2 tables were populated by 2 separate groups of senior ladies. So, I would say they seem to be attracting folks of all ages, which is great! I assume it's less kjd friendly as the night goes on & it gets more crowded & a younger demographic.
                  As for the lamb, reasonably priced at $17, I thought it was very tasty but was disappointed by the spaetzle. Having grown up on German food from a Pennsylvania Dutch dad who is a fantastic cook, I am a bit tough to please when it comes to my favorite German side dish. The arugula was a nice compliment. I don't recall any sauce or anything to soak up with the spaetzle, either, but my memory is a bit beer infused from that evening so I could be wrong.

                  1. re: knappy123

                    I liked the Noir over the Lunaire. The Lunaire was too sour for my taste; not knocking it, but I'm not the biggest fan of sours. I was expecting a little more oak/smoke from the chard. barrels (just my preconception). The sour was well pronounced and should have earned a mention in the description.

                    The Bitters are off the hook.

                    Ditto what others said on the kids, I continue to see a large age range. Saturday night there was a really small baby in a car carrier in the bar. Baby was happily sleeping while mom and dad had a few.

      2. Let me start this by saying; I just have not gotten there as of yet. good intentions, road to hell etc. . However, there has been a recent sour note. The attitude it takes to charge $15 for a burger in Ambler PA. Peter Luger's burger has been frequently noted as NYC's best burger at $8.95 plus $ 1.95 for a high quality cheese topping. Of course one can pay much more for a special burger with truffles at some Manhattan locations. Check other high end Philly burger places and note the prices. We passive allow this type pricing with no complaint and burger prices will raise out of proportion to value, quality, venue or reason. Other prices look fair and heard the ale is great! But , come on guys, lets get a burger priced for everyman to enjoy. .

        3 Replies
        1. re: Bacchus101

          I would agree with you Bacchus...... and I have not had the burger yet. But good friends of mine did... and loved it. One of them made a point to go back to the place the next night just to have the burger again. Whether it is good value or not, some people certainly enjoy it.

          1. re: cwdonald

            Certainly good to hear that it is a superior burger: I would hope so. Of course many would rather pay $15 for a superior burger than a piece of fish. I suppose F&M should be applauded for their version of this much loved hand food. I think the "old saw" goes;" Hamburger by any other name is twice the price". In this case it is any F&M burger is 3xs the price. I am sure many can afford to pay the price, happily. Just would like to see a neighborhood pub offering a burger at neighborhood prices. Perhaps two burgers with one at a still upscale $10. CW based on your friends report I am almost tempted to try one.

            My sensitivity to the price of dogs and burgers derived from an experience at a farmers market where a family with 4 young kids, 2 adults stop at a stand for 6 dogs on a Saturday afternoon. At $5.95 each($36) and no alternative they had to walk away empty handed. A damn shame on many levels.

            1. re: Bacchus101

              Before I had the burger, I did fill out their customer survey & wrote that I thought all prices were spot on except $15 was too high a price point for a burger. Having now had the burger, I'd spend $15 all over again. It's excellent. I know my wife is at 20 manning tonight & their cheeseburger is $15, so iI don't think it's an outrageous rate. Keep in mind, F & M beer is main attraction & a flight of home made brew is only $6.50 & a pint of delicious bitter is only $4.50. So, get the burger & a bunch of beers, and you'll be a happy soul & happily pay the bill at night's end.

        2. Quite nice to see a non-chain small operation succeeding. Yes the house is very small, the rooms are hard on all surfaces, thus very loud. Friday night was very busy even on the early side. I only had the saison beer which I found excellent. The lamb shank was of good size and nicely prepared with a subtle and flavorful red sauce. i am unsure if the couscous was a complementary choice as a part of the dish. Even early the service was uneven. Nice guy, helpful ,then a switch to a girl who only showed up when asked for a check. Tipped the guy, stiffed the girl. If you like good brew, loud and friendly dining and drinking and want to support your local boys do give F&M a try. Lots of good stuff here.

          1. We finally made it in last weekend and love this place! Really good beer, which is a rare thing in area brewpubs. I like Belgians and my husband likes English so this is the perfect place for us.

            The food is perfect but not inexpensive. We enjoyed the fried chicken, cauliflower (YUM), burger, carrot salad and pea ravioli. Everyone loved the food. It was artfully prepared and designed with care. My son is still talking about the pickles. Bear in mind that they have a very brief menu and did not offer any specials when we visited. You may want to check the website before you head in so that you know there is something you would like to eat.

            Homespun Hipster is my take on the ambiance and decor. They create a welcome relaxing vibe in a very simple but beautiful environment. Service is warm but efficient. The employees seem to really embrace the mission of this restaurant and want to make every guest comfortable.

            1. Haven't replied back in a while, but Forest and Main continues to impress. We have made this a regular stop, and it does not disappoint.

              We missed the Ambler Oktoberfest proper (ended at 5PM) on Saturday, but had another good dinner here. The newly brewed Bier de Garde was just... fantastic.

              Agent Moosehead playing Kraftwek-esque tunes while you enjoy quality brews? Priceless.

              Did anyone catch the robot?