It had been a while since we were last at Chiltern Firehouse and we had to cancel a booking a few months back as I had an awful fever. We had plans with our friends Paul and Chris to take them out for a fun night to thank them for letting us stay at their house last year and Chiltern seemed like the perfect venue. Paul had been once with other friends but Chris hadn’t been there yet. We met first for drinks at their bar, which wasn’t even open when we were there last. Tasty cocktails, a very friendly bartender and great people watching define it well.
Their outdoor area is also lovely but it closes at 8pm, likely so the neighbours don’t complain. We then moved through to the main dining area. Sadly our table was in the side area, where the people watching is not as great as from the tables across from the open kitchen.
What we ate:
Fried chicken: always one of the tasty nibbles to start the meal. Hot and slightly spiced and served with a smoky bacon ranch dip.
Cornbread: bacon cornbread with whipped chipotle maple butter. I LOVED this on the past occasions that we were there, but this time found them a bit too greasy, and Chris actually thought that they were fried!
Salmon tartare: served with rhubarb jam and sea vegetables. It was a bit under-seasoned and bland compared to the other starters which were much better.
Grilled asparagus: served with brown butter, salmon jerky (totally unnecessary) and yeast cracklings, which were delicious. The asparagus were massive and I liked them but my friend Chris thought they were too raw.
Smoked burrata: with caper raisin, grilled broccoli and pine nuts. The balance of flavours was great with a subtle sweetness offsetting the savoury and deliciously creamy burrata.
Wild halibut: this was in the specials part of the menu and came highly recommended by the waiter. The fish was well cooked but the skin was limp. It was served with jersey royals (potatoes), wild garlic, confit duck egg (listed on the menu though I couldn’t find it on the plate) and morels. It was a tasty fish and the sides were tasty but the duck egg would have added some richness to the dish if it was actually there.
Iberico pork: I still remember the iberico pork was the best dish when we first dined at Chiltern right after they opened, and I reminded Stewart of the fact with high hopes that he would order it, and of course he fell right into my trap, and I bet he is happy he did, as it was the best dish of the evening. Despite the weird sounding combination with broken rice porridge, wild garlic and cuttlefish, it worked perfectly. The cuttlefish was the wildcard but was barely noticeable and was mixed in the crunchy porridge and all topped with a fresh and herbaceous wild garlic sauce! So good.
Pan roast chicken: when Chris read that it was served with French onion soup and aged gruyère she found it compelling but was concerned it would be too wintery and heavy. Our waiter clarified that the onion soup was the sauce and that it wasn’t a heavy dish – he wasn’t lying. The chicken was tender and the combination of flavours was comforting without being overly greasy or heavy.
Truffled buckwheat polenta: sadly this arrived when we were almost done with our mains but Chris and I devoured it while the boys opted for polishing off their red wine instead. Savoury, creamy, truffley = yum!
Grilled St. Jude cheese: wrapped in wild garlic leaves and served with sourdough bread. This was a great cheese course, original and interesting. The waited pushed us to order two of them which was absurd as it was quite a large portion and we had ordered two desserts for after the cheese. The creamy cheese was enveloped by the leaves and the package was grilled, which caused the leaves to get well charred and the cheese to melt, and stay warm as it got delivered to our table. I can’t recall the chutney but It wasn’t as good as the fig chutney the night before at Counter Culture.
As the cheese was delivered, we were suddenly informed that someone needed our table which was odd as it was almost 11pm. He also then mentioned to the table next to ours that if they wanted more food they would need to order as the kitchen was about to close. How was someone waiting if the kitchen would close? Rude when they do this at the end of the meal. But we ignored it and just sat calmly finishing our dinner.
Chocolate frangipane: a thin cake topped with dollops of praline and caramel cream, served with almond milk ice cream. A good dessert but not memorable.
Frozen pannacotta: with apple herb granité and meringue. I had this dessert on my second visit to Chiltern when the waiter said he was just going to bring me a chocolate dessert as I didn’t seem adventurous with my food. (I had commented that his suggested starter was a bit bland and he hated me from then onwards). I loved it and wanted to have it again. A very interesting combo of textures and temperatures with the very cold herb granité and the soft but torched meringue enveloping a creamy and chilled pannacotta. Definitely a new interpretation of a baked Alaska!
After dinner we went downstairs to show them the secret bar, which can be accessed through a door in the bathroom and ended up back at the upstairs bar for a last cocktail. A great evening!
In sum: Chiltern Firehouse is still one of the most fun dinner places in town, it certainly comes with a price as its quite expensive but thats the cost of big buzz and a fun scene.
Chiltern Firehouse http://www.chilternfirehouse.com/
+44020 7073 7676
One Chiltern Street, Marylebone, London W1U 7PA