That’s right, good quality food and not it’s not even horrendously overpriced. No wonder this place is so packed.
Ever since its opening there’s been a real flurry of excitement surrounding Chiltern Firehouse. For a start you just can’t get in, not quickly anyway. We had to book six weeks in advance for a Sunday afternoon.
This is due, in no small part, to every critic, blogger and free-sheet in town lavishing praise on them and wittering on about the A-listers (or should that be Z-listers) they saw there. They really set our expectations high (for the food at least) but had led us to believe it would be obnoxious and full of footballer types. As it turned out, we were very pleasantly surprised.
You have to negotiate your way past several doormen, seemingly standing guard along the way before making it to the dining room. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s to keep the riff-raff out, but they were all very nice.
The restaurant was heaving and we were squeezed into a row of tables with hardly any space between them. This is one of our regular bugbears but it didn’t bother us here as there’s plenty of chatter in the room. The kitchen is open-plan and full-Spartan beards seem to be part of the uniform. It was also refreshing to see chef Nuno Mendes on hand, running the show.
Their website, or should I say ‘page’ contains only basic information so this was actually our first look at their menu. This probably helped drive that ‘flurry’ I was talking about, as it adds a real air of mystery of what you are going to get. It also means people have to rely more on critics’ descriptions.
It never crossed my mind that they’d have a brunch menu on at 2pm. But luckily and by stroke of genius they had some proper grub on offer alongside the fancy egg dishes (£18 for lobster scrambled eggs!). It’s also fair to warn you that if you go at lunch time, you won’t be able to order those dainty little crab doughnuts that I’m sure you’ve heard everyone raving about. Unfortunately they are only on the evening bar snack menu.
The one snack item on the menu is corn bread served with smoked salmon creme fraiche. It’s a tasty little nibble but I was still yearning to try the crab doughnuts.
Steak tartare came with a tiny bottle of their smoky Firehouse hot sauce and melba toast. I know this is a cliché but it really did taste as good as it looks and had lovely texture and bite. Excellent value at £12 for this starter size too.
The Caesar salad was salted with anchovies and garnished with crispy chicken skin instead of chicken meat. I really think crisped up chicken skin should appear on more menus. Maybe I’ll start a campaign…
The hanger steak was cooked to perfection and well rested. It had good flavour and went perfectly with the watercress and hazelnuts. It’s such a seemingly simple dish yet other restaurants can get it so wrong. Rest assured you’ll eat a good steak here and this was great value for money at just £18.
Isn’t this burger stunning? We felt a compulsion to order it after seeing one delivered to the table next to us. It had a great crust but still managed to be pink in the middle. The patty was flavoursome and far from dry, however we thought it could do with a little more fat in the mix. Delicious nonetheless.
Unfortunately they were out of their signature dessert, frozen apple panna cotta so I settled for the strawberry sundae. It doesn’t look much, I know, but it was bloody good. It was so rich it tasted almost like strawberry cheesecake, in a deconstructed kind of way but without being naff. They also get extra points for not using that word on the menu.
Pecan pie was another winner. So much so that I’m now inspired to recreate it at home. Not too sweet, good pastry and a lovely chew to the filling. I could happily have eaten another slice, it was that good.
We couldn’t fault anything we had and would happily return to try the breakfast or dinner dishes. It was apparent from hearing snippets from neighbouring tables, that the people had been many times before. That’s a testament to the quality of food coming out of the kitchen. Equally apparent was how competitive the pricing is. Seeing as there was no online menu to consult, we were expecting to be stung for a lot more. Given the demand they probably could get away with charging more too. Okay – perhaps not for the lobster scrambled eggs, but the steak in particular was an absolute steal.
That’s right, good quality food and it’s not even horrendously overpriced. No wonder this place is so packed.
Meal for two with drinks and service £139.Visit Site
Address: 1 Chiltern St, Marylebone, London W1U 7JA
Tel: 020 7073 7676
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