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|Address:||1 Chiltern Street, London W1U 7PA|
|Tel:||020 7073 7676|
|Price: £59.00||Wine: £19.00||Champagne: £47.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 8-10.30am 12N-2pm 6-10.30pm Sat-Sun 11am-3pm 6-10.30pm|
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I have a soft spot for the old fire station on Chiltern Street, having had the former inhabitants attend on a couple of occasions (the first a cooking related smoke incident, the second a full-on fire type emergency), so it was with mixed emotions that I took the news that it was to close and become a hotel. The transformation, however, is stunning: a second, near identical building to the one that housed the tenders has been erected, and the home of the tenders now houses the restaurant. (The fireman's pole has been kept, intersecting a corner table, which is a nice touch).
The entrance via the courtyard feels like going through the courtyard at the SoHo Grand, although here there is a livered flunky to point you the ten yards to the door.
The dining room is big and airy, with a raised section at the back for the non-A-list contingent, a small bar area and an open kitchen. Mirrors along the back wall allow a good view of the entire operation, an operation that looks and feels like it has been transported whole from Manhattan, which, given that it is the sister of the Standard Hotel in NYC (that oh so hip it hurts hotel that straddles the High Line in the even more achingly hip Meatpacking district), is probably what they were looking for. But this is Marylebone. Marylebone doesn't really do hip. Gentile; yes. Hip; not so much.
It is just so out of place with the woodwind stores, bridal shops and dress and shoe shops for those with oversized feet that call this street home (if you are a clarinet playing, six-foot plus, bride-to-be with size 15 feet, this is street for you). I am sure that Tyler Brule (whose Monocle moved in a couple of years ago) will welcome this urbane coolness, but then again, he won't even let people leave their jackets on the back of their chairs in the office, so hardly a great judge of anything really.
But that really isn't the worst of it. The worst of it is well; everything. It is a restaurnat so far up its own backside that it can see what it had for lunch; everything grated, from the sommelier who “remembered” me from Lutyens and who then proceeded to suggest a bottle of wine that was £145 from a list that started at excessive and quickly fled to obscene, to the “suggested” 15% tip (which I countered with a suggestion of 10%), and everything in between. It is hard to pick out what was the most irritating thing: being offered bread and seeing it turn up as a cost on the bill would normally do it for me but no, it was the waiter. Not all of them, just one. I don't know if I have pissed him off in a previous restaurant or if he was just a clumsy lumux, but EVERY time he walked behind me he kicked the chair or nudged me. Not once, but every single time. Now I'm not an aggressive person by nature, but on the fifth or sixth time I turned around and asked him to stop doing it. OK, it might have been a bit more anglo saxon than that, but he ignored me, walked away and never walked behind my chair again.
OK, the food is, as you'd expect from a chef of the quality of Nuno Mendes, very good and the waiting staff (other than the aforementioned lumux) friendly enough, but that just isn't enough these days, when there are so many fabulous restaurants in Marylebone, let alone the rest of this great town.
Clearly they are gunning not for the likes of me, a local resident, but for the it crowd (Kate and Naomi were in for the official launch, I gather, and Madge has been seen to have put in an appearance), and they are welcome to it. It may be the second closest restaurant to my house, but I'd rather have a bacon roll at the Chiltern Rooms than pass by that flunky again.