Harrods is famous for, among other things, its food, with the likes of caviar, artisanal cheese and chocolate part of the decadent and expansive retail range. As part of a mammoth two-year redevelopment and restoration of the department store’s food halls, the British institution is in the process of updating its overall edible offering – and there’s heavy emphasis on sit-down dining with the latest unveiling.
Following on from the opening of the Roastery & Bake Hall at the end of 2017 and the Fresh Market Hall a year later, Harrods’ brand-new Dining Hall got going at the end of last month, replacing the former, counter-orientated Meat & Fish Hall with five sit-down restaurant options and a bar.
“Each menu offers a modern, seasonal and relevant take on traditional dishes as well as new and bespoke house cocktails, all made in-house with the finest ingredients in the world,” said Andy Cook, executive chef at Harrods, of the launch.
Here, we take the hall apart to highlight three of the most interesting trends found in the major reshuffle.
The Dining Hall now has a dedicated sushi bar, which specialises in nigiri and sashimi. Found among the 37 dishes (one of the largest menus in the Dining Hall) are items like tamago (a Japanese omelette), as well as blue lobster and snow crab. Arguably the most notable option, however, is the omakase, which allows the sushi chef to choose your order for you.
Omakase is a Japanese concept meaning ‘I'll leave it up to you.’ The bespoke menu is arranged every morning by the chefs and served as an eight-, 10- or 12-piece selection of nigiri and maki. There is also a dedicated sashimi platter of 15 pieces.
Omakase menus are found at the highest level of sushi preparation, with London’s critically acclaimed Sushi Testu and The Araki also using the theatrical option to showcase their chefs’ abilities and quality ingredients. It means an ever-changing menu that keeps the experience eternally fresh.
Harrods’ first Indian
Along with individual areas dedicated to pasta, fish, wine and grill (a meat-focused affair with a Josper grill taking centre stage), a 26-seater Indian restaurant named Kama By Vineet has arrived on the scene – the first Indian restaurant in the 180-year history of Harrods.
Run by Vineet Bhatia, the world’s first Michelin-starred Indian chef, Kama’s food is described as coming from “the essence of his childhood with the nostalgia of home cooked Indian food.”
Bhatia was born in Mumbai, which is often described as a melting pot of multiple Indian cuisines, with the menu at Kama reflecting just that.
Modernised dishes from all over India are found here across a multitude of sharing plates. Curry leaf and tomato half lobster, pistachio lamb chops and char-grilled mustard prawns are all on offer, while two impressive thali platters (one meat and one veggie) are both made up of 12 different constituents.
Interestingly, just two main courses inhabit the menu – and both are biryanis: lobster chettinad (a take on a southern Indian dish) and a parda lamb and goji berry (encased in a thin layer of filo).
Both are non-veggie options, quite a surprising theme throughout the Dining Hall and the third of the most notable trends found here. Or, indeed, not found.
The Dining Hall has no dedicated veggie/vegan dining section, which is perhaps one of the most interesting things to take away.
Considering the ever-growing plant-based snowball in the UK – and the practically endless parade of new openings looking to take advantage of the trend – it is notable that Harrods hasn’t included it in The Dining Hall, though admittedly it is well catered for in the Fresh Market Hall, where a vegetarian butcher holds sway.
An argument could be made then that this is a sign that veganism is still not seen as a mainstay of fine dining.
Perhaps meat reducers/avoiders will find more of a home in the final section of Harrods’ food revamp, which is rumoured to be a hall dedicated to chocolate and is still in development.