Chiltern Firehouse comes with an esteemed reputation, mostly because of its clientele and ostentatious aura, which includes difficulty to get a reservation. Shiima and I are cool with all those. Actually, we enjoy it because it makes for a more entertaining experience. But all that quickly becomes a detriment if the food isn’t up to snuff…
Chiltern Firehouse is a very fashionable restaurant in Marylebone serving contemporary European food. The restaurant is inside a beautiful building that also houses an equally fashionable hotel. The beauty isn’t only on the outside as the restaurant is unquestionably beautiful and it’s very apparent that much care was and is actively being taken by everyone involved to maintain the beauty and elegance of the restaurant. Their reputation in that regard is very well earned.
So is their reputation for being difficult to get a reservation, although it worked out just fine for us, probably because we had that in mind and reserved two weeks ahead. I tried to book online, but Chiltern Firehouse don’t do online reservations… you have to call. I did, told the nice lady what day Shiima and I wanted to dine (last Friday) and we were offered a spot at the chef’s counter at 6PM.
We arrived on time… well, near enough lol… and the restaurant was already busy. We were led to the chef’s counter and given the most prominent spot at the edge of the counter, right in front of the kitchen and beside the plating area. This in itself, made our Chiltern Firehouse dinner experience one of the best ever. Shiima is a huge fan of Gordon Ramsay and we are huge fans of almost every cooking competition on TV (except the American ones cos they are too over the top) but watching the action in the kitchen was better than any Masterchef or Hell’s Kitchen episode.
The head chef, not Nuno Mendes but a relatively young vibrant British dude, was incredibly forthright in his expectations of the food and the service, and everyone in the kitchen knew it. He was passionate as hell, but also had a softer side, although shown very rarely. After an initial period where we were frightened for everyone in kitchen, it soon became obvious that they were all used to him and expected a frank word or two when they messed up, so they very seldom did. I went to boarding school and spent a couple months in military school, so I don’t mind being driven hard for excellence, and the head chef was driving hard.
Now to the food…
What we ordered
We ordered Padron Peppers and Bacon Cornbread for snacks. Grilled Galacian Octopus and Chargrilled Wood Pigeon with Seared Foie Gras for starters. Label Anglais Chicken and Iberico Pork for mains with Mac & Cheese and Baked Sweet Potato for sides.
Review of the food
I really enjoyed the bacon cornbread. It was my first taste of cornbread and it was fantastic, especially dipped in the trout roe & crème fraiche dip. Shiima’s pardon peppers were tasty and the ricotta cheese added an extra deep flavour to the peppers.
Shiima wanted her pigeon well done, but we were cajoled by our waiter to have it medium rare because that’s the best way to enjoy the dish. Shiima relented a bit and went for medium. It was delicious. Shiima enjoyed it, although she felt some pieces were still too rare for her. She left those to me and I devoured them with the crunchy granola it was served with.
My octopus dish was very beautiful, so much that Shiima considered having a slice (she don’t eat fish) … but she didn’t lol. The octopus was very good, perfectly grilled, and the spicy sabrassada was incredible. Even the kelp was yummy lol.
My Iberico Pork was served medium rare. I initially wanted to change that, but I knew what our waiter would say so I just let it go and I’m glad I did because the pork was so mouth-wateringly succulent. The spiced crumb was also a fantastic compliment to the pork. All in, the dish was a winner. Shiima really enjoyed her Label Anglais Chicken. It was seasoned well and cooked perfectly, plus the sauce was delicious.
She ordered chips soon as she saw the baked sweet potato (she wanted it more crisp) and she really enjoyed her chips and the excellent mac & cheese with her chicken. I loved the mac & cheese and the baked sweet potato was awesome! So buttery and the trout roe on top was a really nice touch.
We’d really enjoyed every dish so far, so we excitedly asked for the dessert menu. We ordered the Honey Pudding and the Chocolate tart.
The Honey pudding had a bit too much honey for Shiima, so she abandoned it and I ate the bulk of it. I must admit the taste of honey was close to overpowering, but I enjoyed it regardless. The chocolate tart was rich with dark chocolate and creamy. I really enjoyed the hazelnut ice cream as well.
We had a blast at Chiltern Firehouse. The food was exceptional, the restaurant is beautiful – although a tad pretentious – and the kitchen was incredibly entertaining. We recommend for romantic dates and special occasions, and if you’re lucky enough to get our spot on the chef’s counter, I recommend for an unmatched foodie experience. Chiltern Firehouse is very expensive though, but then that’s to be expected.
Cuisine: Contemporary European
Dress Code: Smart
Shiima’s Star Dish: Firehouse Mac & Cheese
Amen’s Star Dish: Iberico Pork
Price: £50+ each (excluding alcohol)
Rating: 5 out of 5
1 Chiltern Street
London W1U 7PA
Call 020 7073 7676