A double header of ex Viajante chefs in two days starts with Leandro Carreira pop up at One Leicester Street. Teamed with cocktail makers Talented Mr Fox which resides in the same building, they have created an eight course menu with drink pairing for £88 and runs every Thursday, Friday and Saturdday until the end of May.
The evening starts with some canapé with champaign as the eleven guests mingle around the supper club style long communal table. Dishes such as Cheese and Pea is served with a TMF ‘dry pea wine’ that has distilled pea essences in it which boost the grassiness of the dish. Beautifully cooked Monkfish and alliums is definitely the highlight. The cooking style has a distinct Iberian peninsula flavour with emphasis on seafood and seasonal produce. It is also open to various foraged herbs and flower and put them centre stage. Together with more chefy techniques such as sou-vids and adventurous flavour pairing, it is an evening of discovery and pleasure. Despite this, some dishes are more successful than others and the setup may not be somewhere that would necessarily encourage repeated visits despite its weekly changing menu.
The next day brings the newly opened Chiltern Firehouse whose executive chef is Nuno Mendes, the ex-headchef of Viajante. At Viajante, their experimentation is exciting though it can be a bit hit and miss. Here he has distilled those experimentation and created a menu full of recognisable dishes such as caesar salad and steak tatare, but extracting the essence of the dish and adding a modern twist to it. The starter of Prawn Crudo, yellow mole, coriander is surprisingly substantial despite appearance. The raw prawn and its accompanying chilled purée is full of a fresh sweet acidity. The main of Chargrilled Iberico Pork roasted garlic & lemon is perfectly cooked and lightly accompanied which shows off the meat. And the sides of gem heart lettuce and sprouting broccoli exemplifies the simplicity of their dishes yet done to perfection.
Chiltern Firehouse is perhaps the best among stiff competition such as Brasserie Chavot and Social Eating House which are perhaps similar in style and atmosphere. And already impossible to get a table for the next three months so best to plan ahead.