Drink & Dine

Review: Fire Station Waterloo

The new Fire Station is just like the old Fire Station except much much better. I didn’t care for the old fairly boring pub, but this new incarnation is pretty brilliant. The décor has been scaled back to a classier finish and utilises some elements of the original working fire station (including a coat rack made out of sprinkler valves and piping and a light fixture spouting from fire hoses) and the kitchen is open plan with two pizza ovens literally on fire. Food is decent (more on that later) but the bar is where this place shines with some absolutely delicious smoked cocktails, particularly the cinnamon smoked old fashioned.

I dined as a guest of the restaurant.

Fire Station Waterloo

What you need to know:

  • Food is largely thin crust pizza and burgers
  • Cocktails are reasonably priced (for London) at £8-9 and are largely impressive in presentation and flavour
  • The place is busy – located next to Waterloo station it seems to be the go-to spot for a post-work/pre-train drink
  • You can also get your morning caffeine fix here – Caravan coffee is on offer for that pick-me-up on the way to work
  • There is a small outdoor area in the front, but keep in mind you are on a very busy street

Food: ★★★☆☆ Service: ★★★ Atmosphere: ★★★ Value: ★★★☆☆ Overall: ★★★☆☆
Meeting friends?

This place is pretty much designed for groups and with a solid drink offering you don’t need to go anywhere else. In fact, the Fire Station is probably where you want to gather your group before heading off for show.

That being said, if you do need a place to hole up before hand, Cubana has some good drinks around the corner or the Cabin inside Waterloo station does a fairly good Old Fashioned too.

What to eat?

The menu is built around two core areas: pizzas and burgers. There are 6 of each with the pizzas being the better end of the menu. The range of pizzas are built on a very thin crispy crust which means that while they may look large in terms of surface area, you’ll need a whole one to fill you up. The toppings are damn delicious though and the tomato base is potent, pungent, and pretty great all around.

Fire Station Waterloo

Out of all the pizzas, my favourite was the parma ham, chorizo, beef ragu, and salami (what can I say, I’m a carnivore). The toppings were fresh and full of meaty flavour but there was little oily richness that often leaves you feeling like you need a shower after you finish. I also liked the chilli chicken with goats cheese and sweet peppers although I wouldn’t’ consider it spicy by any means. To be honest, the smoked mackerel one didn’t work for me but most of the table quite enjoyed it so it may be worth a punt if you like your fish.

Fire Station Waterloo

We then moved on to burgers. Now, as you know, I absolutely love a good burger and on reading the menu I had great expectations. These, sadly, were not met. To be fair, it was a perfectly adequate burger and something I’d accept in a generic pub, but for £9-11 they are priced to compete with the likes of Patty & Bun, Tommi’s, Bleecker St, Big Fernand and Dip’n’Flip to name a few. And if you’re going to base your menu around burgers as one of the two pillars, you need to wow the diner.

Fire Station Waterloo

In general, the toppings were pretty decent (other than the short rib which was mostly lost in the shuffle) but the burgers were let down by the uninteresting bun and the overcooked patty. Buns are often overlooked (and I reckon they were here) as just things to hold a burger together but they can enhance the experience with flavour as well as holding in the juices. But it didn’t have any absorbing role here as the meat was far too dry to let any remaining juices run free.

I think if this place could let some life back in the meat (medium to medium rare is the way to go!) and sort out a decent bun (can’t go wrong with a demi-brioche in my book), the burgers could be a winner. The line up looks pretty awesome on paper, it’s the delivered product that fails to live up to its potential.

How about a drink?

I’d love one thanks, particularly if it’s that cinnamon-smoked old fashioned. The cinnamon flavour is very light and the sweetness of the Bulleit bourbon and the smokiness (infused via a smoke gun) are nicely balanced. Served with a ball of ice to keep it cool yet undiluted and a dehydrated orange slice, it’s a drink I’d happily keep knocking back all night. The rest of the range of smoked cocktails (and indeed the entire cocktail list) went down a treat with our group of merry bloggers so you really can’t go wrong.

Fire Station WaterlooFire Station Waterloo

The beer selection is also well above average with a great mix of standard favourites and craft beers. It’s worth asking your server or bartender what’s on tap as it seems the actual selection might be bigger than the menu lets on.

Worth the dosh?

While I didn’t pay for anything, I think it overall is good in terms of value, especially for the area. The drinks are definitely for the £9 price tag and the pizzas were overall quite good. It’s the burgers that I feel are overpriced.

Find the Fire Station here

150 Waterloo Road, Waterloo, London SE1 8SB
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