With all of the great places to eat in London now, it's hard to keep up with the old faithfuls. But with Christmas shopping imminent and a new restaurant at Harvey Nichols, it seem like a great time to return to this old haunt.
I remembered the Fifth Floor restaurant not just as a place for ladies who lunch, but also, in its later incarnation, the place for people to meet. I was curious indeed about going back.
The welcome was very amiable, with a friendly staff and warm smiles, a super change from the often sullen, arrogant greeters you all too often have to bear in London restaurants right now. There is nothing to beat a Mediterranean welcome. Our Sardinian waiter with a broad Dutch accent couldn’t do enough for us, and we loved him!
The décor has been created by the woman who does the window exhibits for the store, which I have been admiring those for years, But the autumn theme was a bit odd, with the tree stems and huge rose sculpture of the freeze-dried variety. I’d say the appeal of changing of the room with the seasons will work best in evening lightening. (But maybe they’ll get the daytime going more when the Christmas comes. Santas all around, perhaps?)
The menu was a new departure, too. For a set price (£25) you get the choice of starter and a main, with fabulous dishes on the list. The white truffle pasta wasn’t quite cooked enough for me (I simply can’t get used to the English al dente I suppose, but let’s not argue about 10 seconds cooking time). My fennel and hay baked Cornish sea bass was so fresh it felt still sea-bound, beautifully cooked and full of flavour. My friend’s venison filet was wonderful too, very tender, and sauced perfectly (and he is a fussy Austrian who knows his venison). Desserts were a bit mighty, though I misordered, and the rocket and lemon sorbet paired with lemon meringue pie were not really for me. The Black Forest cherry and white chocolate pot was tasty, but a giant portion, and somewhat overwhelming. We really enjoyed the experience, and isn't that is what eating out is all about?
I hope they will keep the restaurant nice and quiet. There seemed to be a start-up of Muzak when we were leaving. It’s bliss to enjoy your food while talking to friends, so please Fifth Floor, just be your friendly, pleasant self and the customers will love you and your food.