Harvey Nichols’ new Spring menu: ‘I took my baby to a luxury dining experience’ in Yorkshire

Where I go, my baby goes but not everyone feels as passionately about babies as I do. Especially at higher end establishments.

I had an immense feeling of trepidation when heading to Harvey Nichols’ Fourth Floor brasserie this week for “a work thing” to taste their new spring menu with my seven-month-old baby Athena.

I have previously taken my tween daughters to the Harvey Nichols beauty counter because it’s now “TikTok famous.”

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I’d never imagined taking kids there prior, thinking we’d get the Pretty Woman treatment. The staff were so accommodating however despite my frazzled appearance, my two excited tweens and my squealing baby.

Sophie Mei Lan Malin with daughter Athena at Harvey NicholsSophie Mei Lan Malin with daughter Athena at Harvey Nichols
Sophie Mei Lan Malin with daughter Athena at Harvey Nichols

A baby, a busy restaurant, fancy crockery, fine food and expensive drinks. Still sounded like the potential for disaster though.

I have heard good things about the Fourth Floor and the menu launch was on a day I only had Athena and not the other four children, so it was therefore worth the risk.

Would my normally angelic baby turn into a teething monster and scream the restaurant down? Or would she be a sweet smiling cherub championing babies everywhere?

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Harvey Nichols started as a luxury linen store inside a terraced house in Knightsbridge, London in 1831, until 1975 when they opened their first restaurant.

Chocolate Sponge off the menuChocolate Sponge off the menu
Chocolate Sponge off the menu

Since then, their luxurious shopping experience has become synonymous with fine food and drink. So much so Princess Diana became a regular client and would reserve a spot at the back of the restaurant.

By 1996 Harvey Nichols had opened their first destination store outside of London in Leeds. I was eight years old at the time and remember going for a day out there with my dads. It was a tourist attraction.

Nowadays “Harvey Nics” is complete with a fine restaurant, food court and even a champagne and cake bar.

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How would it fare over 20 years later and now with my own baby?

Rum Soaked Pineapple and MeringueRum Soaked Pineapple and Meringue
Rum Soaked Pineapple and Meringue

Dodging the many workers on their lunch breaks, we escaped the bustling Briggate and entered Harvey Nichols, which felt tranquil in comparison.

After weaving the buggy around the make-up counters, I took the lift up to the food floor. Through the stylish food court and straight into the brasserie, we were welcomed by staff who took our coats. This certainly didn’t feel like a normal department store eaterie. It felt special yet informal. You could come dressed up for cocktails or dressed down for a cup of coffee. Either way you can bask in modern luxury while glancing out over the skyline of Leeds city centre. While it was busy there was plenty of space for the pushchair.

The staff passed me a selection of menus. The new spring menu is three courses and a choice of cocktail for £35, all seasonal and using Yorkshire produce.

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I was surprised they had an entire seasonal plant-based menu which was perfect for me. I even had options to choose from which is rare. Not only that, it was as equally interesting as the main menu.

Quinoa Salad off the plant-based Spring MenuQuinoa Salad off the plant-based Spring Menu
Quinoa Salad off the plant-based Spring Menu

I went for asparagus, cashew mousse, dukkah and marinated feta. Whereas you could also get ham hock, fish options or the other vegan option is whipped tofu. Each was super interesting.

This all felt too good to be true. My baby was sound asleep in the pushchair next to me as I ordered. I was sitting at a shared dining table with other people tasting the menu; at this point everyone was cooing over my peacefully sleeping baby. I even had time for a chat as we were served cocktails. I was offered a mocktail because I don’t drink alcohol, and it was sweet and refreshing. A perfect way to start my so far tranquil lunch.

Just as the starters were served, Athena began to stir. All the plates had generous portions.

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I had asparagus al dente with the cashew mousse which was light and divine with a Middle Eastern blend of spices on top.

By this point Athena was on my lap attempting to throw the cutlery. I replaced the shiny fork in her hand with some asparagus which she sucked on and devoured. Each element was so tasty. I didn’t have much of the vegan feta because it was too rich for me but it did taste exactly like the real thing which I’m not a huge fan of.

Athena and I managed to finish off the starters other than the feta. Before lobbing a fork on to the floor. I attempted to reach it but before I could the friendly waitress swept it up and replaced it with a new one.

Athena aged 7 months tested out the meringuesAthena aged 7 months tested out the meringues
Athena aged 7 months tested out the meringues

The service was spectacular. It felt like silver service-style attentiveness but the dining arrangement was light, airy and that confusing term ‘smart casual.’

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Next up were the mains; rather than choosing one of the exciting options I forced myself to go healthy with the quinoa salad. Other mains included a twist on contemporary British dining such as sirloin beef, chicken breast, risotto or goats cheese.

While my warm salad was hard to look aesthetically pleasing it was a feast for my vegan eyes. The quinoa was scattered with generous portions of chickpeas, broad beans, artichoke, cucumber and pomegranate.

Some of the other mains looked even more epic but I was pleased with mine. It was so tasty and the macadamia nuts added more depth. It was rich, filling and delicious while not being too heavy for a late lunch.

Everyone polished off their mains while our water was topped up by staff.

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Looking over the menu I couldn’t get over the reasonable price - £35 for three courses and a cocktail. I exclaimed how I’d spent more for a set meal at one of the big chain fast food joints with the kids. Staff told me how they also have a kids menu. It’s one of the nicest family friendly places I’ve been to, combining traditional British cuisine with Middle Eastern twists.

Next up was the desserts.

The waitress talked us through the options and while I don’t have a sweet tooth, I was intrigued to taste some of the desserts from the traditional decadent selection of a chocolate tart and honeycomb ice cream, treacle sponge and apple cake to rum and vanilla poached pineapple.

I went for the latter pineapple dish because it was unusually served with coconut iced parfait, chilli, Amaretti cheesecake mousse and crispy yuzu meringues. I wanted to try new flavour combinations because my go to is chocolate.

I’m not normally a pineapple lover but I’d never had it like this. Delicious. The biscuits added the perfect crunch and pop of flavour. Athena grabbed the sticks of meringues and thoroughly enjoyed feeling them melt in her mouth and then crumble onto the shiny marble floor.

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Each time I went to quickly tidy up Athena’s mess the waitress would swoop in and tell me not to worry.

This all felt too good to be true.

Before we knew it, it was school run time. I quickly sipped my strong black coffee. The perfect way to finish our late lunch.

Athena and I will definitely be back with my other daughters who’ll enjoy their kids' menu of staples such as spaghetti bolognese, a roast dinner and fish and chips. I’ll be back to try the main menu too but most of all to receive the service.

At £35 per head for the spring set menu including a cocktail is superb value for money especially compared to some of the fast food restaurants I’ve spent the same or more at in recent times.

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