In the run-up to the 17th of May, which signals a return for indoor hospitality (finally!), our neighbour Chiltern Firehouse has been preparing to welcome guests back again to its courtyard, restaurant, and Laddershed bar.
For a quick taste, our restaurant insider Adam Hyman, founder of CODE Hospitality, caught up with their executive chef Richard Foster to find out more.
Welcome back! What have you been doing over the last five months while the restaurant and hotel have been closed?
I have a toddler, so he keeps us very busy, all the time, and is a bit of a welcomed distraction to be honest as January and February were long months. We’ve also been house hunting, so that’s been kind of fun. Food-wise, we’ve been working on lots of new dishes in the Chiltern Firehouse kitchen.
How have you managed to keep your chefs engaged during lockdown?
All three lockdowns have been unique in their own way. During the first lockdown, we were on Zoom chats all the time; playing games, having fun, and trying to distract ourselves. In the second lockdown, we were all frustrated at how it went down, so we all went into a state of recluse. By the time the third one happened, I think we’d all got used to it and we had other things going on by that point with new hobbies to distract us. I think we were all in a stronger place this time round and the team has definitely coped better.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve all been doing mental health courses with Hospitality Action, it’s something that’s very close to my heart and the team responded really well, which was encouraging to see.
What’s the menu looking like? Have you any new dishes on the menu?
We’ve been working on a lot of vegetable-focused dishes and we have made a conscious effort to cook like this (in part fuelled by how the team and I have been eating through the numerous lockdowns). The cooking is based on vegetables and utilising our huge grill and wood oven. We want to draw amazing flavours out of impeccably sourced and mostly British ingredients aided by a fantastic pantry of ferments, pickles, misos, cures, seasonings and other vegetable sauces.
"We devote our lives to trying to make people happy and without that connection it was hard."
What have you most missed about hospitality being closed?
The people, my colleagues, and the guests alike. It’s hard to comprehend how much we need that – when it was taken away from us, it was an incredibly strong feeling of grief. We devote our lives to trying to make people happy and without that connection it was hard.
We’ve noticed there’s been lots of action happening in the courtyard of the Firehouse – what’s happening?
You’ll have to come by and see. They’ve managed to retain the feeling of an oasis – it looks great! I hear it’s going to continue to evolve over the summer.
When you’re not at the Firehouse, what are your favourite places to eat in London?
I’m an east London boy at heart, so lots of quirky places, like Dom’s Subs, Perilla, Nest and Pollo Feliz taqueria at Netil market - it’s awesome. In the latest easing of lockdown rules, I’ve rediscovered the joys of Soho - lots of restaurants there that float my boat - like Noble Rot, Hoppers and KILN. But my favourite place to eat out is Western’s Laundry, I love it.
Thank you so much for your time, Richard. Good luck with the opening and see you in the courtyard hopefully!
1 Chiltern St, London W1U 7PA | www.chilternfirehouse.com
If you’re unable to get yourself a reservation at the Firehouse, below are five other spots Adam likes to dine at that are within walking distance of our ChilternStreet shop.
Located on the same street as Trunk Clothiers and LABS, you could easily walk past this cosy-looking coffee shop and think it was just a place to grab a flat white and pastry but there’s so much more to Il Blandford’s. Owner Jessica serves some of the best Italian food in the neighbourhood – from daily pasta specials to a hearty cotoletta alla Milanese.
65 Chiltern St, London W1U 6NH
Corbin & King’s Viennese restaurant at the top of Marylebone High Street transports you to the Austrian capital both culinary and aesthetically. Classical music plays softly in the background as diners enjoy beetroot and herring brötchen, veal bratwurst and Spätzle. There are, of course, three different schnitzels on the menu along with three different strengths of mustard. I like a spot at the bar for an early Sunday supper and a glass or two of Riesling.
50 Marylebone High St, London W1U 5HN
For some reason, finding a spot for a drink in central London that isn’t either a pub or a private members’ club can be notoriously tricky. That’s why I like Clarette on the corner of Manchester Street and Blandford Street. In what was a former pub is now a chic wine bar with a great list of wines by the glass and if the sun is shining, their outside terrace is a perfect spot to enjoy a glass of something crisp while watching the world go by.
44 Blandford St, London W1U 7HS
Opening a restaurant, regardless of who you are, is not an easy thing to do. So, imagine you’re Santiago Lastra and you launch your first standalone restaurant in London before having to close it a number of days later due to the second national lockdown. It takes a lot more than a pandemic to stop the man who helped René Redzepi launch NOMA Mexico. The cuisine is rooted in tradition but with a Lastra’s twist – think langoustine taco and a whole grilled octopus with bone marrow… be sure to venture downstairs to the Mezcaleria after dinner too.
9 Seymour St, London W1H 7BA
The Golden Hind
Never judge a book by its cover and this is very much the case for the Golden Hind, tucked off the High Street on Marylebone Lane. This fish and chip shop has been serving Londoners since 1914 and any restaurant that can survive over 100 years in this city deserves a mention. They now also serve alcohol – so you don’t have to BYO to enjoy alongside your haddock and chips. I’ve seen Paul McCartney there a few times… if it’s good enough for him…
73 Marylebone Ln, London W1U 2PN