Yesterday we went to Whole Foods on Kensington High Street, the first UK version of the American Health Food chain - and something of a retail destination at the moment in London. The shop is arranged on three floors, and apparently the biggest of all the shops in the chain - bigger even than the giant cornucopias in Austen and Columbia Circle. First, we ate on the first floor food court. There is a seafood bar, a sushi bar, a juice bar, a pizzaria, a mezze bar and a vegan bar amongst others. The food was good but over-priced (my child-sized portion of hummus, couscous and moussaka cost six quid - it would have been six dollars in the US). While my fellow visitors were finishing their food, I went for a scout around the other two floors. I took this sneaky pic with my phone camera (you're not supposed to take photos). The layout is similar to the US versions, especially in the way the fruit and veg are laid out on open central stands (as opposed to always being on shelves as in UK supermarkets), with lettuces pressed together vertically to create a wall of enticingly crisp wet leaf. Despite the prices, the place was buzzing. The customer service is excellent. I asked several members of staff whether they liked working there - they all smiled and said they did. Whole Foods knew what they were doing by having the former Barkers department store as their first site. The building is beautiful - triple height ceilings, art deco finishes etc. With Notting Hill, Kensington, Holland Park and Chelsea all within minutes in the weekend Boxster or the weekday Lexus, there must be ten thousand millionaires within a two mile radius who are not used to bothering about much things actually cost. Despite these misgivings, it will be nice to see that miserable philistine excuse of a health-food chain, Holland & Barrett, booted out in the cold. I bought a stick of French garlic and some mocha coffee soya ice cream, which my friends hungrily laid into when I went back upstairs.
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