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[Not a?] Newsflash! Good Dining to be Had at Nordstrom!

December 6, 2010

By Pat Tanner

I like to think that I regularly introduce you to all things new and exciting in the world of food and dining. But just this once I may very well be on the backend of something you already know: surprisingly good meals can be had inside the state’s five Nordstrom department stores. With the mad (not to say insane) holiday shopping rush upon us, I think this is the ideal time to share my so-called discovery.

Maybe it’s because I am old enough to recall the days, long before mall food courts, when every major department store – among them Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, and Bamberger’s (R.I.P.) – had at least one dining facility where weary shoppers could take a break. Those days are long gone, but that idea is not—and Nordstrom is a prime exception.

The fare at their cafes is surprisingly good, especially the soups and salads. These latter include both old-school standards like Cobb and Shrimp Louis, as well as updated ones like Chicken, Apple, and Goat Cheese with Champagne Vinaigrette.  But even the hot entrees are tasty and seemingly wholesome. Exhibit A: Salmon Couscous, which I scarfed down on a recent visit to the Freehold store, while friends feasted on Italian Chicken Soup—the special soup of the day—and Lime Cilantro Chicken Salad. Recipes for some of these are online and if they are true to the versions we enjoyed they feature all-natural and even organic ingredients.

The setting, too, is a throwback in the best sense of the word. Tables are well spaced, the room is remarkably peaceful, and servers—at least ours—are gracious. The cafes/bistros (they vary from store to store, including their menus) are not full-serve: you place and pay for your order at the counter, but then a server brings you water, drinks, set-ups, and, ultimately, your order. It is remarkably civilized. Which is why for the friends who took me there–and who happen to live a mere ten minutes away–Nordstrom is often the go-to place at the end of a busy workday or week. For the rest of us, dining here can be a welcome oasis in the middle of hectic shopping. Search “restaurant” for locations, menus, and even recipes.

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