Elvis stands in a white jumpsuit in front of heat-shimmering railway tracks on the outskirts of a desert town. It’s just one of a handful of quirky artworks that adorn the pristine walls of Chiswick Fire Station. It’s probably the most fitting too, as this huge space channels an incredible glittering yet rustic vibe (gold light fittings meet washed-out wooden tables and bleached stools at the kitchen counter). It’s kind of minimalist Miami meets upmarket hacienda.
Walking in through the tall doors, you are immediately meet with a kind of reception area, a few tables and chairs dotted around, an explosion of tastefully arranged greenery and behind all this a huge oval bar. It’s like walking into the pages of an interior design magazine, and it’s incredible that a place of such over-sized proportions manages to feel personal – a lot of that is due to the staff.
Beyond the bar, which in encircled by grey, swivel high stools, is the main dining area. Here there are standalone tables and a few booths that are pretty private due to the high dividers – the hacienda thing comes in here again, they remind me of horse stables but in the nicest possible way. In addition, a few shell pink and peach sofas have attracted the attention of roaming toddlers while their parents cautiously checking for sticky fingers – this PG-rated upholstery.
As the L-shaped kitchen turns a corner, the floors turns to red bricks and leads out to the light-filled white courtyard, where plants are being trained around trellises overhead. On the Sunday lunchtime that we visit, you could easily imagine lounging here for hours, heading inside as the temperature drops to sip on cocktails.
It’s against this chameleon-esque backdrop that the team serves up a weekend menu that flits from brunch cocktails, all-day brunch, small and sharing, roasts (served from noon on Sunday), mains, little people, sides and puds. The drinks menu also has something for everyone – draught, cask conditioned, craft and bottled beers, four versions of the beloved Old Fashioned, a number of cocktails including a reassuring selection of house classics (read old reliables with a twist – definitely want to had back here for the Pineapple and Sage Mojito), house lemonade – we ordered the fresh berry and mint, and elderflower and cucumber versions that were delicious and refreshing. Buckets of wine, of course, divided into style as well as colour. Dessert wine, port and sherry. And really decent coffee – which is great because sometimes it’s hard to find a place that gets the bean and the food right. This place is a safe bet for both, but then they source their stuff from Caravan roastery in Exmouth Market so I should hope so.
Feeling slightly worse for wear, we opt for all-day brunch offerings: No 197 Bacon Sandwich, Avocado Cheese Toasty with taleggio and buttered sourdough (you can take your smashed avocado and shove it Nigella, I prefer mine with heaps of melted cheese), and Panfried Field Mushrooms with marinated ricotta, truffle balsamic and Parmesan on toasted sourdough – rich, earthy and reassuring.
Sure, there’s nothing revolutionary going on here – unless you count the Heston Blumenthal-style pineapples rotating peacefully on a rotisserie, their tangy, citrus juices slowly caramelising ready to be served for dessert alongside an eye-squintingly tart passionfruit sorbet – but the portions are big and the flavours spot on. In fact dessert is all together a little more adventurous – like the kind of deconstructed baked orange cheesecake with fresh grapefruit.
Now excuse me while I dig out my most stylish caftan – summer is a coming and I’m spending it soaking up the shimmering surrounds of this stylish Chiswick hot spot.
And – breaking news – the owners of this place have plans to make their mark in a similarly attractive venue within the Battersea Power Station development. Watch this space…