Today sees the high-end store Harvey Nichols open its doors again in Birmingham’s Mailbox after a long-awaited make over. In addition to the new store, the cafe has been replaced by a plush bar, restaurant and food market area.
I went along on Wednesday before it opened with a select few others to get a sample of whats on offer, and we were absolutely spoilt.
We entered the store via the Level 3 entrance and proceeded down a winding gold spiral staircase which led into a large open plan space. The plush bar area is separated from the restaurant by what can only be described as a ‘wall of wine’ and has a relaxed elegant feel to it.
There is a small but perfectly formed food market adjacent to both, stocking luxury high-end foodie gifts from chocolate to biltong! Listening to the passionate staff speak it was clear that the emphasis is on quality products. They cater for everyone, and I was really impressed with the ‘free from’ chocolate truffles that despite containing no dairy and made from only 4 ingredients were divine. We were lucky enough to have a wander around try a fair few bits and pieces – it’s certainly the place to come if you’re looking for a quality foodie gift that’s a little bit different to the high street.
We then moved on to see their wine tasting area. The shelves are stocked full of amazing producers and wine makers including the wine made exclusively for the Harvey Nichols range of which we sample an English Sparkling Wine and later a New Zealand Pinot Noir with dinner, both of which were divine. They have a wine expert working with them to run tastings and just to give advice and they are actively encouraging people to come down with friends and spend time learning about their wines.
Moving on to the most exciting part of the evening for me – the food. We were thrilled to have Glynn Purnell explain the menu concept and dishes to us and sit down and have a chat too. Glynn has been consulting for Harvey Nichols on the new menu and overseeing its introduction, but just to be clear to people, it isn’t his restaurant.
The concept is sharing plates, designed to be eaten at any time of the day, as much or as little as you want whether that be a feast with friends or a quick small plate to yourself whilst shopping. We tried a variety of dishes of the menu including:
- Roasted Scallops, Piperade, Scorched Baby Gem
- Scorched Provencal Squid, Oxsprings Ham, Olive Tapenade, Sundreid Tomato, Red Pepper
- Spiced SMoked Haddock, Sour Creme Fraiche Potato, Poached Egg Yolk
- Hampshire Pork Belly cooked in Chinese Spices, Grilled Pak Choi, sesame Seed Glaze & Egg Noodles
- Himalayan Pink Sea Salt Seared Fillet Steak, Fries
- Thai Green Salad, Avocado, Sugar Snap Peas, Chilli
- Chocolate Mousse, Mango Sorbet, chocolate Crumble
I also love the sound of Bradford-on-Avon Chicken, Ras-el-Hanout, Pomegranate Cous Cous and the Tom Yum Soup, Marinated Sashimi Yellow Fin Tuna so these will be first on my list to try when I go back.
The also have brunch items on the menu, and serve an Afternoon Tea.
Flagging a little from all the food we retreated to the bar again for a cocktail from the really interesting and diverse list. We tried a Coupe Sorbet -Harvey Nichols Champagne, Aperol, Ferdinand’s ‘Bitters Sweet Symphony’ red vineyard peach and hops, floral jasmine syrup and raspberry sorbet and a non alcoholic Calthorpe Fizz – Raspberry juice, jasmine extract, lemon, fresh redcurrants.
We had a really fantastic evening and it was a privilege to be able to talk to the general manager, food & drink director and all their enthusiastic staff and discover all the new Harvey Nichols has to offer.
Disclosure: We were invited down to Harvey Nichols by their management team and the things we sampled were free of charge.