No. 197 Chiswick Fire Station is rumoured to have a stylish all day brunch menu up its sleeve; needless to say, I ventured down West to see if the dining whispers were true.
Not knowing what to expect, my jaw literally hit the floor upon entering No. 197 Chiswick Fire Station. Its interior is like something plucked straight out of a John Lewis catalogue. It’s extremely spacious and stretches all the way back to a sunny alfresco area. This chic outdoor space features exposed brick work, mini marble tables, cushioned seating and a high island-like table perfectly suited to larger groups. Although this is a super duper spot for warmer weather drinking and dining, we chose to be seated indoors, which is just as if not more dreamy.
Inside, high ceilings support dangling lights and the entire venue is wrapped in a neutral colour scheme with white as the main focus. If you, like me, love seeing mixologists at work, the venue’s bar is plonked in the middle of the room and with a collection of luxurious purple high chairs dotted around its circular shape, you’re guaranteed an eagle eye view of all their cocktail shakin’ and makin’. The kitchen of No. 197 is also open plan so you can see the chefs work their culinary magic; you just need to plonk yourselves towards the back end of the restaurant. Elsewhere, tan coloured button back seats, stripped back wooden chairs, plush couches, and velvet armchairs call from every corner in a bid for your attention. Although the venue can come across as a bit of a blank canvas, large green cactuses potted in huge vases and wall hangings adorning the walls add a homely stroke to the place.
There’s nothing I love more than digging my knife and fork into a hearty brunch come the weekend, and with many clear winners on No 197’s brunch menu, we couldn’t help but order three of their dishes to share between the two of us. If you’re gonna do brunch folks, you gotta do it right.
First up, the Breakfast Sourdough Bruschetta £8.95. The bread, came out perfectly toasted and was topped with juicy roasted tomatoes, spinach, avocado, meaty dry cured bacon and breakfast mayo. All though I would have liked to see a bit more avocado on my plate, all of the ingredients (especially the roast tomatoes) worked together to bring out a great amount of flavour. My company dived into a single portion of the No. 197 Eggs Benedict £8.50 that comprised of honey roast ham, avocado and spinach on sourdough with homemade hollandaise. I’m not usually a fan of hollandaise, but I must admit - their homemade sauce tasted pretty darn good. The third and final dish was of course, a portion of Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes £7.50. Each pancake was stacked perfectly on top of the other, and cutting into the just-golden tower you could see a scattering of fresh blueberries throughout each fluffy cake. Topped with maple creme fresh and drizzled in syrup, they were a great third option to satisfy my sweet/savoury tooth.
In my books, brunch isn’t brunch without a bit of booze. Who's with me? We washed all these wonderful dishes down with a couple of Scotch Old Fashioneds (Johnny Walker, orange peel, maple syrup) and my summer favourite Aperol Spritz (Aperol, Ca’di Prosseco, fresh pink grapefruit). The Old Fashioned was smooth to drink with a sweet kick while the Aperol Spritz was served in a massive glass with a large juicy slice of grapefruit. These two delicious drinks proved that sometimes it's best to stick with the simple, classic concoctions.
The Clientele and Atmosphere
Being here on a brunch review, my comrade and I arrived at No. 197 at a very reasonable 12pm. Seated inside away from the rays due to my pale Irish skin (and partly because I forgot to lash on my factor 50), we clocked that the place was relatively quiet. But a constant trickle of people entering the venue meant a lively atmosphere and busy tables come 1.30pm. Although the venue became increasingly busy, the service didn’t falter at all; which is a dream come true when it comes to dining in London. Craning my neck around the venue it became clear that this Chiswick hangout caters for a somewhat sophisticated crowd. Families, young professionals and groups of friends gathered around tables for a relaxing Saturday of top-notch food and quality catch up time.
I’m a very fortunate lass to have been to so many fantastic London restaurants and bars.; but No. 197 Chiswick Fire Station has managed to wiggle its way towards the top of my pile with its freshly prepared dishes, laid-back atmosphere and stylish surroundings. Take a word of advice and book yourself in here asap, Why? Because the brunch rumours are true.