Harrods’ revamped Dining Hall is a welcome pitstop amid the hurly-burly
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
The must-have accessory on the ground floor of Harrods this season may not be the Gucci “Dionysus” shoulder bag, nor the Prada cat-eye sunglasses, nor even the Dolce & Gabbana rose pendant necklace.
Enter the store from Hans Crescent, stroll through the cosmetics and luxury accessories rooms – a whiff from the Perfumery Hall will put you on the right scent – and, instead of heading to the fine jewellery rooms, turn left into the newly revamped Harrods Dining Hall. Then take a pew at The Fish Bar, sample a few Lindisfarne oysters, sharply dressed with ponzu and coriander cress, and order the lobster cheese toastie. It will, I fear, not last as long as a new handbag: between its bronzed crusts are fat slices of lobster and warm, oozing cheese, the sandwich minimally accessorised with fresh-pickled cucumber. It is irresistibly edible bling.
The new Dining Hall – housed in the flamboyantly tiled old Meat and Fish Hall – boasts half a dozen new restaurants, including Kama by Vineet, a terrific joint from top Indian chef Vineet Bhatia, where lobster is also on the menu, either in a Chettinad-style biryani or with tomato and curry leaf, potato chaat and a wedge of burnt lemon alongside. Sea bass cooked in banana leaf is masterfully spiced, served with a coconut chutney; richly flavoured, pistachio-flecked lamb chops arrive on a golden dollop of saffron mash, bejewelled with pomegranate seeds.
The Pasta Bar, meanwhile, will serve you a pecorino and balsamico-laced focaccia that crackles with crustiness: a perfect foil for San Marzano tomatoes and fresh burrata from London cheesemaker La Latteria. And there’s house-made pasta: spaghetti with sun-soaked pomodorini, basil and Parmigiano Reggiano.
The Grill, meanwhile, employs its Josper grill to fine effect on beef from all over the world – Wagyu from Australia, Chile and Japan, for instance – while those of the surf-and-turf persuasion can even order a side of lobster tail. And The Wine Bar amply demonstrates the skills of Harrods’ buying team: try its own-label chardonnay, from Margaret River, or (with the beef) the Barossa Valley shiraz.
Caviar House and Prunier are responsible for the menu at The Wine Bar, which – as well as a stellar selection of caviar – includes Cinco Jotas’s peerless patanegra and various kinds of Balik smoked salmon. Oh, and there’s more lobster, either with caviar or in a salad with avocado and mango.
For the 12 million people who visit the ground floor of Harrods every year, the new Dining Hall promises to be a much-welcomed pitstop amid the hurly-burly of retail therapy; the poor old lobster, by contrast, may not view the future with quite so much enthusiasm.
Harrods Dining Hall, 87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1 (harrods.com): The Fish Bar, 020-7893 8624. The Grill, 020-7893 8623. Kama by Vineet, 020-7893 8615. The Pasta Bar, 020-7893 8616. The Wine Bar, 020-7893 8613.