Another visit, another wonderful time but this time with slightly mixed results. Readers of this site will know that I have been to Chiltern Firehouse a great many times….and this is not a coincidence. It remains one of the most alluring venues in the country and with its outdoor fireplace gazeebo terrace and beautfully decorated boutique hotel bar, it is arguably one of the nicest places to visit in the world. I still absolutely love the buzzing vibe, comfortable seats, joyful atmosphere and all topped with a menu that simply pleases every time with fun and creative twists on simple ideas. Although some staff on this occasion suffered from self-importance issues, it was still a very pleasurable experience as always and had a very positive effect on those guests in my party that were knew to the enviroment and wished to have a good time. Overall, Chiltern Firehouse once again proved to be able to provide this.
Foood Grade: 77%
Particular favourites of this visit were the colourful and fragrant salad with a mix of vegetables and fruits that worked very well as well as a nicely done eggs benedict (cheesy element to the muffins that were also nice and manageably small. The hollondaise was ever so slightly bland but an additional side of ketchup for that and the fires enabled me to make a makeshift sauce choron and the bottom line is that it showed that the management wanted to provide for the guest, no matter how strange my request was and that’s the important aspect which gains full marks.
A tiny piece of paper / label was discovered in the blueberry muffins which was immediately taken away with aplogies given and a fresh dish portion served with it taken off the bill. This was nicely dealt with by the management making everyone happy at the end of the day on that part. Another mistake I only realised until afterwards was on my count and that was forgetting to enforce someone having the steak tartare, so we are all human(!).
The dishes that everyone had that I didn’t try were reported with no disatisfaction whatsoever and I was particualrly pleased to have things again that I knew of such as the fried chicken nibbles at the beginning of the meal as well as the wonderful toasted meringue and apple granita dessert. Less enjoyable I thought was the rather bland and dry pistachio and almond cake as not even the ice cream could provide enough moisture to remedy the situation. I also found the cod skin snacks at the start a little chewy and detracted the lovely salmon from being enjoyed properly – it woudl have been better if these were truly crispy and nothing else. However, these were blips in an otherwise highly pleasing series of dishes that everyone was happy with.
That aside, the service was still very accommodating all round. The slow cooked egg starter was very pleasant albeit with a farily confident price of £14 for what was an entirely small starter portion. The salmon was beautifully cooked and presented and the glass of Pinot Noir was indeed very good. You do obviously need to pay extra for the privilege of having the vino here (£15 for the glass) as opposed to the wines by the glass at Dabbous had earlier at lunch for example.
For full details of my overall verdict of Chiltern Firehouse, please simply keep reading the below / previous four visits, but the fact that I have been here on that many occasions should answer how much I rate the overall package here. I am actually slowly making my way through the entire menu here now and look forward to doing other options on my next visit.
The steak tartare was as good as I recall it and with the addition of the spicey BBQ home sauce, it remains the most gooey and lovely steak tartare I have found in any of London’s restaurants. The lobster and crab omelette was completely unlike a traditional omelette, however it was certainly pleasing with its layer of seafood jelly on top of the underside egg and beautifully presented. I stupidly did not taste the foie gras with eel however, the duck salad was mine and although I would have preferred the salad to be overall a little less ‘heavy’ and be toned down in its coleslaw feel, the duck was utterly succulent and wonderful to have. That was great as was the peanut sauce to go with the duck, but I will be happy to try something else next time. The cheeses were done well and the sides, although a little bit overpriced (£6 for the very small portion of chips for example) added more smiles being done so well with the smoked carrots and wonderful, simple dressing for the lettuce hearts.
The iced apple and panna cotta was indeed a fabulous dessert. The lady serving us did think that it was Nuno Mendes’ favourite so we had to try this…and I’m very glad we did! Utterly superb in the power of the apple and originality of wonderful soft meringue surrounding the panna cotta. All in all, this was just a great collection of original and fun dishes, which were all enjoyed in a similarly lovely and fun environment at the same time. We were made to be felt entirely welcome throughtout and thankfully the number of staff meant that even though it was virtually a full house, we were still served reasonably quickly.
I seem to pick something new up everytime I come here and this time it is the score for afternoon tea. You can get tea served in the hotel bar at anytime during the day and there are choux and eclairs available (see final photo), but it is not the traditional high tea with sandwiches and all the trimmings. However, actually something makes me quite pleased this is the case as I think this sort of feel would not work in this stylishly modern hotel and high tea like this better rests with equally nice but more formal and larger environments such as The Berkley, Claridges, Browns and The Lanesborough etc. Anyway, that’s the score for tea at Chiltern Firehouse in case it interested, so now you know.
Another wonderful visit here – I don’t think it’s in danger of doing any wrong anytime soon.
Having been put on the reserve list for the main restaurant, I very luckily managed to gain a quick sitting near the end of service to try the steak tartare (which I was most gutted I couldn’t try on my last, spontaneous pop in visit) as the head chef had previously recommended. I am so glad I did as this was point blank the most enjoyable steak tartare I have ever had. There are plenty of other ways I have seen this done (at Brassiere Chavot, The Gun and Berners Tavern for example, there are more) and all of these have been great; this one at Chiltern Firehouse was simply even better. The hot sauce made with apple and garlic was truly superb – normally I absolutely don’t do things too hot or spicy as I think it kills the other flavours and is sometimes more uncomfortable than enjoyable(!), but this sauce was lightly smoked and utterly superb. The pine nut mayonnaise and supporting tarragon, shallot, gherkin and smoked puree on the side to add to flavour as per individual taste was a nice touch and the whole thing was just out-of-this-world and just transported me away to my happy place….and this is bliss.
On a separate note to the food, I can’t not make a mention to the overall establishment, which is beautifully designed and arranged. Bar snack food can be had in the outdoor terraced area but outdoor seating closes after 9pm (still not completely sure why, but I presume this may be to reduce noise levels for the hotel guests). Care has been taken on the elegantly designed clothing for staff and there is a lovely atmosphere all round. On the actual service side itself, we were made to feel very welcome from the moment we stepped out of the cab and were greeted at the door and inside the staff could not have been more genuinely friendly. My sincere thanks to all of the staff that looked after us on Friday 28 Aug in amongst a very busy crowd and to any that are reading this; it was so appreciated receiving this genuinely warm hospitality, which, I think is lost on many who take it for granted. It makes such a higher and more pleasant lasting impression and memory which I have. A lovely experience all round and the food, be it snack or not, on its own, was explosive.