Updated 13/11/17 with first pictures of the new hall
Big, big news for lovers of the foodie wonderland that are the Harrods Food Halls: the Grade II listed space is about to undergo a serious, two-year-long redevelopment.
Billed (somewhat dramatically) as 'The Taste Revolution!', the restoration will kick off from November with the grand unveiling of a new roastery, coffee bar and bakery, with a takeaway counter round the back on Basil Street.
First up, the coffee. Harrods is appointing a new head roaster by the name of Bartosz Ciepaj, who'll be overseeing freshly-roasted blends available throughout the store, coffee tastings, bags to take home - the works.
Next, in the bakery, you'll find "ceiling-high shelves stacked with fresh loaves of bread" made by Harrods chefs with premium ingredients sourced from across Europe - your standard loaves of sourdough, these are not.
In fact, there'll be a whopping 30 different types of baked goods for you to select from, including cold-proved baguette, rolls made with laminated-dough (no, we're not totally sure either...), and croissants made with Montaigu French butter. And that doesn't even include their new range of pastries, cakes and biscuits, which you may as grab a couple of, seeing as you've gone all the way to Knightsbridge...
The new takeaway counter will be called Roast and Bake. There, you'll be able to grab lunch-sized versions of the above, plus salads, and snack pots including the likes of seared tuna tenderloin with avocado, or freekeh with turmeric hummus.
There'll also be a new tea room AND that's only phase one of what they're calling The Taste Revolution, so do keep your eyes peeled for news on further developments. It's all looking a bit exciting down on Brompton Road.
We popped along to check it out the day before it opened and it has definitely got the wow factor. From the scent of freshly baked bread and roasted coffee that hits you when you enter to the range of personalised services, Harrods have set the bar high for the rest of the refurb. Now there are opportunities to personalise your loaf of Harrods sourdough with your initials and even blend your own tea. If you want to try a delicate blend of Earl Grey and Summer Flowers - ask for the Hot Dinners blend which they now have on their database.
The patisserie selection was also incredibly strong - we can't remember the last time we saw such an array of beautiful cakes in one space. Anyone with a sweet tooth is going to do some serious damage to their bank balance if left alone here for any time.
Q&A with April Peston - Executive Head of Food Innovation at Harrods
Was there one thing in particular that led to the decision by Harrods to undertake this major restoration?
Our beloved Food Halls have always been at the heart of Harrods, a treasure trove of the highest quality foods. To stay true to this reputation within the fast paced and ever-changing world of food retail, The Taste Revolution will see Harrods bring something entirely unique. Nowhere else will you see such a combination of skill, service and food in a Grade II*-listed environment, it will be the world’s greatest food emporium.
Were you inspired by any stores or food halls in other countries?
As an avid foodie, I love to try as many different dishes and ingredients when I travel and throughout my 30 years in the food industry, I have built up an extensive library of inspiration. From Amsterdam and Paris to America and Japan, there is so much creativity to enjoy, but The Taste Revolution will see Harrods bring an entirely unique offering; we have a team of expert buyers and chefs who create, curate and source the highest quality produce from around the world for the enjoyment of London foodies.
Were there any concerns that regular users of the halls might not like the changes? And if so, what are you doing to allay any fears?
Harrods Food Halls have always been the number one destination for food retail in London, providing an unparalleled selection of high quality goods. The Taste Revolution project will build on this rich history, bringing never before seen experiences to London and is something we are confident our discerning customers will adore!
Are you trying to make the halls as relevant to locals and Londoners as they are a draw for tourists? How do you appeal to both?
Boasting an abundance of everyday essentials, the Roastery and Bake Hall will provide a welcoming environment for customers to purchase all their store cupboard must-haves; from freshly baked bread and coffee roasted at Harrods, to dried pasta, oils and condiments sourced from across the world. Our aim is to create a stress-free shopping experience where customers can easily access all the ingredients they need to make beautiful dishes at home.
What's Harrods USP in terms of its food halls would you say? And if you were to pick out two things that people should dash over to Knightsbridge to try as soon as it opens - what would they be?
For the first time in Harrods history, customers will be able to see our Master Baker baking bespoke loaves of bread and our Master Roaster roasting bespoke blends of coffee on the shop floor. The theatre of food will be celebrated, with touch points for every sense. The sound of the bell ringing as fresh bakes are removed from the oven, the smell of coffee roasting and the ability to taste produce before purchasing will make for a truly memorable experience. Customers will rush to our Food Halls to experience the theatre of food and the highest quality products.
The Roastery and Bake Hall is your first openings - what's next?
The Taste Revolution is a momentous project, the first of its kind in over 30 years. By 2020, we will have launched a total of five new concepts, giving our customers access to the number one food destination in the world. Each one will display the same meticulous attention to detail in product development and interior design and will provide the perfect platform to showcase the talent of our experts.
More about the New Harrods food hall
Where is it? 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL
When does it open? In stages from 14 November 2017