A queue outside a restaurant is always a good sign and when we recently saw that very phenomenon outside 197 Chiswick Fire Station we knew Chiswick had been delivered a jewel. Coming from restaurant and bar group, Darwin & Wallace, the eatery’s reputation had preceded it, even in far-out leafy Chiswick. On this, the second day of opening, the creators were hosting a bash to get to know the neighbours, residents and industry players and everyone wanted in!
When I crossed the threshold myself I was immediately bowled over by the gorgeous interiors. A long bar through the centre of the restaurant, with elaborate beer taps ready to dispense Goose Island, Franziskaner and Redemption, is an instant focal point. As you walk to your left you’ll find plush crimson and blush seating in velvet, to your right, minimalistic white wood seated cubby holes. The long, wide space opens out to to reveal an L-shaped open kitchen, with a chef’s table, as well as futher seating of long wooden tables and glass doors to the back of the restaurant revealing an exterior area that will go down well with smokers.
I can’t stress enough how enthralled I was with the inside design, including the dome shaped roof window which we promptly took seats under, in front of the kitchen. The interiors reminded me of a cross between an upmarket designer boutique and a luxe hotel with the standard of service akin to what you would expect with same.
Things kicked off with a welcome glass of prosecco, and as we sipped, the restaurant continued to fill. As the night proceed there had to be over 150 people gathered, showcasing this place as definitely impressive in size, and a place to be seen.
Throughout the evening we got to try an array of tasty dishes which were all a combination of the Á La Carte and canapé menu. Things began with the open Sticky Beef Taco and good old traditional Fish’n’Chips.
Other bitesize treats included the Fennel Salami & Ricotta Crostini, Pumpkin Bites and Olive and Sun Dried Crostini while later in the evening even more variations were brought out for a spin: the Spiced Crab & Avocado Crostini, Ginger Chicken Cakes and Aubergine Croqettes.
Such was the capacity of the venue, and the quality of the food, we didn’t get to try everything that was on offer despite the wide variety available. In fact, I was so surprised at how the chef’s here managed to keep everyone appetised and keep a constant flow of finger food at the pass for waiters to bring out.
In terms of liquids – not only does No 197 have a great selection of beer and an impressive catalogue of wine, the quality of their cocktails make them the signature drink here and an absolute must-try – seriously, we can attest to this! Our highlights were the Passionfruit Capirinha (having recently visited Sao Paulo, I assure you this is a great imitator), the Rhubarb and Ginger Cobbler (the classic combo makes this truly scrumptious and very refreshing) and the Tanqueray 10 Gimlet (a very drinkable concoction of gin with No 197’s very own lime, cucumber and basil syrup!)
For those with room to spare, Fruit Salad Skewers did the rounds alongside Peanut Butter Profiteroles. As an absolute fruit addict the skewers pleased me no end , but I have to point out, as someone with an aversion to classic profiteroles I was all over this peanut butter variety – small and round, these little popcorn style bites were terribly morish, the delicate choux pastry ball melting in the mouth to reveal a creamy, smooth inner protein goodness (Thankfully! Who says dessert is all bad for you??)
And so, I literally cannot express how in love with this place I am. For me, the highlight really was the ambience, atmosphere, layout and design. Despite being the other side of London from me, I would have no qualms with returning. The effort put in to decorate this former Fire Station is only what I can imagine someone would put in to redecorating their own home, you can feel the love and you sure want to experience and enjoy it. Now… to return with the girls and show this place off!
Visit: 197 Chiswick High Rd, London W4 2DR