We made it. We finally made it. After opening 18 months ago, Chiltern Firehouse quickly earned the title of ‘Hardest place to get a reservation’. We were finally able to secure a brunch booking last weekend, and it was actually rather easy. We only rang a couple of days in advance (quite rare for such establishments!).
We were rather excited to walk through the dark gates and see what was awaiting us on the other side. After seeing so many photos of food, decor, the toilets (yes even the toilets are exclusive), we just could not wait to see what Chiltern Firehouse had in store for us.
We arrived promptly for our reservation and were met by two doorman, or ‘gate’-men rather, who guided us through the terrace and into the main restaurant. We were greeted by the lovely hostess who gave us the option of a table or the Chef’s Counter. To the Counter we ran. We always choose this option if it is ever presented to us. To see the inside workings of a kitchen is nothing more than spectacular.
Once seated we decided upon Champagne spritzers. Strawberry & Basil and Berries & mint. Both were extremely refreshing. One slight gripe would be that they were served in tumblers and not flutes. If serving champagne, flutes are always preferred! Our extremely friendly waiter went through the lunch/brunch menu with us and gave us his tips and favourite choices and the chef’s specials too. We of course ordered the Crab Donuts and Bacon Cornbread, followed by the Watermelon and Ricotta Salad and Eggs Florentine and Royale.
The Cornbread arrived first. A small wooden plank holding two freshly baked sticks served with the most amazing maple butter topped with a chipotle sprinkle. The cornbread was delicious. Light and fluffy with a kick in flavour. The bacon was a fragrant addition rather than pieces, which didn’t bother us, but may cause some concern to other expecting larger chunks.
This was followed the Crab Donuts and Watermelon Salad. First the donuts. Now we have read mixed reviews of these little morsels so we tried to reserve judgement until we had tried them for ourselves. What you get are chewy, fluffy pastry balls sliced open and filled with mildly zingy crab meat. With the pastry being slightly on the sweet side, it did prove slightly odd but we have to admit we are definitely Pro Donut. Our waiter informed us the Bradley Cooper has them for breakfast with his morning latte! The Salad was exquisite. Light ricotta with fresh tomatoes and juicy watermelon. A gorgeous summer time salad if there ever was one. We saw the chef preparing this and you can see the love and detail going into each dish. We would go back for that alone.
Next up came our eggs. The Florentine consisted of a cheesy muffin, topped with tomato, spinach and two perfectly formed poached eggs and hollandaise. The muffin was delicious. It wasn’t doughy and was able to hold the weight of the mammoth toppings. Now the poached egg test is of course whether or not they have a runny centre, and these definitely did. The royale versions come with Brioche and Salmon. Again the brioche was excellent. It is obvious that the baked breads are given as much love and attention as any other part of the menu. We like this a lot.
To end, our waiter convinced us to try the Key Lime Pie, his favourite dessert and, his words, would make us want to come back again the next day.
He wasn’t wrong. Undoubtedly we have a very sweet tooth at London’s Dinest and when the Pie came we were in awe. A rye biscuit flaky base (the THINNEST we have ever seen) filled with a gorgeous Lime curd and Mascaporne cream and then topped with Meringue shards. Every mouthful was a little party on the tongue. We are so glad our waiter twisted our arm.
Yes Chiltern Firehouse is difficult to get into. Yes it is frequented by the likes of Bradley Cooper and Liv Tyler. But it still has time for us civilians. Not once did we feel out of place or looked down upon. Everyone did all they could to make sure you enjoyed your time there. No wonder the reservation books are constantly full, not only because of the food, but with staff like theirs, you will never want to leave.
1 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, London, W1U 7PA