It’s fair to say that Chiltern Firehouse is London’s hottest ‘sleb’ spot right now. Anybody who’s anybody ain’t anybody if they haven’t been papped leaving this restaurant in Andre Balazs’ first UK hotel based in a former, and rather grand, fire station in Marylebone. It’s not all smoke and mirrors however, as head chef Nuno Mendes (formerly of Viajante in Bethnal Green) is running the kitchen – and he’s bloody good.
I loved my first visit when we sat at the counter overlooking the bustling kitchen. My visit on this occasion however was for brunch with some friends and this time we were seated in the middle of the dining room. It was an attractive space if not a little cramped; whalloping one of the handsome waiters in the groin (accidentally) soon became a common occurrence. And that’s another thing; every single person who works there is so incredibly good looking – but friendly with it too which is nice.
We started by sharing the Firehouse Caeser (£10), cornbread (£4) and French toast (£9). The Caeser salad, complete with crispy chicken skin was ruddy delicious, as was the cornbread served with a smoked salmon crème fraîche. The French toast was so gooey it barely resembled bread – I’ve never had anything quite like it but it was amazing. Served with crisp fatty bacon, a whipped bacon mousse and some maple syrup, it was worth every inch of the impending clogged arteries.
For main, the steak sandwich with chipotle and horseradish mayo (£16) was more of an open burger than a sandwich. The strips of steak were perhaps a little too wafer-thin but it was actually far more filling than it looked – and tasty too. The accompanying fries were so good we ordered an extra pot of the things (£5).
The eggs Benedict (£12) was a real highlight. The perfectly poached eggs were resting atop a ‘cheese biscuit’ which was basically a cheesy version of the usual English muffin and it was seriously flavourful. The Hollandaise sauce had the perfect balance between creamy and tangy and the glazed ham added some most welcome saltiness.
For dessert we shared the pecan pie with whisky whipped cream and the citrus tarte (£9 each) which both tickled my pickle perfectly. The tarte was like a lemon meringue pie with dollops of sweet, soft meringue and a cracking mandarin granita to cut through all the sugar. The pecan pie (served warm) had a wobbly-jelly-like centre which was divine.
After brunch, we ended up in the covered terrace by the entrance, slumped on the sofas under a blanket by the roaring fire as it pissed with rain – we really did find it impossible to leave. And that’s the effect Chiltern Firehouse is likely to have on you; you’ll stay for two bottles of wine and a Negroni more than you’d planned too, you’ll get chatting to the two Americans sitting next to you, you’ll flirt outrageously with the waiters. Oh – and you’ll eat some tasty grub too.