We recently decided to check out London's "hottest" new restaurant: Chiltern Firehouse. Neither of us are particularly drawn to scene-y, celeb-ridden hang-outs, but -- in our defence -- we had reserved the table long before the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Cara Delevingne and Bill Clinton had been seen there.
The restaurant is located in a fire station-turned-hotel on a part of Chiltern Street which we like to refer to as "Wedding Lane" due to the eerie abundance of wedding dress shops. The 26-room hotel, like the restaurant, is supposedly impossible to book.
The space is extremely polished: modern and industrial yet warm and charming. While aesthetically agreeable, the pompous atmosphere that pervaded the place rendered our experience much less enjoyable. We had a reservation at the undesirable time of 9pm on a Sunday, yet we were told by the hostess ("told" being the key word here) that we needed to wait at the bar because our table wasn't ready. We would have been happy to wait if they apologised for their delay, but instead we were forced to wait for 45 minutes in a cramped bar with no standing room, let alone seats. When we were finally led to our table by one of the forest-green jumpsuit-clad hostesses, we could not help but be in a rather sour mood.
Despite our ill-tempered state, the food was undeniably good, making up for all the irritation the restaurant's self-importance had caused us. Chef curator Nuno Mendes (formerly of Viajante) is a pure genius -- his dishes presented so beautifully and all bursting with unusual flavours.
These sweet, succulent, raw shrimp combined with almond milk and shaved almonds were just brilliant. A dish we would have again any day.
It's hard to go wrong with nicely grilled octopus and Japanese toppings like nameko, daikon and eggplant. Solid dish.
The beef was delicious, but the sweet, juicy tomatoes may have been the star of the dish. The lightly fried onion rings were also a wonderful addition.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the evening--the pork was cooked like a steak and to absolute perfection.
Dark chocolate and hazelnut are never a bad combo. Rich and decadent, surely, but there was nothing particularly special or unique about this dessert.
Not at all what we expected but interesting nonetheless. The horseradish flavour went surprisingly well with the carrots, and we liked that the dessert wasn't too sweet. That said, we'd probably still take a normally constructed carrot cake over this.
This one was weird, but it definitely worked. Such a refreshing palate cleanser!
Conclusion: Chiltern Firehouse may very well have one of the best kitchens in London right now, but their customer service strategy can't possibly be sustainable. Perhaps they'll get off their high horse once the celebrities finally deem it passé. We'll wait for that to happen before planning our return.
Chiltern Firehouse, 1 Chiltern Street, London W1U 7PA (Tube: Baker Street or Bond Street)