Dish With A Difference

We’re talking about: department stores ramping up their food

Selfridges is the latest luxury retailer to change up their restaurant offering to tap into current trends.

8 August 2019
chefsgrainsmeatpastasustainabilityrestaurants
  • The Dish: Bucatini in Pomodoro Sauce
  • The Place: The Corner Restaurant
  • The Chef: Grant Clark

What? Selfridges is joining its fellow high end department stores to shake up its restaurant offering. There’s a brand new menu launching this week at The Corner Restaurant from newly appointed head chef Grant Clark, who has previously cooked up a storm in New York at gastropub The Breslin at the Ace Hotel, where he worked with April Broomfield, and Tuscan-American restaurant Hearth in the East Village. Its Clarks first time cooking in the UK – and he has been brought in to completely overhaul The Corner Restaurant’s menu with a seasonal slant, a nose-to-tail approach to minimise food waste, with low-and-slow cooking.

Ingredients are being sourced from UK producers like bread from Coombeshead Bakery, meat from Henson and Son and sustainable fish and veg from Natoora, which also supplies into Selfridges’ Food Hall.

Small plates include roasted aubergine puree topped with crispy puffed wild rice and roasted tomatoes or fava bruschetta made with sourdough from Commbeshead, broad beans, grated pecorino and a vinaigrette of  black pepper, parsley and wild Sicilian oregano.

There’s also duck liver pate sautéed in caramelised onions with brandy and butter, dressed with a shallot and blueberry agrodulche (a traditional sweet and sour sauce in Italian cuisine).

Classic pasta dishes have been given a twist by Clark. The Bucantini in Pomodoro Sauce sees the pasta made from faro wholegrains milled in-house, which are then made into dough and rolled out by hand. The process lends itself to retaining more of the grain’s nutrients and flavours, according to Selfridges. The fresh pasta is served with a tomato sauce that is stewed down for three hours with fresh chilli, wild oregano and garlic.

The other option is macaroni with pork ragu, a pork mince and sofrito base simmered in a 16 hour broth made from chicken, beef, turkey and veal, which is topped with ricotta, fresh rosemary and 24-month aged Parmigiano reggiano.

These dishes are all on offer even before the mains, which include Clark’s signature dish, the Vinegar Creedy Chicken. This half spatchcock chicken from Creedy Carver Farm in Devon is seared and roasted with sherry vinegar and the pork ragu broth and topped with Tropea Onions and Romesco Sauce.

To finish, diners can go savoury or sweet for dessert. There will be Neal’s Yard cheese paired with prunes stewed in Madeira, walnut butter and crostini or a chocolate pudding made with chocolate pastry cream piped into small peaks interspersed with mascarpone with whipped cream and topped with toasted hazelnuts and cocoa nibs.

Or they can dip into the Chef’s Cookie Board with freshly baked biscotti, shortbread, jam ‘thumbprints’ and oatmeal and molasses cookies.

Where? The Corner Restaurant is on the second floor of Selfridges’ Oxford Street store having first opened in 2013. The 56-seat site is located at the corner of Oxford Street and Orchard Street – hence its name – with the entrance situated just off the Women’s Designer Galleries.

“My philosophy around food lies in cooking simply and with integrity,” Clark said. “The menu is uncomplicated but champions great quality, seasonal produce and above all, flavour. Bringing processes such as milling the grains used for pasta in-house, ensures the foundations of each dish are full of flavour, whilst also allowing us to take joy in the art of these practices.”

Selfridges director of food and restaurants David Lagrand added that Clark’s dishes hero seasonality and sustainability and the menu is sure to excite customers and followers of London’s food scene.

 

Why? It’s all about creating a destination for experiences – rather than just spaces for people to shop. In particular, the younger generation is looking for experience over goods. A Squarespace survey of UK millennials found 53% would rather spend money on an experience versus a possession.

It was something identified by former Starbucks chairman Howard Shultz a few years ago, who said any retailer who is “going to win in this new environment must become an experiential destination. Your product and services, for the most part, cannot be available online and cannot be available on Amazon.”

Selfridges follows in the footsteps of Harrods and Harvey Nichols. In particular, Harrods is investing in two-year redevelopment and restoration of the department store’s food hall, with its sit down dining the latest to get a makeover.

Like The Corner Restaurant, seasonal dishes made in-house were a key focus for Harrods which launched a dedicated sushi bar where diners can opt for the chef to pick their menu, its first Indian restaurant and areas dedicated to pasta, fish and grill.

At the end of last year, Harvey Nichols’ restaurant 109 Bar + Kitchen dipped into the American trend with a menu of high-end hot dogs, like the Killer Dog, a turkey sausage topped with roasted mix peppers, harissa, wild rocket and yogurt.

With The Corner Restaurant, Selfridges has looked at trends permeating the UK restaurant scene right now – with a focus on seasonality, local producers to hammer home the sustainability aspect and an emphasis on minimising food waste. It’s use of on trend ingredients like grains that are milled in-house, as well as elevating pasta dishes also add to its appeal.

As the retail sector in general struggles, the focus on food is also a good way to attract more people into stores – for those looking for a full shopping experience – which includes a place to stop off for some good food. But, also as Selfridges’ food director implied, to entice foodies into these restaurants perhaps prompting them to splurge a little in-store after a meal.

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