From the dim dark ages of my youth, I have vivid memories of visiting the Harrod’s Food Hall at Christmas time and feeling like I was in a dream. There were full feathered pheasants hanging in rows with geese and quails, hares with huge ears poised next to primed piglets, there were fountains of oysters piled high to the ceiling with waterfalls gushing down over the glistening shells, and there were pastries and chocolates displayed like works of art. It was all so fabulously excessive and English, and remains in my mind ( where it cannot be compromised ) as the absolute creme de la creme. Since then sneeze guards and service have changed the look of gourmet food markets, but nevertheless there are still treats to be had.
When the Plaza Hotel was renovated a few years ago and most of the rooms were turned into private condos, there was much dismay about the dismantling of the old kitchens in the basement. While the amenities were not preserved, they were transformed into the Todd English Food Hall, which has given the idea of lunch at the Plaza a whole new audience. The hall is a conglomerate of many smaller gourmet vendors, where you can buy pastries and coffee to go, find some fabulous cheese and sausage, or sit down for sushi or a burger. It’s that classic American combination of casual and flash. There is still a connection to the old Plaza in the smattering of photos of President Kennedy and Grace Kelly on the walls – and of course the unmistakable signature of Eloise with her pink party room around the corner. So whether you are off to the Park for a picnic or on the wrong side of the pond entertaining Penelope, The Plaza will play into that lovely memory of the Manor…..