Food Halls Have Landed

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Food Halls Have Landed

By Bob Ingram - 02/10/2011

In Europe and Asia, there is a long-standing tradition of combining quality foods, high end dining, and culinary shopping into one experience known as food halls. London’s Harrods, La Grand Epicerie in Paris, and Takayashima in Tokyo are now joined by celebrity chef Todd English’s Plaza Food Hall in the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

In a 4,500 square foot space, the Plaza Food Hall offers a European-style food market, 80 seats for dine-in, and eight culinary stations that also provide take-out options, a fresh flower shop, and an abundance of specialty and international food items and cookware. The open kitchens allow for interaction with the chefs, demonstrations, and classes, and there are ongoing wine classes.

There is the “Dumpling Bar” for Asian-American fare, the “Ocean Grill & Oyster Bar,” and “The Grill” for burgers and salads, as well as a cheese and charcuterie counter, a wine bar with tapas, a bakery, and a stone hearth oven for pizzas. Prices are mid-range.

The Big Apple also now boasts Eataly, another food hall, this by chef Mario Batali and aimed at Italian gourmands. In the Flatiron District, it offers the finest food and drinks from throughout Italy, as well as culinary classes.

I have a feeling some kind of food hall hybrid will migrate to supermarkets, once they be begin popping up more and more around the country. Remember those turnkey supermarket food courts that didn’t quite make it in the Eighties? Trouble was, they were basically cheesy, mall-like food courts. Now that food retailers like Wegmans and Whole Foods have given life to Martha Stewart’s edict that “mass wants class,” some variety of food hall could be coming to progressive American grocers.