As we type, about 40 diners are enjoying the first meals ever served at Jim Ringo’s new Downtown restaurant, Forum, the much anticipated revamp of the gorgeous art deco dining hall previously home to Goodfellow’s, and before that, the monumental Forum Cafeteria, which operated from the 1930s to the 1970s at 40 S. 7th St. Forum opened for business today with a low-key lunch — the first lunch served in that spot in over five years — and we stopped over to snoop around a bit.
The outdoor patio was not yet set up for business, but the iconic blue-green awning stretching toward the sidewalk offered a regal welcome — and a nice disruption of the bland City Center façade. Inside, the dining room was not the famed art deco fantasia that news articles had led us to expect. Though the space retains many of the original elegance — cast glass chandeliers dangle like earrings, custom etched mirrors on the wall amplify the feeling of space, ornate molding animates the high ceiling — the vibe is not at all posh or exclusive or intimidatingly wealthy. The young, attractive hostesses were warmly enthusiastic. And more than a few diners were spotted wearing jeans.
An upstairs balcony juts midair into the emerald-, gray- and glass-colored room. Two tables enjoy a privileged position overlooking the entire restaurant. Behind them, a large dining room, walled off behind glass, accommodates private parties. More private dining rooms are available on the main floor, in the rear of the restaurant, and can be reserved free of charge. There's also a chef's table available for booking, tucked into a corner of the kitchen.
For those choosing to dine with the masses, a number of curved booths promise semi-privacy. But the overall feel is very open, light and airy — the antithesis of a darkly rich steakhouse.
If you read this in the next hour or so, you can still stop down to make lunch. The menu changes over to dinner at 4 p.m., with no disruption in between. A hostess made mention of a happy hour from 4 p.m. 6 p.m., during which all appetizers are half-off.
Though we didn’t sample any food, the Downtown Journal will be running a full review later in the month. And we’ll be snapping photos for the May 10 issue. Stay tuned.