87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1X 7XL www.harrods.com
George has been making coffees at Harrod’s for 20 years. But since Harrod’s invited the Galvins to revamp the old Espresso Cafe, George has been pouring Grand Cuvee, Roussanne, Rose and Beaujolais as well. The Galvin’s newest restaurant Demoiselle offers a traditional bistro menu, which might not seem outlandish, but to the regular clientele it is a big change from the café that used to grace the famous mezzanine. Less structured, this menu is specifically designed for lunches and light suppers. You can choose from a variety of smaller dishes like salads, soups and charcuterie, or the more substantial offerings including oysters with rye, confit of pork cheek or slow cooked Cornish lamb.
My lunch companion A, selected the smoked salmon blini that arrived as a picture on a plate. The blini topped with a generous dollop of crème fraiche, sat like an island on top of a coral sea of smoked salmon. I ordered endive salad with Roquefort, walnuts and chives. The walnuts were candied and added even more crunch to the already crispy salad. The chives went beyond a garnish and were nestled in clusters amongst the endive, lifting the flavour and freshness to delicious new heights. The only concern I had was that the bowl seemed a little small and deep to accommodate dainty dining. It made it difficult to eat the salad with the poise appropriate for Harrod’s.
For the mains I went with the recommended signature dish of baked lobster fishcake with warm vinaigrette of fresh ginger and chives. Mouth-watering umami-aroma burst from my plate in a moment of olfactory nirvana. A mound of crispy golden lobster was lavished with spring onions, parsley and an unusual but harmonious sprinkling of coriander.
The ravioli de Romans were a revelation. The little parcels of cheese-filled pasta were served floating in a pool of fine herb bouillon. This meal though light and delicate, still had a wonderful depth of flavour that is always sought, but not always found, in a vegetarian meal. The scaled down portions of the Demoiselle menu ensure that you won’t over extend yourself and they leave just the right amount of space for a coffee and an indulgent sweetie.
The Galvins picked this site because they felt it was the only choice for a quintessential Harrod’s culinary experience. Nestled on the mezzanine floor of the extravagant food court, Demoiselle over looks a cornucopia of fresh produce, delicacies and some of the finest food that London has to offer.
The modest refurbishment reveals Sarah Galvin’s feminine influence. The soft tones of dusky peach and sage green bring a fresh and sophisticated flair to the booths and banquettes. Early evening is the best time to visit Demoiselle, according to Sarah. The bustle and crowds of the tourist trade has died down by then and it’s just you, your supper and a glass of wine surrounded by the kind of old-world splendour that Harrod’s does so well.
We rounded off our lunch with a couple of puddings. The dessert selection is small, but contains all the classics including Apple Tart Tatin, Tart au Citron, and Crème Caramel. We went with the Baba au Rhum and Petit Pot au Chocolat.
While the rum baba wasn’t as soused as I like it, it was lovely and light, adorned with plumped raisins and Chantilly cream. The chocolate pot was decadent, but the Sable biscuits proved to be just a little too delicate for our heavy-handed approach, we ended up with crumbled biscuit all over the table.
I got the feeling that no matter what I had ordered at Demoiselle, it would have been amazing. The standard is Harrod’s-high, the produce is fresh, and after all, the Galvins are involved. And while you might not be able to order a cream tea anymore, the Galvin’s haven’t left the morning and afternoon tea crowd out in the cold. You can always order the Demoiselle Afternoon tea and never fear George is still behind the counter making the coffee.