The friendly rivalry between two of London’s most prominent department stores, Selfridges and Harrods, has led to the two constantly coming up with new ideas and one-of-a-kind experiences to woo customers.
Harrods’ super brand floors give you the one-stop solution to all the latest fashion, while Selfridges loves to strategically put what’s up-and-coming alongside established labels for customers to embark on a journey of discovery.
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It’s almost impossible to decide which is better than the other – and that seems to be the case for their food offerings, too.
While Selfridges’ food hall might look underwhelming compared to the one in Harrods at the moment, it has big ambitions to expand its food and dining offerings under the leadership of new owners Central Group and Signa, which are expected to officially take over in June.
Stefano Della Valle, chief executive officer of Central Group Europe, admitted in an earlier interview with WWD that the food area of Selfridges “is not in line with the other categories and can be improved through our expertise in the food market.”
“We can take it to the next level,” he told WWD. “People now are more inclined to buy high-quality food [in a department store] compared with the past. Restaurants are always a catalyst, and it’s always better to allow access independently of the opening hours of the stores.”
The Oxford Street-located Selfridges has 20 dining and culinary concepts throughout different floors. There is the gastronomy flagship Brasserie of Light. The crystal-studded Pegasus by Damien Hirst inside the restaurant has become synonymous with Selfridges itself since opening in 2018.
The roof terrace restaurant Alto by San Carlo is always packed whenever the sun comes out and has been a preferred spot for brands to host lavish dinners for quite a while. Adesse by chef Matthew Kenney, the latest culinary addition to the retailer, offers a trendy plant-based menu, using ingredients sourced locally.
These places – along with French bistro Aubaine located next to the women’s footwear department, the Fount Bar, which is surrounded by accessory brands, and Deco-inspired café Dolly’s on the lower ground floor – are some of the most popular dining choices for those who come to Selfridges for a great experience.
For those working nearby or wanting to go beyond their comfort zone, there are other places inside Selfridges worth a try. First, check out the renovated food quarter on the fourth floor. Though once dim and uninviting, it now hosts the Michelin-approved Xiao Long Bao specialist Din Tai Fung, London’s Neapolitan pizza expert Pizza Pilgrims, the Instagram-famous EL&N Café, and Bubble Magik, which serves authentic bubble teas and the rare cheese teas, the tops of which are layered with foamy cream cheese.
Then head down to the food hall on the ground floor. It has franchises like Tonkotsu, Yo! Sushi and Champagne & Oyster Bar by Caviar House & Prunier. And the Brass Rail right next to the food hall check-out actually serves some of the best-loved salt beef sandwiches in town. The Rosé Lumière Champagne Bar, which is between the food hall and the beauty hall, is a great place to taste some of the finest vintages from Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, Ruinart and Château d’Esclans.
A short walk away from the Victoria & Albert Museum, as a part of the 300 million pound Harrods restoration master plan, its world-famous food, dining and chocolate halls went through a series of renovations in recent years, bringing the sensory experiences to a new high.
On top of offering delicacies including artisan chocolates, exotic fruits and prime meats like Wagyu beef and blue-legged chicken from France, there are many dining options inside the department store as well.
The dining hall on the ground floor alone has six restaurants, including The Grill, which serves fine dry-aged steaks and English rotisserie chicken; Pasta Evangelists; Caviar House & Prunier; the Sushi Bar; Kerridge’s Fish & Chips, and Kama by Vineet, which serves high-end Indian food. A must visit for many shoppers is the famous Harrods Tea Rooms for a quintessential English high tea experience.
Other fine-dining experiences worth trying inside Harrods include the pan-Asian eatery Chai Wu, where you can order a sashimi platter alongside Peking duck; Harrods Social by Jason Atherton, whose signature dishes include Cumbrian beef tartare, South Coast halibut with cauliflower mash, and the 82 percent chocolate tart, and the Lebanese restaurant Em Sherif, which was named one of the nine female-led restaurants to watch by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Of course, Harrods also comes with several culinary concepts with a luxury touch. The Baccarat Bar is the place to get a cocktail served in Baccarat crystal ahead of a dinner reservation. Meanwhile, the Tiffany Blue Box Cafe, Café Juliette, London’s first rosé bar, and the Perrier-Jouët Champagne Terrace and the Moët & Chandon Champagne bar, opening end of June, are great places to recover after a day of intense luxury shopping.
But if you are just looking for a short break in between brands, feel free to check out the Coffee Bar, Harrods Café, Harrods Roast & Bake, Pizzeria & Pasqua, the Lebanese Bakery and Gordon Ramsay Burger for a quick bite and a recharge.
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