Traditions are great, especially if they consist of me eating delicious food and drinking cocktails from a touristy piggy bank (don’t worry, I’ll explain this in my next post). Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, this post isn’t about me drinking novelty cocktails, but about our culinary adventure at Chiltern Firehouse in London. I love writing about food, so restaurant reviews are nothing new. Despite not being an expert, I am a big (probably getting bigger by the minute) fan of tasty treats and can appreciate the effort put into pleasing my taste buds.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that Ben and I are two very practical people and not very much into buying each other presents (gasps of shock and horror!). But as we get older, we realise that we don’t really need anything that we haven’t already bought ourselves (or that I already have a wardrobe full of, so much so that I’m hiding new shoes in guest bedroom now – ooops). But I got sidetracked. We like to treat one another to a meal in a restaurant we haven’t been to before. This year Chiltern Firehouse was a secret dinner I treated Ben to. We’ve been to The Clove Club and Caxton Grill (or Adam Handling at Caxton at the time), Sushisamba, Duck and Waffle and many others before and we can’t wait to discover even more.
Chiltern Firehouse was recommended by a friend, but I read so much about being treated funnily if you’re not a celeb that I was a bit skeptical. There was no need for my skepticism though. I had to book about three weeks in advance to get a table as we didn’t want to sit at the bar, but that’s easily done. They were very friendly and even offered to put me on the waiting list if I wanted to try to get a table sooner.
There’s no specific dress code, but I suggest you don’t turn up in trainers or looking scruffy. Not so much because of them, but you will feel a bit out of place. Ben wore dark jeans and a gingham shirt and I was in my work trousers and a nice top. Of course there are people dressed to the nines, who make your head turn if you wanted it or not, but we weren’t treated any better or worse. Looking around most people are casually elegant.
The staff was friendly and accommodating from the moment we entered and the other patrons were the same. We had a quick chat with people seating on either side of our table, which helped the pleasant atmosphere.
But we didn’t go to Chiltern Firehouse for the atmosphere (although it helps), so let’s talk food. We made sure we could try as many dishes as possible and none of them disappointed.
Crab-Stuffed Donuts with Coral Dusting were the first snack and they were yummy. Soft dough with tender crab mean was perfect to break the ice.
Bacon Cornbread with chipotle-maple butter was my favourite snack. Maybe because I love bacon, maybe because I love butter. But the whole dish together melted in your mouth and got my taste buds very excited for what was to come.
Ben decided to have Hay-Roasted Pigeon with cracked wheat, chicory & pistachio as a starter and it looked fabulous. I haven’t tried it, but he assures me it was cooked to perfection and the combination of flavours was spot on.
My starter had a lot to live up to. Steak Tartare is one of my favourite dishes, but only when my mum makes it. Hers is so fresh and delicious, always made with the finest meat, that I haven’t yet found one that would be satisfactory. Steak Tartare with Pine Nuts, chipotle and Firehouse Hot Sauce at Chiltern Firehouse deserves a decent review. It was good, I loved the runny egg yolk and crunchy bread, but my mum’s still wins. Sorry.
Iberico Pork with courgette, shiso & yeast wasn’t a surprising choice for me. It’s always a struggle to choose something that’s not pork when there’s pork on the menu. What was surprising was that Ben decided on this main as well. But it was well worth it. It’s done medium rare and I can say that this was the best tasting pork dish I have had so far. The meat was tender and the taste was nothing like I’ve known before. I was in pork heaven. The meat itself was so memorable that other components kind of evaporated from my memory. Pig is the definite star here.