With its location in the leafy West London suburb of Chiswick, No 197 Chiswick Fire Station is fast becoming one of the hottest new bars to check out, with their instagrammable brunches, alfresco garden and DJ-accompanied-dining luring in people from across the capital. Since opening doors around two months ago, they’ve received huge attention from all sorts, including design buffs who long to while away a lazy lunch in its fashionable interior. Curious to find out more, Kasha and I went down to taste their dinner menu one Friday evening.
Nestled amid dozens of inviting eateries, chilled out pubs and quirky antique stores, No 197 Chiswick Fire Station occupies an enviable position in the heart of town in the former home of the local fire brigade. The doors are thrown open and as soon as you enter you are greeted with white washed walls and a decor of curious contrasts. Seating comes in the form of long shared tables, cosy booths, pastel pink couches, small tables directly below a sun dappled skylight or alfresco dining at the rear.
The chic furnishings and pop culture references – including a framed picture of Elvis in rabbit ears, tall cactus plants and abstract art – create an effortlessly cool and creative feel throughout. Design fans will especially love the use of contrasts, think breeze blocks and terracotta tiles, chunky bar stools and brushed metal lampshades and, of course, lots of light and space.
At the start of the evening, suited business sorts were drinking at the entrance tables, a few families enjoyed their meal, some patrons lingered at the circular bar and couples were starting their night with an indulgent cocktail. From my vantage point at the rear of the bar, I noticed the tables start to fill up as our meal went on, eventually realising they were actually fully booked. Impressed, I talked to the manager, who confirmed that they are often fully booked all week long, with regulars encouraged to book weeks in advance; impressive for a new establishment.
The Food & Drink
First things first, the drinks. The bar proudly boasts an expansive cocktail menu complete with homemade syrups and inventive new twists. In order to make sure we enjoyed the full Fire Station experience we quenched our thirst with a Gingerbread Manhattan (£9.75) and a Fruit Cup (£9.50). As a fan of stronger libations, the Manhattan hit the spot, big on rye and whiskey but with a sweetness from the homemade gingerbread syrup to balance it out. Kasha’s Fruit Cup pretty much tasted like summer in a glass thanks to the notes of cucumber and abundance of fresh fruit.
The hardest thing about the food menu is trying not to order everything on it, especially when it comes to the starters. What makes the menu stand out, is the belief in cooking everything from scratch, so when the Aubergine & Sweet Potato Croquettes (£7.50) and Crispy Peppered Squid (£7.95) arrived you could taste the freshness of the ingredients and the love that went into making them. Case in point is the fantastic homemade bread that they serve up with individually wrapped parcels of butter.
For mains, Kasha opted for one of their classic dishes, the Chicken, Ham Hock, Leek & Tarragon Pie (£14.50). This quality, gourmet dish is packed with flavour but also boasts all the comfort of a home cooked meal, especially since it’s served in a sweet pie pot with a little birdie poking its head through the flaky pastry. Inside you’ll devour thick chunks of chicken and ham coated in a rich sauce; this is definitely one of the best pies in London. Unless you’re not feeling particularly hungry, you’ll most likely need to pair this with a side, we chose a portion of Truffle Macaroni Cheese (£4) which was delicious but lacked the earthy truffle flavour I was hoping for.
On the other side of the table, I chose the Flat Iron Chicken (£14.50). When I asked what kind of flavour the sauce was that accompanied it, the waiter assured me it was unlike anything I had ever tried before. Despite this somewhat mysterious description, the dish was incredibly moreish. The flattened bird arrived with a rich Moroccan style sauce, green beans, new potato and black beans.
Although we really, really didn’t need to, we felt it was necessary to round off the meal with something sweet. As an example of the kind of seasonal dish on offer, we greedily devoured the Eton Mess (£6.95). This summer classic arrived with crumbly chunks of treacle meringue, vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries.
A waiting list as long as your arm, a location in a fashionable West London neighbourhood and a decor so cool it runs the risk of overshadowing the menu; this place has spades of style but – thankfully – the kitchen has the goods to back it up. While a lot of reviewers have focused on No 197 Chiswick Fire Station as a boozy brunch hangout, I feel like it’s actually a really good all-rounder. For dinner it’s a vibrant, busting social hub, for brunch its showboatingly Instagram-friendly and for those just dropping by, the lively ambiance and cosy booths make for ideal drinking spots – there’s even a DJ spinning tunes over the weekend!
Overall, it’s a little bit of a journey from central London to get here, but completely worth your time. I’m pleased to say this bar lived up to the hype, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what else they have to offer. Until next time…
*Pin me for laters*
I was invited to enjoy this meal by the lovely folk at No 197 Chiswick Fire Station, but as always, any opinions expressed are entirely my own.
If you enjoyed this restaurant review, why not check out my visit to the fantastic Duck and Waffle in the Heron Tower.