BA C K I N t h e day, a v i s i t t o a shopping mall was never about the food. When the old lady of north-west London — Brent Cr o s s S hopping Centre — opened her doors, there was barely a sandwich in sight. How things have changed — now there is a dedicated food court and tempting kiosks every few paces to keep the shoppers on site.
As many of us will be spending more time than usual in shopping centres over the next few weeks, we will probably be having a mall-bound meal or two. So here’s a seasonal guide to some of the top places to eat/rest/entertain the children/husband while you are hunting for Chanucah gifts — whether you are trying to stay healthy or want to surrender to festive indulgence from the minute you set foot on the marble floors.
After a recent facelift, Brent Cross anchor store Fenwick has more than its fair share of worth-a-visit eateries. Tucked away on the third floor of the glam fashion store is Patisserie Valerie, home of flaky, Belgian patisserie and showstopper gateaux — a perfect spot to plan your shopping strategy over croissants and café au lait. Or, to sustain a full onslaught on the shops, enjoy a cooked breakfast from Three, Fenwick’s own waiterservice restaurant next door, or Carluccio’s down on Fenwick’s lower-ground floor.
Perhaps you just fancy a juice or smoothie from ShakeTastic (also on Fenwick’s third floor) — better known for its huge range of milkshakes made from almost any chocolate bar, biscuit or sweet treat you can think of. Fairly quiet on term-time mornings, in the afternoons it is often thronging with thirsty, uniformed children.
You could cure the mid-morning slumps with a shot of caffeine from the Tonino Lamborghini Caffe, at the foot of the escalator to the food court. Truly the best coffee this side of Roma.
By lunchtime, you will be looking for a place to park your shopping bags. Lighter-biters will make a beeline for Wagamama, Yo Sushi or new Japanese kiosk Youmesushi (at the foot of the central escalators).
Youmesushi sells interesting sushi platters (the salmon-packed Detox Box is a saintly treat); salads (check out the Super Seaweed), fruit pots and a handful of hot dishes, including miso salmon and a panko-crusted vegetarian tofu.
Observant shoppers can fuel up at The Kanteen — the family-owned, kosher, deli-style restaurant offering a huge menu, from breakfast bagels and shakshuka to pizzas, pasta dishes and omelettes, sandwiches and salads.
If you’re still at Brent Cross mid-afternoon, a cupcake at Lola’s café will be hard to resist. Cupcake milkshakes and sundaes will surely be an incentive to