Don’t get me wrong, I could waffle up Ikea meatballs until the cows (and pigs, inexplicably they’re made from both) come home, but that’s not quite what we’re talking about here. The department store in-house restaurant has come a long way since it was a case of grab a greasy bap between bouts and baskets of shopping. Shoppers in central London’s department stores have come to expect something a little more refined and somewhat more genteel. Which has heralded the rise of the posh shop restaurant, to the point where, spoiler alert, Selfridges now has a restaurant sporting a Damien Hirst flying statue and the Oxford Street John Lewis has a full-on rooftop garden party.
Harrod’s, the big cheese of the department store world (and a quick check in the foodhall confirms that they really do know about big cheeses), a Mecca for the world’s wealthiest individuals. And when it comes to restaurants, you can bet that they’re going to deliver. If you were hoping for something gaudy and gold, then you’ll be disappointed, Chucs were never going to go along with all that nonsense. Instead, expect wood panelled luxury, and Chucs specials exclusively created for Harrods (including a lobster and avocado chopped salad and a grilled West Country beef sirloin, served with truffle maccheroni cheese. Located on the lower ground floor, you’ll never miss sunlight less.
If you’ve ever wondered what the best use for a Damien Hirst 24ft crystal-encrusted Pegasus statue is, then wonder no longer, we’ve found it, dangling from the ceiling of Selfridge’s new eatery, Brasserie of Light. Along with the obligatory Martin Brudnizki interior, this restaurant is a delight and well worth checking out even without a spot of shopping. Which would be ironic, given its in actual Selfridge’s (though not as ironic as the bizarre fact that Selfridge’s, despite the name, doesn’t even have a white goods department).
Harvey Nichols can’t help itself from being suave and laid back. Self-described as ‘distressed warehouse chic with edgy Scandinavian style’, the interior of 109 Bar + Kitchen is self-consciously cool, and while Ab Fab’s Eddie might feel more at home in the Fifth Floor Bar (which really needs a catchier name), 109 Bar + Kitchen is the place to come for some replenishment during a busy round of big-ticket purchasing. There’s also a very respectable Burger & Lobster, but given its not home-grown, we’ll sit tight in 109, thank you very much.
Founded in 1707, Fortnum & Mason is Ground Zero when it comes to London’s finest department stores, and so little surprise to find that the same is true on the restaurant front. 45 Jermyn Street (cleverly named so that you can’t fail to remember the address), is beautiful and has food to match the interior. Designed by the ubiquitous Martin Brudnizki (the website claims it was ‘Martin Brudniz’ but we’re going out on a limb to call typo), the restaurant looks great, and with ingredients from their famous and adjacent foodhall, you can bet that the menu is excellent too. Accessed from the street, rather than the store, you don’t even need to rub shoulders with the million tourists milling round the tea counter.
Liberty’s is the Arts and Crafts inspired Regent’s Street department store famed for its prints, its wooden interiors and, in our opinion, its restaurant, Arthur’s. Named after the store’s creator, Arthur Liberty, the art deco inspired restaurant uses artisanal produce from the department store’s food hall to create the modern British menu. Presumably Martin Brudnizki was tied up designing every other London restaurant at the time, and all the better for it as Nick Leith-Smith has designed something carefully in keeping with the store’s heritage.
Don’t forget Fenwick’s. Tucked just a tiny bit too far up Bond Street (a controversial statement that sounds a little more Lady Bracknell than intended), the department store may be within a five minute walk of its larger competitors, but nevertheless packs a punch. Not least on the shop floor, but also in the restaurant department. The clean, Scandi feel of Bond Street Kitchen, a popup done good, is a great place to escape central London and enjoy modern British dishes (and wines) far from the madding crowd (two theatre references in one paragraph, you lucky thesps).
I’ll wager that Martin Brudnizki has only ever seen Shoreditch from his helicopter. And it shows. The furniture at Commune at Goodhood is distinctly underwhelming and utilitarian. But it’s only right that the cafe at Shoreditch’s answer to the department store shouldn’t be anything like Harrod’s, right? And it’s not, its
Spring time is roof time! When the sun comes out John Lewis opens up the Gardening Society rooftop café and one of the most unique rooftop venues, soaring above Oxford Street. The garden party feel is matched by the DJs, last summer there was a fried chicken popup and lots and lots of cocktails.