Good Food Blog
Shopping centre bluesPosted at 10:54AM, 18 November 2010 by Caroline Hire - Food editor, bbcgoodfood.com
Usually the lowlight of any shopping centre trip is the hasty and often overpriced snack grabbed from one of the big department stores or coffee chains. Or worse still, the food court. Put those two words together and a cold shiver runs down my spine. Please don't make me go there!
Sitting at plastic tables that could do with a wipe, huddles of tired shoppers, beaten by shopping (if not life) push greasy noodles around their plates.
Choice is not always a good thing when the options seem a sadly unloved, disparate and desperate collection of fast food stands. And sitting at plastic tables that could do with a wipe, huddles of tired shoppers, beaten by shopping (if not life) push greasy noodles, pre-made sandwiches or sluggish salads around their plates. You won't find animated and intimate conversation here as you might if you'd actually gone out with the sole intention of eating. The shopping trip lunch is simply a means to an end - the fuel to get you through the shopping ahead, not something to be lingered over...
Or is it? On a recent trip to Bluewater, I feared I was in for another less-than-enjoyable repast and so was thoroughly surprised by the latest addition to their culinary offering. Cadbury Cocoa House is a quirky tea room that serves fresh sandwiches, afternoon tea and ice creams with retro décor and old-fashioned tunes. Emerging after a very fine refueling, I noted that there are in fact a few promising establishments to be found in Europe's third biggest shopping centre. Of course they couldn't forgo the unsavoury food court but old habits die hard.
Young pretender Westfield seems to have upped the ante for good shopping chow with a classy version of the food court and they've called it their 'communal style dining experience' (get them). The Balcony as it's also known has a great selection of mini versions of 'proper' restaurants and if you don't want to have, err...a communal dining experience they also have a good line in restaurants, including Jamie's Italian and Busaba Eathai. Perhaps the days of the dodgy food court are over afterall...
Is eating as much a part of your shopping trip as shopping? Would you go near a food court without a gun pointing to your head/ wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat? Let us know.