Like the mythical creature which provides its name, Firebird has flown somewhat under the radar since opening in Soho. Founders Madina Kazhimova and Anna Dolgushina, of much-lauded Wong Kar Wine in St Petersburg, have arrived in London with little fanfare, and planted their flag on the north side of Soho. And yet - food cooked over fire, low intervention wines, an industrial-chic dining room… is this sounding familiar yet?
Still, the dining room is lovely on the eye. The mottled, deconstructed look of the walls is a nice contrast with the sleek furniture, and a wooden pergola encases the dining room, providing space for a handful of climbing and hanging plants.
The first thing you notice as you walk past the open kitchen is the smell - it’s the exciting whiff of smoke and caramelisation, as smoke trails drift from the open grill and into the restaurant. We’d find out pretty quickly, that smell was the toasted focaccia - a must order, if only to mop up the invigorating white wine butter sauce surrounding a heap of grilled prawns.
When Firebird is at its best, it’s delightful. The aforementioned prawns, for example, or a hulking lump of halloumi, which emerges branded with angry grill marks, covered in honey, truffle and slices of pickled plum. It’s a blissful combination that had us carefully assembling each mouthful in search of the perfect ratio.
Drinks have also been carefully considered - Dolgushina’s wine list is smart, with lots of room to explore different styles, and we loved the Bergamot Spritz cocktail, made with bergamot liqueur, white vermouth and sparkling wine.
The menu promises a great deal, but doesn’t always deliver - cooking over live fire can be a tricky business. A lamb leg steak, for example, arrived pretty rare by our tastes, whilst a piece of monkfish was a tad over, though still delicious. At around £70 a head, Firebird isn’t cheap either. That price pushes it into a bracket with some seriously good London restaurants, but with a few small tweaks, Firebird may yet soar amongst the best of them.