The famed Chiltern Firehouse, as the name suggests, is a firehouse turned hotel and restaurant which has become one of London's most frequented destinations by celebrities and other high-status individuals. Given the restaurant's reputation, all Londoners have become far too acquainted with the difficulty of securing a reservation at this celebrity hotspot. Sometimes, I can't help but think if some restaurants purposely restrict reservations (at the cost of having empty tables) to shore up demand. Then again, would the tables be empty if everyone is dying to get a reservation? It would seem like the restaurateurs are simply employing marketing tactics to position themselves as custodians of exclusivity. I have to say that it's worked. Ironically though, it wasn't that difficult for me to get a reservation! The trick is to dine here for brunch rather than dinner.
Mr Kowa da Kowa was joining me on this warm Saturday afternoon to indulge in the oddly yet perfectly timed meal that is brunch. I found the general ambience to be slightly unsettling. I didn't like how the peaceful and exclusive feel of the front-garden and the hotel lobby contrasted with the loud and buzzing restaurant interior. I felt as though the restaurant space was slightly congested. Obviously, there were no tables left to spare! The restaurant's conversion from a firehouse also allowed for interesting and eclectic design features including the roof detailing and the wall tilings. Generally, the hotel lobby and rooms (which mr Kowa da Kowa urged to see) oozed a luxurious old-Hollywood 1930s feel. The restaurant had an element of this atmosphere but with a modern touch.
Initially, I was flustered with the amount of choice on the menu but I eventually settled on the Buttermilk Pancakes (£12). These are probably the best pancakes I've had to date. The pancakes were fluffy but filling, enhanced by the crème fraîche's richness and balanced out by the acidity from the blueberry glaze. Lovely in every way and moreish, these pancakes are guaranteed to satisfy your brunch fix. I mean, look at it....
As usual, I had to balance my meal with something savoury so I opted for a light starter of salmon tartare (£14). Pretty it was, impressive it wasn't. The flavours were far too muted as the salmon cried out for a kick of something. Also, the dish was way too expensive for what it was.
Mr Kowa da Kowa chose to have the classic Egg's Benedict (£14) which looked stunning and was devoured within minutes! Eggs Benedict is usually my brunch staple so I was delighted with my choice of pancakes.
Overall, I had a very good brunch here - relatively on par with my best brunch experiences overall. However, I am yet to be blown away by brunch food. I just feel as though brunch dishes are supposed to satisfy rather than wow, which is okay. I guess not every meal should be about culinary experimentation. I intend on coming back to the Chiltern Firehouse soon, but hopefully as a hotel guest rather than as a brunch customer.
1 Chiltern St
London W1U 7PA