Chiltern Firehouse, W1U

When we realised that the April gathering of Brunch Club would be our third anniversary of brunching together, we knew we had to book somewhere special. And so, on Sunday 14th April 2019, we headed to Chiltern Firehouse, 1 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, London W1U 7PA where we had booked a table to treat ourselves to chef Nuno Mendes’ delicious sounding brunch menu. We even got new Brunch Club badges for the occasion, commissioned from Kate Rowland.

INITIAL BEVERAGES

ED: Lou and I had a fantastic pot of tea. Perfect balance of strength, heat and flavour. Magical!
ELEANOR: I had an excellent flat white in a beautiful cup and saucer.
LOU: Ed and I shared a pot of tea and, well, it was probably the best loose leaf tea I have drunk at Brunch Club in a while. I’d love to know the blend they used!
LORI: I had my usual soya flat white and it was extremely tasty. Forever a creature of habit, I followed it up with a fresh orange juice which was also excellent.

Eleanor’s flat white and one of our fab new Brunch Club badges!

WHAT WE HAD

ED: In the spirit of adventure I decided to have the Mushroom and Daikon Okonomiyaki, something I’d never heard of before but was curious about. It was absolutely stunningly delicious, a sort of pancake thingy with mushrooms, spring onion, nuts and yuzu mayonnaise which was delicious. For my brunch pudding I had pancakes and my goodness, they were three thick round pillowy things, with a side tray with loose blueberries, creme fraiche, a fruit compote and a small jug of maple syrup. When attacking a large portion of pancakes you can sometimes run out of toppings and you find the whole thing dry and difficult to finish, however this wasn’t the case here. Everything was just perfect, I had enough variety of toppings to last to the end. The quality of the food was sort of indescribable, so I’m finding it hard to express how wonderful it was!
ELEANOR: I was so torn by the menu! I ended up going for the ham hock and mustard hash with spring greens which was tasty with the mustard adding a sharpness to the dish. For afters I went with good old French toast. This was light and fluffy but, as always, could’ve done with a bit more rhubarb topping. I also had a glass of orange juice which was possibly the best OJ I’ve drunk.

Eleanor’s Parmesan Gnocchi & Ham Hock Hash, with spring vegetables & fried egg

LOU: I went for the Schwarma, which was a beautifully cured and seasoned, finely sliced rib eye served rare (but not bloody) on top of creamy scrambled egg on top of which was possibly a potato scone. The dish was decadent and I wished I’d ordered a side of greens to cut through the richness. I went for a lighter desert called the Forest which was astounding – sorrel granita and a blueberry sorbet on a sort of dark berry set custard/pannacotta with fresh blueberries scattered all over. It was such an interesting dish – fresh, light, not at all sweet… And it turned my tongue blue!
LORI: I decided to treat myself and go for the lobster and crab omelette, which comes topped with shiso leaves and coral mayo. It arrived at the table hot in the pan, the omelette a bright yellow perfectly-cooked disc topped with impressive chunks of lobster and crab meat – it was an utter delight for the eyes, taste buds and stomach! From the dessert menu, I went for the rhubarb and vanilla rice pudding, a delicious cold dish topped with crunchy rhubarb pieces and crisped puffs of rice. I finished the meal feeling perfectly satisfied due to well-balanced flavours and portion sizes that were ideal for the ingredients… like Ed said, it’s hard to describe just how wonderful the food was!

Lori’s Lobster & Crab Omelette, with shiso & coral mayo, and Lou’s Rib Eye Shawarma in the background.

WHAT DID WE CHAT ABOUT?

ED: Lots of catching up, which was much needed!
ELEANOR: Drag Race, of course! Wedding talk. Spreadsheets! Interviews for jobs and tests.
LOU: There was some seriously lovely catching up.
LORI: We’ve all been so busy lately that there was a lot to catch up on! I feel like there was more discussion of jobs than Drag Race this time… not sure if that’s more a reflection on us or Season 11!

Ed’s pillowy pancakes (with four toppings in the background)

SERVICE, ATMOSPHERE, TOILET STANDARDS/QUIRKS

ED: As this was a special Brunch Club, the location was much fancier than anything we’ve tried before. When I first arrived, there was no real indication that I was in the right place and I didn’t know who was staff and who were guests loitering around the entrance, luckily a man who turned out to be staff pointed me in the right direction. As it is an exclusive hotel as well as a restaurant, I think the place being a little anonymous is all part of the exclusivity, so bear this in mind as I felt a little awkward initially. The service at the table was really great. Toilets were pretty strange, but very posh indeed, lots of wood, atmospheric lighting and mirrors!
ELEANOR: The service, as expected, was impeccable. No rushing and our server Emilio was lovely. Toilets were lovely but had the strangest musical soundtrack! We had the novelty of being sat around the original fire pole, though this meant the seats were fixed with no chance to make room for full tummies under the table and going to the loo was a palaver.
LOU: as Eleanor says, the service was great – but I was confused that they didn’t leave our tap water on the table, and it was somewhat uncomfortable when we had to query an overcharge on our bill, though the staff handled that well. There is an accessible loo that can be reached via the lift in the main hotel – not especially easy to get to from the restaurant.
LORI: I’m not sure I would have found the entrance had I not received instructions from Lou! Once inside, our ‘round the pole’ table was the perfect spot to celebrate 3 years of brunching together and the service was excellent.

Eleanor’s French Toast at Chiltern Firehouse

POST-BRUNCH PLANS

ED: Straight back up to Muswell Hill to do a bit of shopping and a walk with the husband.
ELEANOR: After selfies, I popped to Lush to pick up a bath bomb and had an odd chat with the person in the shop about eating their products… Once I got home, I napped for five hours then went to bed.
LOU: I went home and caught up on laundry.
LORI: I went to a wedding show at ExCel, which needed a couple of glasses of prosecco because the wedding industry is truly bizarre.

Lori’s rhubarb and vanilla rice pudding at Chiltern Firehouse.

FINAL THOUGHTS

ED: Possibly the fanciest brunch we will EVER do?! I really enjoyed it as the food was really really special and I had such a lovely time catching up with everyone. Definitely only appropriate for a brunch to celebrate a big anniversary or if you’ve just won an Oscar, something like that!
ELEANOR: This was a real treat. I think it’s best to go for the non-traditional brunch options – regretting not having a frozen apple panna cotta now!
LOU: I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant, the warm service and the wide range of choices, but at a steep price point it was definitely a ‘treat’ brunch. A lovely spot for a special birthday or catching up with friends.
LORI: OMG, this was glorious! Makes you dream of being a person who goes to places like this to eat all the time. Chiltern Firehouse managed to be the ultimate ‘foodie’ brunch without having a menu that would intimidate those who rarely do something spendy. I’m already thinking of special occasions which might require a return visit!

The image at the top of this post is via chilternfirehouse.com. All other images were snapped by Brunch Club members on their phones, so excuse any blurriness as we were all rather excited about eating the food.