Mall food courts are something of local food wasteland. Big chains huddle together, shoulder to shoulder, competing to serve you greasy pizza, limp salads, and gloppy buffet dishes. And you duly fork over the money because you’re here, you’re hungry, and you’re not done shopping. So I was excited when Cafe Beau opened in Parkway Place Mall this summer. It was local and, better yet, it was supporting another local business by serving desserts from Peggy Ann’s Bakery.
The hubby and I made our way up to the food court one Sunday. The lines were fairly light and we were behind just one other person. We studied the menu while we waited. When it was our turn we went with one hamburger combo (all the trimmings, opted not to add cheese or bacon) and one chicken salad wrap combo. Our server filled and handed over our drink cups and we wandered down the counter to wait for our food. The wait was a bit longer than the usual mall fare and the cooking/assembly took place in a rear kitchen, out of sight of the front counter.
I had requested that my order be packaged to go, but had mentioned that I would be eating it in the food court. Usually this means I get my good packed to go and then have to unpack it to eat it. I was impressed then that the staff had provided a lid with my order, but had otherwise packaged it as they would for someone planning to eat “in”. We picked up our meals and found an open table. Being in a mall food court gives you about the ambiance you would expect. Small children babbling, older children bouncing on the indoor trampoline contraption. Piped mall music (they had already started with the Christmas playlist!), hard plastic benches and chairs, somewhat sticky tables.
My burger, shown at the top of this post, featured a thin hand formed patty, a single tomato slice, a solitary ring of onion, a showy ruffle of lettuce and a pile of pickles on a plain, untoasted, white bread bun which was sprinkled with small seeds. The staff had asked us if we wanted ketchup and I had agreed, so I was well stocked with packets. I was a little surprised to see that “everything” on the burger did not include any condiments. The slender patty was chewy and dry, and the grease sliding off its surface fell in a steady drip.drip.drip onto my tray. The flavor was bland, the strongest flavors came from the pickles and ketchup. The tomato, lettuce, and onion went unnoticed. The fries were better, a medium thick cut served piping hot they at least had the benefit of salt and seasonings to give them some pep.
The hubby declared his wrap a solid “meh” and said that his fries were over salted. (Disclaimer: Food styling done by me so you could see the interior of the wrap. It came out looking like a thin burrito, sliced in half.)
As food court offerings go, Cafe Beau offers some advantages…the food appears to be made to order and it didn’t leave me with the “food sludge hangover” that overly greasy food court offerings often do. That said, it was’t a particularly great meal either. If you are pressed for time and just need something now, it may be worth checking out. But if you have the patience to be more discerning then I would keep on going.
Total for the meal: $16.85 (includes one burger combo and one wrap combo)