Forte is an eclectic fine dining restaurant located in the heart of downtown Jamestown, New York. Their menu offers a variety of ethnic flavors including Vietnamese short ribs, Japanese sushi, Thai noodle soup and Curried potpie. Yet seafood, burgers, gumbo and steak are also featured. Forte’s crimson walls and candlelit ambiance make it a hot spot for those wanting to unwind, eat, drink and be merry.
Forte is nestled alongside a classic theater with a radiating sign. Upon entry, we were greeted by a bar back splashed with a full-width mirror. A couple of high-rise tables presided on the adjacent wall, where some customers dined on the daily bar special of steak dinner and beer for a mere $12.00. It looked divine. Normally I would have taken a picture, but it would have been a tad creepy to photograph a perfect stranger’s meal.
Their extensive drink menu offers a myriad of beers, cocktails, wines, scotchs, whiskeys, cordials, and teas. The Fortini (pictured above) blends a secret fruit juice concoction with sweet liquors and is finished off with champagne. This sweet bubbly drink proved to be an ideal pre-dinner sip.
The dining room features twelve square tables draped with white linens, set for two to four guests. This intimate setting gives the impression that you are among the chosen few given the honor to feast at this restaurant. Due to limited seating, reservations are recommended. The elevated black ceilings give the room a spacious aura. Although the soft glow of candle light and wall sconces made it difficult to take clear pictures, it was easy to relax in the atmosphere’s tranquility.
The waitstaff appeared calm, cool and collected, elegantly weaving in and out of the tables serving the needs of their customers. Although our server was a self proclaimed “new employee” she was attentive, pleasant and easygoing.
Forte boasts hand-made Sushi from basic California rolls to specialty Sakka rolls (eel with avocado and cucumber). We chose the Green Dragon roll (pictured above). Roasted red pepper and cucumber were wrapped with seaweed and white rice and topped with avocado and broiled eel. The sweet, crispy, thick eel was among the best we have had. The Japanese symbol displayed in the center of the plate doubled as a spicy sauce for our sushi. The black dotted decor bordering the corners of the plate served as a sweetened and reduced soy sauce blend. Since our preference is to eat sushi with an abundance of sauce drizzled on top, we yearned for more of that specific sauce. It was delicious. Lastly, because the sushi was freshly made, it was cumbersome to pick up with chopsticks and fell apart before reaching our mouths. However, don’t you worry, we did not have any problems cleaning the plate.
Next came the homemade piping-hot dinner roll which caused me to make “this is delicious” moaning noises.
This freshly baked roll exceeded my expectations. When the crunchy crust was broke open, steam poured out of it’s fluffy belly, wafting a comforting bakery-like aroma. It was moist, doughy and crusty all at the same time. This steaming roll bathed in a pool of rich extra virgin olive oil. I took the liberty of showering the oil with Borsari seasoned salt, found on each table. It was the best choice I had made all day. All I can say is I am on a no carbohydrate diet, planned on just licking the crust for flavor and literally ate the whole thing (and my husband’s too).
My main meal was a maple braised duck leg that accompanied wilted kale and roasted sweet potatoes. The sweet-savory maple and apple glaze complimented the duck excellently. I was disappointed with the duck because, although it was not dry, it certainly was not moist or succulent. Let’s just say it was clearly overcooked. Typically duck leg on the bone is abounding with juices and this one did not meet my expectations. The thickly-cut sweet potatoes were either drenched in a sweet maple-like sauce or just soaking up the duck’s flavoring. Either way, they were roasted al dente, had a bite to them and paired well with the fowl. The wilted kale stood out from the crowd. It contained remnants of bitterness with a slight crunch and was seasoned to a salty perfection. In my opinion, the kale tasted as if it was simmered in chicken broth, which gave it an elevated earthy flavor.
My husband’s meal consisted of pan roasted Ribeye topped with sauteed garlic. It was served with a heaping helping of potato hash with hot peppers. The steak was cooked medium-rare and paired well with the sauteed minced garlic. In our opinion the steak required additional seasoning, but in hindsight we should have added the Borsari seasoned salt. The potatoes were crispy on the outside, yet supple on the inside, and were reminiscent of fried breakfast potatoes. Although we enjoy spicy fare, the hot peppers lacked zing and were underwhelming in this dish.
Our dessert was Crème brûlée infused with Jasmine Green Tea (blurry picture above). This was my favorite part of the meal. The warm, rich, creamy custard base melted like butter in our mouths. The floral fragrance of the Jasmine tea sang on our taste buds. Then the contrasting caramelized sugar on top cut through the tender sweetness like a burnt bitter knife.
Forte’s array of cuisines allow everyone to find something they like on the menu. If you are fortunate enough to get a reservation at Forte, let me know what you ordered and how you liked it!