Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nordstrom Cafe at MacArthur Mall

Tucked away in the corner of Nordstrom's third floor, hidden behind linens and lingerie, lies one of downtown Norfolk's not so best kept secrets, the Nordstrom Cafe. Nationally famous for world class service, only at Nordstrom could you feel so good about strolling down a cafeteria line with your meal tray. Forget all your nightmares about high school cafeteria food. You will not see one piece of mystery meat or mushy vegetables on this line of food. No one is standing guard with an industrial sized spoon in hand, ready to slop runny mashed potatoes and gravy on your plate. What you will find is an interesting variety of freshly prepared soups, sandwiches, pizzas, entrees, salads, and deserts.

The line begins with 5-6 sandwich options, followed by two hot soups, a killer looking cheesy cornbread muffin, another half dozen entree options, 2-3 Panini sandwiches, 2-3 pizzas, grilled veggies and chicken and 6-7 freshly made salads. Everything is made fresh when you order it (except the soup, of course). For hot foods, you place your order and are given a numbered card to take to your table. At lunch, salads appear to be the most popular, as the line tends to come to a halt while patrons wait and watch the salad maestro mix and blend house favorites. I love the salad lady. She is always smiling. She has made so many salads that she barely looks down as she grabs the ingredients, pitches them in her stainless steel bowl and whips them together with one of their delicious dressings.

If you are not getting a salad, feel free to “cut” in line and head up to the registers. Just make sure you at least glance at the deserts on your way there. Staples in the desert case are cannoli, macaroons, cheesecakes, and assorted cookies. To die for. Worth whatever the fat and calorie content may be. Alex and I are always threatening to sneak out of work one day in the afternoon and just eat deserts. The cookies are so big that my 4 year old can’t even finish one….and she never says no to anything containing sugar. For those not returning to a job that prohibits working under the influence, there are several beer and wine options available. Since I need my job, I opt for caffeine related beverages. I am a big fan of the ginger peach tea. It can be a little strong flavored sometimes, but nothing that adding extra ice won’t temper. Ask for a “to-go” cup when you are paying and you can fill up before you leave and take some back to the office for later.

On Monday, Alex, my step-daughter and I headed up to the cafe for lunch. My step-daughter, who is also working downtown and looking for some lunch time dining options, had never been to the cafe. Anyone who knows me knows I love introducing people to Nordstrom Cafe. I drag everyone there. (No complaints yet, either!). I opted for one of my favorites, the Salmon Salad Nicoise. Their take on the traditional French salad is to replace the tuna with a Salmon fillet (covered in salty pesto type sauce) omit the anchovies and add capers. This is a hot salad, and overall is fairly salty due to the fish, olives and capers. I made the error of forgetting to ask for the dressing on the side, and was a tad disappointed when it arrived swimming in dressing. I’ll remember next time! However, it did not keep me from enjoying every bite. My step-daughter ordered the Chicken and sun dried tomato Panini, and a cannoli. I was glad to see that she could not wait until after eating her sandwich to try the cannoli. The sandwich arrived in a reasonable time, crispy, flavorful. It was gone in under five minutes. The remainder of the cannoli soon followed.

Service at the cafe consists of servers who will clear your trays from the table, bring out your meals, refill drinks, and get you just about anything you like. Although it is cafeteria style, tipping is expected and well deserved. Having gone there a number of years now, I can say that the staff seems to experience very little turn over. You will see the same people over and over again. Everyone has a great attitude and is very solicitous.

A few things to keep in mind about the cafe for lunch….lines can get long at the noon hour. You can however, get in and out in under an hour on most days. If there is a big sale going on at the store though, forget it. The place will be mobbed. Once the tables are full, the team working the line will purposely slow it down, so you won’t be left standing with a tray and no where to sit. They have it down to a science. The adjoining restroom/lounge is always clean. As for the temperature, it is freezing in the cafe. Let me go on record to say that I am NOT one of those women who is always cold too. Quite the opposite actually. So when I say it is cold in there, it’s really cold. Alex actually had blue lips on Monday. Bring a sweater or a wrap and your experience won’t be marred by the temperature. Prices for lunch are moderate. Typically lunch with a beverage will cost about $12-15, not including tip. For me, the Nordstrom Cafe is always a favorite.



Anonymous said...

I love love love the Blue Cheese & Pear Salad... minus the blue cheese please... ;)

Andreika said...

I have to check it out one day.

Anonymous said...

Great Information, keep it coming. I love Nordstroms as well and the Greek salad Pizza is to die for.

Anonymous said...

I love eating great foods and NordStrom cafe offers quality taste products. I also like to find NordStrom code offers to get cheap and best NordStrom food and clothing products.