Unless you have been in deep hibernation under a water drenched log for the past six months you will have heard of the Chiltern Firehouse.
Anyone who’s anyone has been photographed tumbling out of this London hot spot for the last couple of months. It’s been inundated with celebrities, chefs and avid foodies. But don’t the threat of the paparrazi outside put you off…they didn’t so much as flinch as we left…managing to dash in one fell swoop my dreams I could be mistaken for a Victoria Secret angel, who’s slightly let her self go…Anyway…it’s one of those places where even the hype doesn’t do it justice. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Being a greedy little creature I had read about the Chiltern Firehouse months ago and was immediately desperate to go. Feeling ever so slightly smug that I was well ahead of the game on this one, I rang in early January to book a table, seeing that I had a free evening the following week and it just sounded perfect for such an occasion. So it was, that I was ever so slightly miffed when I was told the next available table for a table of two was in June. Yup. June. Six Months away. A whole 180 days (or somewhere thereabouts). I’m not sure if I’ve ever booked even so much as a holiday so far in advance. I was torn between incredulity at the waiting time and my pure greed-driven-desperation to eat there. Greed, as always, prevailed.
The time passed, as it is prone to, and sure enough the day arrived when we were to head to heaven for supper. I was more than a little worried that six months of drool inducing foodie anticipation was going to end in certain disappointment when we finally got there. I needn’t have worried. The food was sensational. Not a word I use very often (or at all), as it’s a bit of a grown up sounding, intellectually snobby way of describing something, but here, I don’t care how it sounds, Chiltern Firehouse is quite simply sensational. That’s sensational FULLSTOP.
I should probably preface this account with the fact I am fully aware we managed to put away a lot of food. But, in our defence, or perhaps merely as a meagre justification, we had waited six months to eat here, so we were keen to eat anything we could get our hands on. But the little round of applause the waiters gave us as we staggered unsteadily to our feet clutching our swollen bellies, rather in the same way a heavily pregnant woman might stand, was evidence enough that we had eaten rather a lot. Maybe it was my imagination, but as I looked at the waiters semi-bowed in admiration at the amount of food we had put away, I’m pretty sure I saw a certain level of respect in their eyes. The swathes of supermodels that sweep through their doors probably nibble gingerly at a salad, and they could see from the outset, we were not cut from the same cloth. Not even close.
We were seated at a table that looked right into the open plan kitchen which was great as we were in the hustle and bustle and could see everything that was happening. We surveyed each passing plate with eager eyes to see what we should order and we watched as Nuno Mendes plated up every single plate that left the kitchen with painstaking perfection.
Making our choice from the menu felt a little like Sophie’s Choice. No that’s not quite right….it felt harder than Sophie’s Choice.
We ordered some little snacks from the kitchen to nibble on as we decided. Plumping for the Fried Chicken with smoky bacon ranch dip. The most tender chicken you’ve ever tasted.
And the crab stuffed donuts, which were honestly like little bites of heaven. Fairy light dough and creamy crab, topped with a spindling of parmesan snow. Swoon.
To be honest I know we could have ordered anything from the menu and it would have been incredible and it was pretty much only my bank balance which stopped me from ordering everything off the menu.
We settled on sharing three starters to begin with…no judgement please.
The Sea Trout Crudo, sort of like ceviche with yellow mole and coriander. No that is not a yellow coloured mole the likes of which you find in Wind in the Willows…its actually a Mexican style sauce.
The steak tartare with pine nuts, chipotle and firehouse hot sauce. Definitely up there with the best steak tartare I’ve had and it’s one of my favourites, so I’ve eaten a lot! Absolutely delicious, the perfect balance, or tangy, hot and creamy. Completely heavenly.
The third starter was the grilled octopus with aubergine, daikon and mushrooms. Woody, earthy and perfectly cooked. This is definitely a combination to try to recreate.
We moved onto the Monkfish cooked over pine with puffed barley and fennel. This was ridiculously good. The puffed barley provided a delicious crunch and added texture in contrast to the perfectly silky smooth fennel puree. The monkfish was meaty and perfectly cooked. How beautiful are these wooden plates? I’m seriously coveting them.
We had seen the lamb being plated up and it looked so pretty we had to order it. It tasted even better than it looked. Served with minted broad beans, radishes and goat’s curd, it was fresh, simple and perfect. I will definitely be adding this to my repertoire and hope to serve it at a dinner party soon!
We loosened some notches on our belts, and surveyed the pudding menu.
We chose the carrot chiltern, which consisted of the most insane carrot cake, ribbons of real carrots and horseradish ice cream. Carrot cake is my favourite cake in the whole world and this was hands down, standing on your head the most amazing carrot cake I have ever tasted. There are literally no words to describe it.
We also shared the frozen apple panna cotta with a herb granita, dried meringue and apple panna cotta. Kind of looked like a snazzy little snail, but didn’t taste anything like a snail. I promise. Just amazing.
I think you might have been able to pick up on the fact that the Chiltern Firehouse completely blew me away. I had the highest of expectations and it somehow managed to far surpass them. Go on and book yourself a table, you might just get lucky and snag one for say…June 2015. But I can promise you it’s so worth the wait.
As is the food isn’t enough, there is also a TOP SECRET door outside to a lovely little area where you can catch your breath and try to make more room for delicious puddings. You push through the mirror in the bathroom and ta dah…you’re in Narnia. Well not quite, but very nearly!
Yup, I look pretty chuffed…and full.