Places To Eat In London: The Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone
After waking up, taking a lovely hot shower and watching the morning news in a fuzzy bathrobe at The Marylebone Hotel, we wrapped up and miraculously managed to dodge the rain and escape the London grey to snuggle up at The Chiltern Firehouse for my birthday breakfast. I’d heard some mixed things – I really wanted to go, and as it is a bit pricy it needed to be saved for a special occasion, and while I know a lot of people who love it there, when others heard I was going to celebrate my birthday, they urged me to cancel my reservation (which had to be made far in advance) and to book a table somewhere else. I’m really glad we didn’t.
While there are lots of lovely spring flowers springing into life in flowerpots around the courtyard, one of the nicest things about the restaurant I think will be their beautiful terrace in the summer. A little less impressive in the grey, but I had to take a few snaps to show its potential!
However, the inside is fantastic whatever the weather. Not only are the bar, restaurant and open kitchen beautiful, but the attention to detail is fantastic, from the pretty metal inlayed steps between different parts of the restaurant, to the sweet pepper pots on each table, to the smart blue cotton napkins, monogrammed with the restaurants name. And who does not love perfect marble tables and bright, smart menus.
We started with silver pots of English Breakfast and Peppermint tea, and New York style Bloody Mary’s. As is well documented, I’m a bit of a Bloody Mary snob, and this one ticked all of the boxes, a beautiful balance, just the right amount of spice, and a good flavour. The only qualm I have is that it was a bit smaller than most of the Bloody Mary’s I’ve had in the city, not really what you want in a breakfast/ brunch drink.
Now, before I get onto the main breakfast items, I want to talk about toast. I don’t normally order toast, thinking it is something I can handily make myself at home, but we were all a bit hungry, so we went for a couple of stacks. If there is a couple of you to share, order the toast. Not only did the slightly seedy, beautifully crisp sourdough go perfectly with my breakfast, I was informed that the whipped butter that went with it was beautifully light, and I became slightly addicted to the absolutely delicious homemade strawberry jam. Perfectly sweet and more-ish without being sickly, and I ordinarily prefer raspberry.
Mummy was on the fence between the Eggs Royale and the Buttermilk pancakes, until a tower of the pancakes came out of the kitchen past us. After seeing these, how can you not order them? They were light, fluffy and very, very delicious, served up with fresh blueberries and blueberry compote, the more unusual but also very welcome addition of creme fraiche (the really good kind), and a generous jug of maple syrup. While I am more of a savoury person at breakfast, if I go again for breakfast, I’ll order a stack of these to share for the table, because they were just that good (and sharing plates of pancakes should always be something to aim for).
Daddy and I had the Lobster and Crab Omelette, made with chervil, potatoes and coral mayo. I’d expected it to be more like the Lobster Omelette I order at Salt Air in Venice (The Chiltern Firehouse does not advertise as an L.A.-inspired restaurant, but they’re run by the same team behind the Chateau Marmont, and to anyone used to brunching in Los Angeles it is obvious), but I was pleasantly surprised by this slightly Japanese number when I arrived. The egg was rich and with such a light texture, and the topping was unusual, delicious, and full of flavour. Though, I’m not sure about the whole ‘coral mayo’ thing – I swear that is Kewpie on top! If you’re at all into anything I’ve just mentioned here, order this. I promise you you won’t regret it.
While I will never recommend anywhere in London for brunch over Beagle in Hoxton, if you’re looking for breakfast somewhere that is open mid-week for a special occasion, I can’t recommend The Chiltern Firehouse enough – don’t listen to the naysayers! I want to go back to try their soft boiled eggs with truffle soldiers, poached eggs with spiced avocado toast, and their French Toast with bacon and spiced maple syrup.