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Westfield San Francisco Centre Food Emporium
Fast Food Taken Up a Notch
by Gloria Tai on Feb 08, 2007
The Fall 2006 unveiling of the Westfield San Francisco Centre not only offered up the high-end Westfield Restaurant Collection (reviewed previously), but also revealed a promising upscale food court in the basement level. Previously, fast food options in the vicinity had been so-so at best, leaving shoppers and office workers little choice but to slum it or hop on MUNI to eat at the fancy little delis and ethnic bistros near Montgomery and Embarcadero stations. The Food Emporium at Westfield has answered that need, offering quality food on the go and thus setting a new bar not only for mall eateries, but for Union Square dining as well.
Having opened sleek malls worldwide, the creators of Westfield have designed the Concourse Level of the Centre in similar fashion to the sister mall in Sydney, Australia, upscaling fast food dining with silver cutlery, authentic china and plenty of seating in the communal areas and at most of the eateries. A few highlights we've covered include Bistro Burger, Andale, San Francisco Soup Company, Melt Gelato & Crepe Café, Sorabol, Beard Papa, Pasta Moto, Mr. Hana, and Bristol Farms market.
You can’t go wrong with a dependable burger from San Francisco’s own Bistro Burger. The Westfield location is the fifth of the thriving chain to open in the city. Though this location offers slightly fewer choices, popular items from the full menu can be ordered here, such as the Paris Burger with brie and sautéed mushrooms ($8) and the California Burger with avocado, Jack cheese, and alfalfa sprouts ($7). Burgers are extremely filling, so if you’re appetite is calling for something lighter, there are several satisfying salads as well, including the Bistro Cobb ($9) and Chinese Chicken Salad ($9).
Other local offshoots include Andale, opened 20 years ago, which features fresh Mexican. Tasty mesquite grilled chicken is the pride of Andale, showing up all over the menu, from topping a Romaine lettuce salad ($7.95) to filling a torta sandwich ($8.75) to a burrito ($8.95).
San Francisco Soup Company has opened locations all over the Bay Area. The latest addition at the mall offers a range of at least 12 hearty gourmet soups that change daily, guaranteeing that you won’t ever tire of the selections. Signatures include organic tomato bisque and New England clam chowder ($4.61). The Mexican tortilla soup is a brilliant soup -- rich and smooth, as well as low-cal and dairy-free. A la carte half sandwiches ($2.75) and salads ($2.75) can be ordered as accompaniments.
Only the most premium chain eateries have found their way to Westfield. For authentic gelato and sorbetto, check out Melt Gelato & Crepe Café, which spans fourteen states from coast to coast, but still manages to maintain an artisan feel with its mounds of iced concoctions. A mesmerizing sight in all their colorful hues, gelato flavors include roasted pistachio, hazelnut, and toasted coconut. Sorbetto flavors run the gamut of the fruit family from pineapple to tequila lime to strawberry banana. A variety of sweet and savory crepes are also served, but who needs crepes when you have iced desserts?
Sorabol lives in over fourteen different locations with even a few in the Philippines. One of the more popular spots at Westfield, with constant lines winding from the counter, Sorabol serves delicious Korean barbecued meats accompanied by an abundance of side dishes including tasty chap chae (glass noodles), and thick, savory tofu stir-fried with vegetables. Plate lunches ($8.95) include the choice of two items. Items can also be ordered a la carte. At any one time there are a dizzying ten or more proteins and vegetables or side dishes to choose from.
Try one cream puff from Beard Papa, and you’ll forever be an addict. The choux pastry is light and fluffy like a sweet cloud, but holds a nice crisp on the outside, enveloping whipped cream custard that doesn’t scream but rather whispers of sugar. The concise menu consists of regular or chocolate cream puffs, cheesecake sticks (on both our visits, they ran out), and a weekly special cream puff flavor. The Japanese institution opened shop in Osaka in 1999 and has been growing into a worldwide franchise ever since, soon to include Brazil and the Middle East. (The other SF location is on Mission across from the Metreon.)
There are also plenty of other options in the Food Emporium, from fresh skewers at local chain Asqew Grill to Italian at Pasta Moto to Japanese at Mr. Hana. White chocolate-pistachio cookies from Tom's are an exceptional treat.
Gourmet market Bristol Farms has opened its first Northern California location here, taking a substantial space in the concourse level. Split in two, one side poses as a health food store, carrying natural supplements and cosmetics as well as giftable home items such as flowers, plants, and decorations. The other side features a full-service deli and bakery, salad bar, hot food bar, pizza counter, roast meats station, chocolate bar, sushi counter and butchery with plenty of selection in prepared meals for those on the fly. Though the opening of Bristol Farms has sparked a heated strike with its non-union standing in the very labor-supported San Francisco, it still attracts a constant flow of shoppers, tourists and foodies.
The Food Emporium brings a welcome accessibility to good dining options in its prime downtown location. Be sure to make your way through the whole concourse to decide what type of cuisine you’re craving, because Westfield will most surely offer whatever it might be.
San Francisco Soup Company
Melt Gelato & Crepe Café
by Gloria Tai on Feb 08, 2007
The scene at the Food Emporium, Photo Credits: Tim Baumann
Cakes at Bristol Farms