Just a tip: don’t wear white if you’re heading for the Fifth Floor Restaurant at Harvey Nichols. With white walls, chairs, and tablecloths, the waiters will never be able to find you as you blend seamlessly into the pale backdrop. We had dressed wisely in shades other than white, and were thankfully spotted by the waiting staff who were, for the entirety of our meal, charming.
The other thing about this restaurant is that you feel a little bit as though you’ve walked onto the set of an Austin Powers movie. Granted there are no swirling carpets, and not a flare in sight, but the illuminated ceiling adds such a shagadelic glow to the pod-like surroundings, that you probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid if Austin Powers did walk in.
We surveyed the wine list, and then gave up deciding when the waiter mentioned that there were 700 wines to choose from. In moments such as these, when the wine list exceeds the number of women that Austin Powers has probably slept with, it’s always a good idea to get the sommelier involved. We relayed our chosen starters and main courses to him and he offered up a bottle of Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc, which had a dry, mineral tang and made us glad we hadn’t tried to pick a winning bottle ourselves.
As far as the other diners go, they’re, well – a mixed bag. No Austin’s that night, but interesting people-watching nonetheless. As far as the food goes, it was outstanding with our starters setting things off well. The smoked scallops were a deliciously savoury bite, and the Joselito ham salad was balanced with sweet mouthfuls of poached and caramelised pear.
Our main dishes hit the mark too and although they looked like modest portions, they were just enough as part of a three course meal. The lemon sole came topped with baby rings of squid, and tasted buttery and moreishly crispy around its edges. The black bream meanwhile, was brilliantly cooked and came flavoured with chilli, lemongrass and ginger.
Our desserts were the highlight, and we congratulated ourselves on still having a slot of room left to devour them. Cherry clafoutis was placed down on the table in the form of high end comfort food, with a gorgeous scoop of cherry beer ice cream. The Manjari chocolate fondant prompted a considerable number of satisfied sounds from my friend, who savoured every spoonful of the weird, but wonderful chocolate and thyme ice cream, and scraped the plate clean of its very adult 64% cocoa content. If it’s possible for chocolate to go straight into the bloodstream, this fondant is a pretty good way to attempt it.
The price tag at Harvey Nichols’ Fifth Floor Restaurant is an expensive one, but you very much get what you pay for here – great service, wonderful food, bizarre people-watching and the strangest feeling that if Austin Powers walked in at any moment, it would seem perfectly normal.
A meal for two with wine will set you back by around £120.