The Old Fire Station Hammersmith Takes You Back Into Time

Pub goes gastro with new owners

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A few months ago, The Old Fire Station with its smoke-filled front-of-house, pool tables and male-dominated drinkers has changed hands and has become a great gastro-pub with locally sourcedfood, a new decor, a new buzzy young and trendy crowd of locals and office workers.

Retaining the Victorian architecture the front-of-house now has a Dickensian charm.

Taken over by independent owners Antic, who are not breweries but run other independent pubs in London, the new manager Matt spend two weeks revitalising the old pub with Swedish chef Erik and the team of cheerful bar and table staff.

The pool table has gone, the courtyard at the back of the pub, the old playing ground of the firemen has become a diner and the watch tower right at the back an open-to-sky drinking and dining area is a feature on its own.

With all the local interest in the Blitz, it was like walking into a different era for dinner, one is aware that Hammersmith King's Street was the second location where World War II bombs fell after east London was bombed during the Blitz. Few key local historic buildings - St Paul's and St Peter's Church; the Shepherd's Bush Road library and the fire station survived.

The fire station was decommissioned after the war and has changed hands a few times so it was with trepidation we booked our table as we were not sure what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised both by the food and the atmosphere.

Our cheerful waitress Magda suggested the cold meat platter - a wonderful array of bread and olives with Spanish chorizo and delicious salami. A wide variety of wines to choose from - both new world and traditional European wines - we decided to go for a red, choosing a light Rioja which was delicious with our starters.

Despite the choice of red wine, I was intrigued by the fish cake which did not disappoint - it was a light salmon well battered with a peppery rocket salad on the side. My guest chose the steak medium-rare with all the trimming which was delicate and delicious.

We were trying to figure out whether to end with a cheese platter or dessert. The Eaton Mess looked too good to resist as it went past to another table so  we decided to be wise choosing one desert with two spoons. The Eaton Mess was just right not too sweet lots of soft whipped cream, crunchy meringue and raspberry jam. A perfect way to enjoy the atmosphere as we heard the bell go for last orders at the bar.

The buzz of happy diners and our imagination suitable taken back to the past, the fire pole where the firemen scooted down from their rooms above the pub is still a central feature, the courtyard where we were sat part of the extension to the old front-of house where the fire engines parked and where we were seated we could see the old tower standing tall and proud.

As we prepared to leave, we were not surprised to hear from Matt the manager, that the pub is booked out by local offices - Coca Cola, Disney and L'Oreal for parties in the evening and in the day time several community groups meet in the courtyard where the tower is located as it fairly sheltered from the bar and is a relatively large and quiet retreat. It's advisable to book early - and it's worth knowing last food orders end at nine o'clock. We would recommend it for a cosy evening at a local that has captured history and woven it so well into modern times.

Sumi Sastri

September 27, 2010