If AA Gil dines with The Blonde during his restaurant critiques then I first visited Forest Hill's new-ish pub The Signal with The Bald. She was only three months old at the time, but a whole three months older than the pub itself, which had only just re-opened for business. As a new mother, braving the outside world, I was looking for a comfy seat and some caffeine. The Signal delivered on both. Five months on, equipped with my Lewisham Card and a slightly hairier baby, I decided to return to sample some more things on the menu.
The Signal - whose name I assume is a nod to the railway, as it stands right opposite Forest Hill station - was once a popular pub called The Hob. Well known for its A-list comedy nights upstairs, it used to look a bit on the dark and dingy side. Today's freshly-painted exterior, complete with striped awnings above the doors, has the promise of a brighter experience inside. Hippo Inns have made the most of the space, furnishing it with mismatched tables and chairs, quirky art on the walls and high stools around the bar. There's a cute little coffee station, topped with rustic sausage rolls, and a little patio round the back. The whole place is bright and airy, not exactly groundbreaking but not try hard either, and manages to strike a great balance between offering lots of seating and feeling spacious.
Luckily for me and my mum friend, our lunchtime visit was on the quiet side. Plenty of room for buggies and high chairs, and not many people to worry about the odd bit of sass either. We begrudgingly skipped the wine and cocktail list and ordered two quarter chicken and chips. And a side salad. And some really delicious hot-out-of-the-oven homemade bread to start us off.
We didn't need a lot of help choosing what to eat - ROTISSERIE is painted onto the pub's facade, so we figured the roast chicken would be a winner. Hot ceramic platters, crispy skin, garlic mayo...yes!! The salad was simple, if a little overdressed and wilting slightly in its warmed bowl. But we're not professional critics and both readily agreed that the food filled a hole rather well.
This place has serious potential; it's in a great location, has wonderful values and the space to shine as Forest Hill's top pub. However I'm a nosey person, happy to ask questions and seek out the details when they're not brought to my attention. Insights into the seasonal menu (their rotisserie burns untreated English charcoal, the sausages are locally sourced from the brilliant The Butchery up the road) and evening happenings (quiz and open mic nights, salsa classes) would be easy tidbits for the staff to offer up to diners as they work the room. For there's a lot going on at The Signal, and many reasons to return again and again. Perhaps for the £10 burger&comedy deal on a Wednesday, or for the upcoming Easter Saturday event. With a few more locals dropping in to sample a beer or a bird, picking up the atmosphere and giving the staff some much needed practice in casual talking up, it might well become The Bald's favourite.
The Signal offer Lewisham Card holders 25% off all food from Monday - Thursday.
Words/ photos by Laura Ellerby and The Signal.
Still missing out on savings in over 130 local businesses? Order your Lewisham Card here and start saving now!