I’ve been to Chiltern Firehouse a couple of times. The first time was for breakfast/brunch and the second time was for dinner. Brunch ended up being £70 (around $105), which is way too much for brunch – even a good one in my opinion. I am a fan of bacon and eggs and some black tea, but I felt like I was only paying for the (extremely nice) setting.
When I group of pals came into town from San Francisco and made reservations for a big group of us to go there together, I was really happy that I would have the chance to experience it at dinner time. Now, I have to say that it was not what I expected and I think part of this is because those in London know that Chiltern Firehouse has been supplanted as “the place to be” by Sexy Fish. At dinner, the table across from us was filled with well dressed adults…and their kids. Once you see kids at a fancy restaurant in the evening…it’s over. I’m sorry, it just is. Thankfully, I have a reservation to Sexy Fish so stay tuned!
So, I get there early and one of my group was already waiting, so we went to the bar. It is really lively and so beautiful. We ordered a drink and they began to bring us a bunch of appetizers, including their famed crab doughnuts. It turns out that one of our other friends (who later joined for dinner) ran into the chef – Nuno Mendes – at La Taberna (i.e. his other restaurant) and they got to chatting. When he heard that we would be at Chiltern, he really hooked us up! That was a great start to the evening. OK, back to my drink, I ordered an amazing champagne based beverage that was infused with lavender and violet. It has a really strong taste, but was very good. I can’t recall the name, but given that they change the menu around, there will probably be something different when you go.
A beautifully dressed staff member (the women wear Emilia Wickstead jumpsuits and the men wear suits from J. Crew) came and got us when our table was ready. The family with the kids left 20 minutes into our dinner and the crowd became younger (not kids though) and more well dressed throughout the night. I ordered the Iberico Pork and we had a lot more of the crab stuffed donuts. I also highly recommend the bacon cornbread. We ate a lot of food and at the end I was just stuffed, but really happy.
After dinner, we went back to the bar. My friends noted several famous people in the room including Waris Ahluwalia. The thing I like most about the bar is that it is small and has an intimate feeling. One of my friends, who lived in LA for many years, noted that it reminded her so much of the Château Monmart in LA. I pointed out that that both hotels are owned by André Balazs, which probably accounted for the same look and feel (FYI Chiltern is also a hotel). I’ve heard that there is also a secret garden at the hotel/restaurant and that the entrance is near the restrooms, but I’ve never been.
Overall – this is a great bar and restaurant. I think that I prefer the bar over the restaurant though. Better for people watching and chatting with friends.
Chiltern Firehouse – 1 Chiltern St, London W1U 7PA – 020 7073 7676