Within the heart of the uber-glamourous, reinvented Mailbox is Harvey Nichols. Within Harvey Nichols, is a restaurant like no other.
Jamie, the Hospitality Manager, showed me around the shop before taking me into the restaurant, which has beautiful high ceilings, stone-grey interiors with flecks of gold and rich oranges, wood panel floors, padded seats, crisp and straight tables laid out and the most gorgeous warm lighting.
There’s a group dining area for up to 16 people; privately tucked away, but perfectly so that you still get the atmosphere from the restaurant, but in your own sumptuous area. It has a huge dark wooden table and cabinets lighting up Champagne bottles, chrome and glass room dividers, and more of that comforting lighting. I was left in the very capable hands of the most polite waitress and I took a seat at the pass to watch the work going on in the kitchen whilst I ate.
The Food and Drink
I admit that I have never been to dinner by myself (I say by myself, I had Alan, who lives inside my phone, with me). I figured if I was going to do it, I was going to order the fanciest items on the menu and oh. My. God.
The menu changes to reflect what’s in season, and I caught the tail end of this one. I started with some tempura oysters with confit garlic purée (£10) (simple and perfect; not over-loaded with too many ingredients or flavours), and the chef was so pleased with the scallops he’d opened only 20 minutes before that he made me three with piperade and scorched baby gem lettuce. They were so fresh and sweet that they may have ruined me for all other scallops from here. At that point, I was already blown away; then my grilled lobster with Cafe De Paris sauce (£20) arrived. It was so soft and buttery it fell out of the shell.
After putting all of that away with a glass of Chenin Blanc, I went on to pudding. Crémeux of milk chocolate and smoked caramel, raspberry and almond crisp. You know when a pudding changes your life? I’ll never be the same. Not only was I thrilled that the caramel wasn’t salted, but the smoky taste with the sweet and sharp raspberry mixed with the smooth and creamy milk chocolate… Oh. My. God. The food is elegant, but not pompous. It has few ingredients and amazing taste. The textures eat perfectly.
The Drinks? The barman asked me exactly how I like my Old Fashioned and clearly put love into making it (he used Suntory Hibiki and Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky; my first Japanese-lead Old Fashioned). The endearing wine lady came over with some excellent choices and talked through them (so well, in fact, that I am going to go for ‘Wine Wednesdays’ which is a tasting session they hold weekly and basically sounds brilliant). She gave me a chocolate wine to go with my chocolate heaven that was an incredible match.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
The website nails the description of “premium casual.” It is hyper-fancy, but they don’t make you feel awkward if you’re not. I am almost certain there was a footballer at another table (something uncommon for Harvey Nicks). The venue is so flexible and so able to cater for any and all needs of its clientele, and it does that effortlessly. Nothing is too much. I was so at ease dining alone and yet I could imagine how lovely it’d be to have the 16 seater table for a group booking.
I don’t think I know enough positive adjectives to truly describe how amazing this experience was. There are many other things I would like to mention, but I simply don’t have the word count. The staff clearly care and are proud of their brand; they’re not pretentious (in fact, one of the barmen even gave me a napkin and a cup of water with advice on how to best remove the fresh stain from the food I’d dropped on my jeans).
The hospitality manager knows everything about the brand and the branch and the head chef stood with me whilst I ate at the pass and talked with passion about his locally-sourced produce and his food (I genuinely hope the weather improves so the wild garlic he needs comes through in time). In summary, I was thoroughly spoiled. It was simply magical.