Chiltern Firehouse: Keeping Up With My Culinary Quest
When it comes to picking restaurants my criteria is simple: good food, and good food. While it helps to have a pleasant ambience, but that doesn’t compensate for food that is sub-par.
So, when I chose the Chiltern Firehouse, it was exactly this criterion that I adopted, oblivious to the fact that it is frequented by London’s rich and famous – Cameron and Beckham included. In other words, it was an endeavour to keep up with my culinary quest, and not the Jones’s.
We step into the lush confines, with its signature black and white furniture adding an urban chic finish to the terrace that is sprawling in greenery. With temperature touching the mid-20s, the weather is idyllic for an outdoors brunch. Although blankets are provided when customers are keen on sitting outside in cooler climates.
Exams are around the corner, but the cocktail menu seems intriguing. I opt for a champagne and peach cocktail, promising myself to counteract its effect with a strong cup of coffee at the end of our meal.
On the brunch menu, I am eyeing the steak tartare with pine nuts, chipotle and firehouse hot sauce, and the lobster and crab omelette with potatoes, chervil and coral mayo. For my vegetarian grandmother, it’s the eggs Florentine with a cheese muffin, tomatoes and spinach and the Italian leaves salad with beetroot, blood orange and candied pecans. Much has been said about the firehouse’s pancakes, which we decide to save for dessert.
Squinting at our sunlight facing table and sipping a refreshing cocktail, exams could not seem like a more distant reality.
Our tartare arrives in full fanfare, with a raw egg delicately balanced in the centre, thin crispy bread, and fries on the side.
The sauce is tangy and creamy, and the tenderness of the meat goes well with the gooeyness of the egg. Spread on the crispy bread, the combination of textures and flavours make this dish a clear winner.
The salad leaves are crispy and fresh, and the candied pecans add a sweet crunch. While there’s little to wow about, it is perfect for the weather, and a good palate cleanser before round two commences.
I’ve had my fair share of eggs benedict – especially at our breakfast extravaganza at Ivy Chelsea Garden just a few days ago. I take the tiniest bite out of the dish, reassured that one can rarely go wrong with the tomato-spinach and egg-muffin duos.
The lobster and crab omelette arrives resembles a soufflé, both in its consistency and taste. Although it is unusually fluffy and airy for an egg, it allows the star ingredients to dominate the dish –obviously, the seafood. The coral mayo, tart yet subtly flavoured, tops of the dish well.
A peep into the restaurants interiors reveals that it is as pleasant as the outdoors, filled with fireplaces and large windows to ensure that there’s no shortage of natural light.
Seafood seems to be a specialty – at least on brunch days – as we pass a counter where fresh oysters are being prepared. While we’re on the topic of seafood, Chiltern’s crab-stuffed donuts seem to come highly recommended. If Instagram is any indication, that is. Sadly, we missed the memo.
Back at our table, the last leg of our meal awaits us: buttermilk pancakes with blueberry, crème fraiche, with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and a side of maple.
Much to my satisfaction, I could cross out each of the imaginary boxes that should accompany any endeavor to find the perfect pancake. Fluffy, yet full, with an impeccable combination of rich and sour blueberry sauce and crème fraiche, so much so, that you hardly need any maple to wash them down. Of course the tiniest drizzling can never hurt.
The coffee that I promised myself is ordered in copious quantities, for everyone is in need of a caffeine kick to avoid a post-brunch stupor. Especially with the sun showing no signs of hiding itself. Of course no one’s complaining, because that just means better pictures, and perhaps a pseudo-study session at Hyde Park later on.
Where: 1 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, London W1U 7PA