New York-based hotelier and developer André Balazs has acquired the Grade II-listed building that once housed Chiltern Street fire station and turned it into a boutique hotel – called, appropriately, the Chiltern Firehouse. The kitchen is fronted by red-hot Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes, though fans of his trailblazing Viajante may be disappointed: here the food offer is more ingredients-led with a strong American accent, reflecting the years Mendes spent in the States working with the likes of Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Wolfgang Puck (of Cut fame). Caesar salad is unexpectedly transformed with crunchy chicken skin, sea trout crudo with yellow mole sauce and coriander is a spanking-fresh spin on ceviche, and we loved the straightforward flavours of char-grilled Ibérico pork with roast garlic and lemon. Chiltern Firehouse is currently the hottest ticket in town: celebs sprinkle stardust through the dining room, while staff prove they are far more than a cast of pretty faces. If you can’t get a table, try the small-but-perfect bar, where appetite-spiking vermouth cocktails are partnered by knockout bites. Brunch offers a more affordable way in, but it’s worth persevering for that covetable dinner booking.
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