Breakfast, lunch and dinner at Harvey Nicks

There’s something wonderfully old-fashioned and fun about eating in big department stores. It suggests days of unashamed indulgence – you’re so busy shopping you can’t even leave the building to eat.  There’s also the indescribable joy that is shopping after a couple of drinks – something I’m sure we’ve all enjoyed at the time, then regretted when, wooly-headed we survey our frankly bizarre sartorial choices the next day.

Harvey Nichols is indisputably the place for these all-too-rare days of girly luxury, and I visited two of their newest openings recently that are guaranteed to keep you in-store for as long as they’ll let you…

The Absolute Taste cafe on the 5th floor is the latest venture from the tip top catering firm of the same name. I used to do a bit of freelance work for them in my cheffing days, and I was pleased to see they’ve lost none of their finesse, or attention to detail. The cafe is elegantly decked out in their signature navy and silver, with a huge marble bar with the kitchen behind it, so you can watch the chefs at work.

We were there for breakfast just as the store was opening – perfect if you’re looking to beat the crowd. They serve a range of hot breakfasts (I had poached eggs with sauteed mushrooms – wonderful), and also homemade muffins, pastries and if you’re feeling virtuous, fresh fruit salads. For lunch there are salads, homemade seasonal pizzas and detox rice rolls, many of which can be enjoyed in the glamorous Daniel Hersheson salon, if you’re having a day of pampering. They also have a full alcohol licence, so you can merrily kick the day off with a glass of fizz. The service was fast and friendly and I left mourning the fact I had to go back to the office, but comforted by the enormous muffin in my pocket…

If, on the other hand, you find yourself in Harvey Nicks at cocktail hour, then head to the Tanqueray Ten Terrace, also on the 5th floor and only open until the end of July. The intimate outside terrace has been transformed by Tanqueray Ten into a haven for the martini. In the evening, soft lighting, greenery,  smart tables and snuggly blankets welcome you, and a savvy barman mixes your cocktails tableside from a trolley groaning with Art Deco bottles. All made with the delectable Tanqueray Ten gin, they also do an ‘Evolution of the Martini’ flight, featuring 3 mini martinis, made to authentic recipes from different years, so you can chronicle the progress of the iconic drink. Naturally I went for this, and it was quite a revelation.

If you’re feeling peckish, the 5th Floor chef has created a select menu of dishes to complement the botanical notes in the gin. We went for the mini venison burgers, steamed asparagus with sauce vierge and sauteed tiger prawns with citrus and ras el hanout. All were delicious, and worked excellently with the cocktails.

If you’re celebrating a special occasion, then it’s worth booking the private booth – six guests can enjoy a martini master class, three course meal and a martini kit to take away. Priced at £500 it’s not exactly  a steal, but if you’re going to be decadent, then you may as well do it properly…after all, it really is only a couple of weeks til payday…


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