Chiltern Firehouse is having a moment of glory, you can’t open any kind of salacious rag these days without encountering a celebrity falling out of it’s black gates. Some A-list, some Z-list, this is the place to see and be seen. Which of course means mere mortals like my good self struggle to get a reservation at a fun seating like dinner, but we’re determined to go and one day, bright and early, we arrive at 8am for breakfast.
I recognise the place mainly because of the paparazzi shots of the black gates and even at 8am stands a bouncer at guard to admit entrance. The sun-dappled courtyard is charming but it’s empty so we hasten inside to find the celebrities.
Oh wait, it’s 8am and they’re all in bed. Nothing to see here then. As you probably know, this is an old Firehouse, the narrow hallways and fireman poles in the corridors are still there but the main dining room is large, buzzy and is starting to fill up slowly, but there’s still room for more, breakfast clearly not being their busy time.
This is not good news for us, because clearly breakfast is where they put the staff that aren’t quite up to date with the service with a smile. A friend would like Eggs Royale, which are a little oft-menu. It’s hardly a challenging request, Eggs Benedict features on the menu as does Poached Eggs on Potato cakes with Smoked salmon (I’ve gone for this one) so swapping out the Benedict for Royale shouldn’t be too much of an ask. Cue an awkward 5 minute conversation with the waiter, who’s trying his very hardest to convince her to choose something else. because he doesn’t want to check with the kitchen.
Another friend would like Eggs Benedict without any Hollandaise sauce and I’m afraid our waiter will cry. He could use a crash course in eggs. When he’s at breaking point, we confuse him further with a round of orders for drinks. Admittedly, my mocha is delicious. However, I hadn’t realised that in the medley of drinks that arrived at the table, the chocolate part of my Mocha was actually served separately. My error perhaps, but it’s not something I’ve encountered before and I could have used having it pointed out to me.
The arrival of our plates causes more chaos. There are 3 plates of eggs with smoked salmon and they’re placed in front of the wrong people so we ask – which is the Eggs Royale and which are the others? “This one has the Latke” she says. I have no idea what Latke’s are and say that I’m not sure which one that is, but she just repeats herself. Louder. You know that way you automatically raise your voice to someone who speaks in a foreign language, because somehow making it louder will make it understandable. This carries on for another round before we give up, take a bite of the plate in front of us and do the appropriate shuffle around ourselves.
Latkes are in fact Potato Pancakes. Is that common enough knowledge? I don’t know.
The breakfasts are delicious though, it’s interesting to see that the Eggs Benedict sit not on English muffins but on scones, but pronounced delicious in any regard. My Latkes are soft and savoury and have a distinct warm flavour to them that complements the richness of the eggs and smoked salmon perfectly. There’s a lot of appreciation for the fact the Eggs Benedict aren’t doused in Hollandaise, too often it masks any taste of the dish but this strikes exactly the right balance.
After another round of delicious chocolatey mochas, we depart for the real world. Although the food was lovely, the staff really let down what was supposed to be a treat of an experience, coming to the much famed, much lauded Chiltern Firehouse when bookings seem so hard to come by. Are they just putting the trainees on the breakfast crowd? Could be, but I’d still expect an understanding of basic breakfast dishes.
Perhaps I should just try and come back to the beautifully set out bar for a drink. All the cool, with none of the hassle. If they let me in, that is.