With the booking being in place months before, there was a degree of anticipation and intrigue as to what would the infamous Chiltern Firehouse really be like. Was it worth all the hype, long booking queues and price? It was time to find out. For those of you who haven’t ever heard of Chiltern Firehouse, it’s a restaurant that opened in 2013 as one of Andre Balazs, an American hotel owner. Nuno Mendes heads up the kitchen and he previously ran Viajante at Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel. In June 2014, The Telegraph called it ‘London’s hottest celebrity hangout’ and those who read Daily Mail’s showbiz section you’ll see the hoards of celebrities popping in on a daily basis.
We were in the first sittings for dinner and made our way in to a rather empty dining room and made you thing where is everyone? But soon the place was buzzing with well dressed diners (although no celebrities). The interior was a lot more low key than I expected, a classic French feel about it and they’re brave enough to put an open plan kitchen in the centre so you can see the chefs at work. After the low hygiene rating they will be looking to make sure it’s looking spotless.
Now for the food, we were presented first with a smaller menu of aperitifs and light bites.
This seemed a bit unnecessary and more suited for a pre-drink at the bar, we did however after looking at the full menu decide to try the crab doughnuts and crispy chicken. Both were rather delicious with the crab doughnuts lighter than expected, more like a mini brioche bun filled with tender crab meat.
As normal Lawrence and I went halves on everything, why limit yourself to two dishes when you can have four. First up was the Sea Trout Crudo with yellow mole and coriander. This was a lovely light dish, cold fish surrounded in a mild mexican style curry.
Next was the Seared squid with herbed fregola, nasturtium and parsley, this wasn’t my favourite dish. The squid was a little too chewy for my liking and not much flavour. I have to say though throughout all the dishes were very beautiful especially the smoked venison with blackberries, yoghurt & wild mushrooms which parents shared (unfortunately didn’t get a photo).
The mains were by far the highlights of the meal, as it was a special occasion we started with the Aged beef fillet with mushroom caramel, roasted shallots and kale. This was very good, perfectly cooked meat and very generous size portions, went perfectly with a side of crispy french fries.
The second dish was the Chargrilled Iberico Pork with raw and roasted turnips. Which again was presented beautifully and it was an interesting introduction of using raw turnips along with the roasted ones, you’d expect it to be very bitter but not at all.
Now here’s where Chiltern failed us, it was 7.15pm and the waitress came over saying ‘sorry you don’t have time for dessert but tea or coffee anyone?’ Hang on a minute, you took a very long time at the beginning taking our orders, if that had been quicker we would have more than enough time. Alternatively I’m sure we can share pudding in 15minutes if we skip the teas/coffee and they begrudgingly said yes. We shared the chocolate tart and a meringue style ice cream surrounded in lovely sorbet.
All in all I feel very lucky to have been able to experience the restaurant first hand. The food was very good, much better than I had anticipated but I have to say it’s been over-hyped and very much over-priced. It will be interesting to see how long the fascination lasts for.