“TO THE 5TH FLOOR, SWEETIE DARLING…



“The stunning new Fifth Floor Champagne Bar is inspired by Emile Gallé’s iconic 1902 anemone design for the Cuvée Belle Époque Champagne bottle”. That’s what Harvey Nichols (London) website states.

Emile Gallé was the French artist who is nowadays mostly associated with precious and highly valuable glass vases and lamps of the turn of the century, and is considered one of the leading artists of the Art Nouveau movement.

If he knew he was associated with the garish, gaudy, cheap, chintzy, glittery, kitschy decor of the bar, he would probably be turning into his grave (made of cherrywood with vine-like tendril patterns I imagine and possibly lined with a purple, stamped velvet with iridiscent voluptuous plant patterns. Nothing more).

Harvey Nichols (London) Bar on the 5th floor

Harvey Nichols (London) Bar on the 5th floor

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque champagne

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque champagne

Galle Pear Souffle vase, 1890

Galle Pear Souffle vase, 1890

Emile Galle floral vase, 1910

Emile Galle floral vase, 1910

By Galle

By Galle

Tassel House (Brussels) by Horta, c.1893

The acme of Art Nouveau decoration: Tassel House (Brussels) by Horta, c.1893

I don’t think I had been to the top floor bar since circa 1997 when ‘Harvey Nichs’ was a hip and fashionable place to be and be seen for the Ab Fab generation. And this 15-odd-year hiatus was our punishment. To add insult to injury, not only the interior was ghaslty but the service had ‘attitude’ (with terrrible tattoo. On.her.neck) and was inefficient (they sulked and ignored us for a good ten minutes after we turned down a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that wasn’t to our taste. Only human). So not a great start.

But things started to look up when we were finally ushered to the restaurant. To go to our table – the big, round one at the back (there were seven of us)- we had to walk through the whole room.

The first thing that catches your eye is of course the impressive domed,chequered-patterned, faux-skylight ceiling, itself reminiscent of the  magnificient domed, glass ceiling in the Great Court of the British Museum, which gives charisma and aplomb to the room.

Great Court of the British Museum

Great Court of the British Museum

I found the interior tasteful and quite pretty. Not only is the menu seasonal but also the room. The green leaf-lettered “Season panel at the entrance is charming and in fact, I really liked the palette of taupe (some of you UK desecrators might have shuddered at the sound of the now soiled word) and pink of the room: an ethereal yet earthy, sylvan, ‘in bloom’ theme for Spring/Summer 2013 with rows of slim birch trees topped with pink magnolia blossoms and some accent of moss to inject colour. A huge, bursting flower arrangement fanning out of an imposing earthen vase adorns the middle of the room. I was particularly fond of the nod to the past thanks to the iconic and timeless Van der Rohe’s Brno (M50) tubular chairs upholstered with a smooth, taupe calfskin leather. Très chic.

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As for the the food, the array of dishes from the Season menu was quite appealing . They have ‘openers’ instead of starters (potato, potahdo) and a choice of only one ‘Vegetarian’, ‘Meat’ or ‘Fish’ dish.  I must say I found it quite liberating not to have too many options and to decide instead which ‘category’ of food I wanted to eat. I chose the Meat option which was steak tartare (neigh-sayers abstained) which was innovative in its preparation but still very tasty: instead of mince beef, they had small morsels of raw fillet accompanied with the ubiquitous cornichons and capers, and they also added tiny croutons. But no traditional egg yolk, which I missed. To follow, I had a delicious lemon sole which came with a lemon rind and capers beurre noisette, and wilted spinach. Nothing adventurous there but still very well executed. We resisted ordering sweets but dark chocolate truffles (not as good as mine, my sister-in-law told me. Result!) came complimentary with tea and coffee.

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So for a £25 per head meal with 2 dishes (beverages and VAT not included) in elegant surroundings, I take my hat off to Harvey Nichs. It was worth the 15-year-long wait.

…CHEERS, MATE, CHEERS”

 

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