What: A new dining hall concept in Harrods featuring six individually operated bars and restaurants housed under one roof. They include a grill, a fish bar, a sushi counter, a wine bar, a pasta bar and a flashy Indian.
Who: The operation is predominately being overseen by Harrods’ executive chef Andy Cook, and a team of 150-in house chefs and servers (Harrods is said to have one of the biggest kitchen brigades in Europe). However Vineet Bhatia oversees the hall’s 26-seat Kama by Vineet restaurant; Eddie Lim, who also runs a Mango Tree and Chai Wu restaurant in the store, is operating the Sushi Bar; and premium seafood brand Caviar House & Prunier is overseeing the menu at the central wine bar.
The food: Where to begin… Harrods’ previous food offering was – rather oddly – more geared towards the takeaway market, whereas the Dining Hall is focused on sit down operations and looks likely to generate far more revenue for the business. On the left as you enter the hall is Vineet Bhatia’s restaurant, featuring ‘modernised regional Indian cuisine’ including thali platters with vegetables or meat; sharing plates that feature a dish of curry leaf-tomato lobster tail with burnt garlic-lemon potato chaa; as well as more familiar options such as butter chicken and lamb rogan josh. On the right of the room there’s The Grill, which features a menu of premium meats including Wagyu beef, rotisserie chicken and seasonal game; side dishes of truffle mac and cheese, triplecooked fries and creamed green vegetables; and a starters section that features a tuna tartare for the ages. The Pasta bar serves pasta made fresh every day, with sauces including tomato and basil and a veal cheek ragu; and The Fish Bar features a particularly memorable lobster toastie. Central to it all is The Wine Bar with a list of more than 100 bins available by glass.
The vibe: As you would expect, Harrods’ Dining Hall isn’t catering for those on a budget; most menus hover around the £20 to £30 mark for individual dishes, with sharing plates costing almost double that and the 2009 Romanee Conti coming in at £850 a glass. The Grade I-listed room is stunning, with a beautiful hand-painted tile ceiling. The space has been sympathetically refurbished (some tiles needed to be replaced) with David Collins Studio tasked with putting in the new fixtures and fittings which – quite intentionally – look like they’ve been there for years.
And another thing: The opening of the Dining Hall marks the next stage of a two-year phased renovation of the luxury Knightsbridge department store’s Food Halls. So far that has included a revamp of the wine department, followed by an overhaul of the Roastery and Bake hall and then the Fresh Market hall. Rumour has it the final hall to be unveiled will be dedicated to chocolate.