Nestled away behind Oxford Circus, The Fir Room (the more casual little sister to much lauded restaurant Piquet, found downstairs) is expanding our understanding of small sharing plates. Walking in off the drab street outside, we were instantly transported back in time (think Victorian hunting lodge crossed with a modern cocktail bar), into the charmingly inviting dining space.
Our extremely attentive waiter and master cocktail maker, Aaron, guided us through the menu of interesting and innovative small plates that are split up into groups such as Fish & Seafood, Meat & Poultry and Salads & Garden Vegetables. We were thoughtfully brought out a mixed Charcuterie board to nibble on whilst we pondered which combination of items would be enough, but not too much (the perennial problem). The board, adorned with Kent Ham, Coppa, a creamy Duck Rilette and a beautifully constructed terrine, was a sizable starter for two to share, and was accompanied by delicious, toasted sourdough bread, and cute little pots of pickled onions and gherkins.
Decisions made, we tucked into a couple of classic cocktails. The Burnley Fizz was a particular favourite – don’t be alarmed by the strong absinthe aroma, this cocktail has a refreshingly punchy allspice taste with a pop of cava fizz to boot! We were also recommended some incredible wines, such as the A-Z Pinot Noir from Oregon, USA, which blew us away with its rich, juicy profile.
The great thing about small plates is that you don’t have to wait too long for them to start coming out – a real selling point for the hungry after work crowd. Our first pick, a trio of oysters, was presented beautifully on a bed of ice and lemon, and provided a tantalising aphrodisiac for the plates to follow. The straightforwardly named pigs head croquette is an absolute must, served on a generous smear of sauce gribiche, it was bursting with intense flavour – a perfectly moreish sharing treat.
Following swiftly, the humble chicken salad, proving that hearty flavours need not mean ‘heavy’ or stodgy food. The combination of crisp lettuce, seasoned chicken and the nutty sweetness of the comte created a very well balanced dish. Nonetheless, despite its merits, we were left wanting somewhat, as the Chicken Salad was by far both the priciest and smallest dish of the bunch.
The indisputable favourite, however, was the Monkfish, chorizo and haricot blanc casserole with baby squid, a mouthful to say, and a welcome mouthful to savour. The beans and chorizo added a depth of flavour and smokiness that paired beautifully with the light medallions of Monkfish and beautifully crispy squid nestled on top. To finish, the Seasonal Tart, which on this occasion comprised of an almond and rhubarb slice, was pleasant, if not a little too coarse in texture and saccharin sweet given the delicateness of the courses that came before.
The Fir Room is undeniably sophisticated, and the concept of small plates is certainly catching fire all over London and beyond. We can’t think of anything more romantic than sharing oysters, wine and all manners of delicious bites with your loved one. For unbeatable service, top quality food, and modern twists on traditional favourites, we’ve not tried better.