What: An eclectic open fire restaurant and natural wine bar on Poland Street in London's Soho, which takes its cues from a broad spectrum of Mediterranean cuisine and features a focus on pickling, fermenting and curing, as well as cooking over both charcoal and wood.
Who: Restaurateurs Madina Kazhimova and Anna Dolgushina, who previously operated a pair of successful restaurants in their home city of St Petersburg, both of which had an Asian food focus. The two relocated to London in 2020 with plans to open a restaurant in the capital, and Firebird is the result. With a focus on European-centric cuisine, the restaurant in some ways reflects a marked departure for Kazhimova and Dolgushina, but similarly to their two previous projects, Firebird puts its drinks offering front and centre, with an emphasis on dynamic wines from small producers across the continent and draft cocktails (see 'The drink'). In the kitchen, the pair have brought in Nikos Kontongiannatos, former head chef of Caravan, to oversee the menu.
The food: Kontongiannatos's seasonal menu features an wide-range of somewhat flamboyant wood-fired dishes that draw inspiration from the 'laid back, simple approach' to Mediterranean cooking. Despite focusing on sharing plates, the menu is split conventionally between snacks, starters, mains and desserts. Flavours from across Europe's Mediterranean coast feature with notes of French, Spanish, Italian, Greek and Portuguese cuisine all distinguishable. Snacks and starter options at launch include Bloody Mary corn ribs; choux buns with chicken liver pâté and hazelnuts; oysters with fermented cucumber and Greek yoghurt; peaches with ricotta, hazelnut and proscuitto; chicken skewer with piqiulo pepper and almond yoghurt; and tiger prawns in a white wine and butter sauce. Larger plates focus on meats and fish cooked over fire, with glazed pork belly served with potato salad and plum ketchup; monkfish with sauce vierge and vignarola stew; scallops with mashed potato and truffle; and lamb leg steak with tzatziki sauce and grilled pita. A short selection of specials and desserts also feature. Prices are certainly at the more premium end of the scale, with starters pitched at around the £15 mark, and mains stretching to between £20 and £40.
The drink: Curated by Dolgushina, Firebird’s wine list champions small, natural and biodynamic producers from across Europe, with a focus on those 'with interesting stories to tell'. A ‘Pyramide Purus’ riesling from Rita and Rudolf Trossen, two of the first biodynamic winemakers from Mosel, Germany, sits alongside the ‘TRBLMKR’ from Milan Nestarec, Czech Republic. In addition to wines, a carefully crafted cocktail menu inspired by the heat and smoke of the restaurant’s grill includes a toasted sesame sour; charred pineapple daiquiri; and a smoky mezcal negroni.
The vibe: Taking over the former Corazón site, Firebird's interiors combine terracotta flooring, exposed brick walls and cascading plants to create a warm and intimate setting that's complemented by low lighting. The dining room holds a total of 46 covers, and includes both a long bar and chef's counter.
And another thing: The name Firebird is a reference to Slavic mythology and folklore, and represents a treasure that is rare and difficult to possess.
29 Poland St, London W1F 8QR