Where do you go to eat in the mall when P.F. Chang’s and Legal Seafoods have hour-long waits and the Cheesecake Factory has limited options for food allergies? Instead of heading to food court and trying to explain your food allergy to people that don’t understand or care, head to Nordstrom.
Some people look into online
universities when they just can’t find a restaurant that suits all
their needs and want to refine their specialty culinary skills.
Nordstrom has several different concepts for the restaurants in their stores. Some, like the North Shore and Natick Malls have a café with typical café fare such as steak frites and salads. I, however, prefer the Blue Stove, a tapas style restaurant at the Burlington Mall (if that location is inconvenient, you can go onto their website and find which stores have which style of restaurant).
Blue Stove is a good place to grab a quick, quiet meal. Tapas portions are generally on the small side. I am not a big eater, so the portions here are perfect (I suggest starting with two or three dishes per person depending on your appetite).
The venue is dimly lit and comfortable, if a little impersonal, it is at least dim enough that the boring décor is not really an issue. Blue Stove is never crowded. It is hidden in the back of the store, so I have never seen a line for a table or the restaurant even more than half-full.
The service is generally good, not exceptional, but always pleasant. Blue Stove does not have a gluten-free menu, however, all the staff I have encountered there have been well- trained on the menu and understand food allergies very well. Some can even asterisk gluten-free items off the top of their heads.
I have tried probably about half the menu by now, but one of the nice things about Blue Stove is that some menu items change with the seasons, so while the menu is small, there are changes often enough to keep it is interesting.
Last time we were there, I had:
The parmesan polenta salad, which is good. The polenta is warm and crunchy on the outside, while still being creamy in the middle. The rest of the salad is a little plain, but the salad is simply dressed and the parmesan cheese always makes everything better. I wish they sold the polenta bites solo with some marinara dipping sauce.
The goat cheese and beet salad is nice. When you order the gluten-free version, they do not bread and fry the goat cheese, but it is still good. The beets are shaved and they plate up a variety of golden and regular red beets, so there are a lot of flavors on that one little plate.
When I ordered the grilled chicken and corn salad with arugula, I didn’t realize the dish was a salad, since it was not listed in the salad section. When you say chicken with arugula, I expect to be served chicken with an arugula garnish, not a salad with a few tiny chunks of greasy chicken sitting sadly on top. This was probably the most disappointing dish I have ever had a Blue Stove. The chicken skin was greasy and lumpy. The meat was dark meat, which is fine, but it requires something acidic or spicy to cut through the greasier, gamier dark meat. This was a boring, unappealing dish.
The sweet potato fries are gluten-free and they are delicious. We always order these and end up fighting over the last few fries. The fries a sweet and crunchy and I really like the cilantro aioli.
Overall, I highly recommend the Nordstrom cafes, no matter which style of restaurant is at your local Nordstrom. Every Nordstrom I have been to has been knowledgeable about gluten and other food allergies and happy find suitable dishes.
- How Nordstrom Bests Its Retail Rivals (businessweek.com)