Chiltern Firehouse is Nuno Mendes' latest venture (who I keep calling Nuno Gomez, who is - was - a Portuguese footballer). Anyway, it's obviously not him, we all know Nuno Mendes, he of Viajante fame. With that and the Corner Room closed, soon to reopen with, who else, but Jason Atherton at the helm, Nuno has moved on, he's now in cahoots with hotelier Andre Balazs.
I'll not lie, I was steaming drunk when I arrived at Chiltern Firehouse, I blame my friends and Mezcal for this mishap in equal parts and can only apologize to Art who patiently listened to me talk a lot of nonsense for 3 hours. We started things off with the cauliflower florets in truffle paste (£4) and fried chicken (£5), the latter was incredible, bacon bits sitting on top of a dish of bacon aioli, does a dip get better than that? I think not.
Something that good is hard to outshine, but the crab doughnuts (£5) managed that. Just look at them. I might have said I don't like doughnuts but these are one of the best mouthfuls of food I've ever eaten. The snack menu is spectacular. As is the open kitchen, such a hive of activity. Things running impressively smoothly given how little time they've been up and running for. We sat at the bar, which is great because it's lower than your usual bar seating, made me happy given my woosiness.
Art's starter of steak tartare (£11) fights my main for my favourite actual dish of the night. Served with chipotle ketchup and the usual accompaniments but with a bit more panaché than your average version. Loved it. I had the octopus with aubergine and mushrooms (£14), very good, but incidental compared to the tartare.
My main however, was very impressive, slow roasted shortrib with hazelnut and bone marrow (£28). The marrow was hiding beneath the meat, little onions and watercress rounded things off and I could not have been happier. Art was less pleased with the monkfish with barley and fennel (£26).
Onto desserts, in an unfortunate turn of events, I neglected to order the frozen apple pannacotta, it's a sort of baked alaska and I blame my dilapidated state for this oversight. The poached rhubarb sundae (£8) was a good contender though. Dessert wine placated me.
I'm so glad I got to try this place before I left, booking before the important gushing reviews poured in, there's now a 2 month wait for a table I'm told. You should still go obviously, but, if you're reading this, you most likely already are.
1 Chiltern St