Harrods gets a new look, British food halls expanding

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

New food emporiums are mushrooming in London. The newly extended food halls at Harrods caused a major buzz and stir, with a royal opening by Princess Anne last fall.

''Naturally British, Naturally Harrods'' was the theme of the opening occasion. Leading buyers from overseas were treated to a British royal breakfast as part of the festivities.

Harrods has invested (STR)2.6 million ($3.67 million) in the project, enlarging the former food section of the store by 50 percent. The new layout of the various food halls is impressive, and totally new areas have been added. Also new are two restaurants and a parcel-to-car service.

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London visitors who have an interest in food displays and the range of foods available in Britain today are advised to include the Harrods food halls in their itinerary.

The next new food shop, along the Cromwell Road, should be the extensive supermarket of J. Sainsbury.

Sainsbury's is renowned in many shopping precincts in Britain, and the firm's name is synonymous with top quality food and drink. In-store guides to seasonal goods are well worth collecting. The company has re-introduced wild birds, venison, and other game, which are highly flavorsome compared with domesticated alternatives.

Country Life Vegetarian Restaurant and Foodstore is the third new food venture, just off Regent Street, with the entrance at No. 1 Heddon Street. It is a surprisingly tranquil haven just a few steps from the hustle and bustle of the West End.

Vegetarian foods, fruit, and vegetables, as well as cosmetics and books, are on the ground-floor level.

Below, there is a most attractive basement restaurant for about 75 persons, where smoking is not permitted.

The Scandinavian help-yourself-to-as-much-as-you-like system is in operation, and the items, whether sweet or savory, are entirely vegetarian.

Vegan customers will be happy to know that cheeses are nondairy, and all dishes are caffeine and alchohol free, low salt, with no sugar added.

Country Life breads are made with whole wheat flour or other whole grain cereals. Cakes, biscuits, and sweet dishes are made with honey or other natural sweeteners such as dried fruit.

The fruit-salad counter has a marvelous collection of optional items such as nuts, Kashmir apricots, dried fruits, pumpkin seeds, and apple cream.

Hot dishes include oatburger balls, lasagne, spinach quiche, and Italian bean bake.

Savory dishes include rice, whole grains, beans, pasta and cheese.

Foil-wrapped jacket potatoes are served every day. Beverages include herbal teas, grain ''coffee,'' and fruit juices.

Everything is available to take away. At present, there is an introductory price of (STR)1.99 ($2.81) for the savory dishes; sweets and drinks are extra.

The normal price range will be (STR)1.99 for soup and salad, plus an extra (STR)1 for a hot entree dish and vegetables, plus a further (STR)1 for fruit salad or other sweet dish.

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