London: posh night out at Nuno Mendes' Chiltern Firehouse
If you’re looking for a hip restaurant with good food, a loud and fancy crowd and the posh backdrop of a private members clubs, then Chiltern Firehouse it is.
London has always been about the fancy dinner night outs and that is not going to change no matter how bohemian and hip the food scene becomes. On that end of the spectrum, the Chiltern Firehouse did create a certain buzz when it first opened in 2015. Nuno Mendes, the widely acclaimed and one-Michelin star awarded chef, was appointed to host a modern International menu with a Peruvian twist that changes quite regularly adapting to each season’s best ingredients.
We visited on a late weekday evening with a party of 5 on what transpired to a joyful night out with lots of tasty -almost comfort food- goodies in play. Waiting to be seated to our table, we roamed around the lively marble-topped bar and were greeted by the half-serious half-relaxed per tenders that immediately got us onto the single malt whiskey track. Liquor was pouring, music was playing and as we took our seats in a rotunda table booth our hungry appetite started kicking in.
Fresh, strong-flavored oysters got us started along with an apple-infused, yet semi-bland, portion of diced scallops. Regardless of the hiccup, we carried on with a range of starters that were astounding. Rich and chunky bites of beef tartare were presented with a bed of black truffle flakes on what followed up as a repeat order a few minutes later. On the seafood front we tasted a perfectly balanced smoked eel dish, as well as tasteful ceviche with fish eggs and hazelnuts. An enriched burrata and a Ceasar’s salad topped with crispy chicken skin (instead of chicken breast strips) were also decent.
Moving on though to the main courses was what really did the trick and culminated the whole dining experience. A 80oz whole roasted duck was first presented on a platter decorated with a few pine tree branches that was then sliced and served into hearty portions of finely cooked duck breast meat in jus. The Iberico pork came also sliced in a creamy sauce sprinkled with roasted pumpkin seeds and the beef fillet with chargrilled vegetables. Little did we know though as meat was not the highlight of the meal. Although a couple of us did want to go for the gnocchi as a main course, we opted for a portion of them in the center… something that elevated the whole meal. Freshly-prepared gnocchi with burnt brown butter, sesame seeds and chargrilled veggies on the side. Astounding! And yet another repeat order.
Desserts were not that great apart from the cherry compote pavlova but that didn’t deter us a quite bit. All in all, another memorable meal in the heart of London, if you exclude the bill that came back quite heavy.