FireHouse is the latest incarnation for the newly refurbished private members' club on London's Cromwell Road, a venue which in earlier guises has been known as the Cromwellian, Bratts and, most recently, the Hudson Club.
Now owned by entrepreneur Alexander Baillieu, it includes, for the first time, a restaurant open to the public. There is also the ground-floor Slidebar, which doubles as a photographic gallery, displaying pictures by Bob Carlos Clarke, and a dance floor on the lower-ground floor.
The 50-seat restaurant - known as the Dining Room - is on the first floor, enjoying views over the gardens of the adjacent Natural History Museum. Running the kitchen is head chef Daniel Crow, whose 32 years of cooking have taken in positions at Le Gavroche, the Ritz and Mosimann's, as well as several stints abroad in France and Italy.
Freedom in the kitchen
He has been in the hot seat for the past few years, but this latest opportunity to cook for the public, operating an à la carte menu, is allowing Crow more freedom in the way he cooks. When the club operated private-dining facilities, he found himself constrained to cooking for large parties of 10 to 20 diners.
What hasn't changed, though, is Crow's commitment to classical French cookery. "I'm not one for any wild combinations," he says. "Far more important is ensuring I have excellent-quality produce and cooking ingredients that work well together."
Crow uses Direct Fish, IMS for meat and poultry, and a specialist French supplier for ingredients such as truffles, foie gras and garlic sausage.
Crow intends to let his new menu be ruled by the seasons, offering a choice of five starters, six main courses and four desserts, supplemented by daily changing specials, depending on what's available at market.
Starters include goose rillette, cornichon and country bread (£6.95) and dressed crab with quails' eggs (£9.50). "My food is exactly as it sounds. I don't do anything to disguise it," he says.
Among the main courses, Cumberland sausage ring, mashed potatoes and confit of red onions (£12.95) is one of the dishes that he has introduced in reaction to requests from customers, who like a bit of British comfort food on their menu. Also selling well is grilled fillet of beef, sauce moutarde (£15.95) and roast spring chicken à la diable (£13.75). For the latter, the chicken is roasted on the bone and then the meat removed and served with a sauce based on white wine, white wine vinegar, brown stock and a touch of Worcestershire sauce and butter.
The desserts follow the classical theme of the rest of the menu, each costing £5.50 and including a chocolate truffle tart. A trio of British and Continental cheeses is also available for £6.50.
While the Dining Room is open to the public only for dinner, it is available for private functions at lunch. Average spend at dinner is £30 per head, including house wine.
FireHouse, 3 Cromwell Road, London SW7 2HA. Tel: 020 7584 7258.
An à la carte selection from the Dining Room
Warm goats' cheese salad of herbs, £6.75
Boudin blanc, port-wine sauce with truffle, £8.50
Half-a-dozen rock oysters, sherry vinegar and shallots, £7.50
Seared loin of tuna with Mediterranean vegetables, £14.50
Wild mushroom ravioli, plum tomato sauce, £11.50
Confit of salmon, Hungarian potato salad, £13.75
Traditional crème brûlée, £5.50
Panna cotta with blackberries, £5.50
Savarin of strawberries, Drambuie-scented cream, £5.50