Last autumn, when I began to think about restaurant options to celebrate my birthday, Chiltern Firehouse was at the top of my list. It is one of the most talked about restaurants in London, and last summer barely a week went by without another photo on the Daily Mail website of a celeb on their way in or out of the place.
Unlike the Delevingne sisters, we had to book the table a couple of months in advance, but I think it was more than worth it.
There’s not a big sign outside telling you that you have arrived, but you know you’re there because you’re stood outside a swanky old fire station.
There is a red lamp on the outside of the building with ‘Fire’ written on it, and to enter you have to walk through a courtyard lit with decorative lamps. The courtyard was dreamy, and I can imagine it being an amazing setting for a cocktail or two in the summer!
My first impression upon entering the restaurant was that it was extremely busy. Our table was booked for 6.30, and when we arrived at this time, the bar area was already overcrowded, and there were plenty of women walking around who were dolled up to the nines.
I could easily tell that it was one of London’s top venues from the moment the waitress walked over. She recited what her favourite dishes were and what she would recommend (practically the whole menu), and then sent a sommelier over to take our wine order.
To start, I went for the Foie Gras Terrine, which was a meal in itself, and came with pecans, smoked grapes and Iberico ham on fancy toast. It was delicious.
Karen went for the unusual Pumkin Porridge, George had Steak Tartare, and Ben had a Hay-Roasted Pigeon.
I couldn’t decide on a main course, mainly because the dish accompaniments were very random. In the end, I went for one of the dishes the waitress had recited and said was one of the restaurant’s signature dishes: the Monkfish with reduced milk, celeriac and wild rice.
I definitely wouldn’t have been able to predict what the Monkfish would look like before it came. It slightly resembled potpourri on a plate, with white whisps of celeriac covering the monkfish and rice underneath. Luckily, it tasted much better than potpourri!
The Monkfish was delicious and the celeriac added some lovely texture and crunch.
The biggest surprise of the night actually came from the carrots! The waitress suggested that I would need some veg to go with my main course, and offered the Smoked Carrots. As soon as I’d accepted I was contemplating changing my mind, because carrots are one of the blandest vegetables there is. However, I was gobsmacked to later find out that this was the best order I could have placed!
The roasted carrots were cooked to perfection with the skin on, and had a very un-carrot-like spiced curry flavour to them.
I’m not sure how, but we still had room for dessert, so Ben and I shared the Chocolate Frangipane.
The Chiltern Firehouse fairies knew that it was my birthday, and the dessert arrived with a candle and ‘Happy Birthday’ written in chocolate sauce across the top. It was a fun and thoughtful end to the evening.