Shop, Stop and Eat
Where to go for sublime sustenance in KOP.
If you took all the soda sold each year at King of Prussia’s Court and Plaza, it would fill five Olympic-sized swimming pools. All the meals served would feed every fan at every home Sixers game for seven seasons. We don’t have a Hewlett Packard HP 50g handy to calculate the annual calorie intake—and frankly, we don’t want to know.
The point is, materialistic pursuits require stamina. Walking every corridor and every aisle of both buildings—2.85 million square feet—is the equivalent of walking across Manhattan. Looping just the Plaza, from Sears and back, is .53 miles. Throw in the second level and an armful of packages, and it all adds up to one big pain in the, um, body.
So why not take a load off—or tie one on—and indulge in some of the fine fuel offered up by the consumption gods. And while you’re at it, grab a restaurant gift card—or six. They’ll come in handy on
In the Mall:
Tucked away behind the home section (a Christmas gift shop fit for royalty this time of year), Neiman’s signature eatery is the essence of simple elegance. White tablecloths, neutral colors and a hushed, unhurried ambiance make lunch feel indulgent. A popular site for charity luncheons, fashion shows and power lunches, it’s the ultimate spot for a meal with the ladies or that significant other.
The Zodiac’s staff prides itself on providing a relaxing escape. But some of us still have to watch the clock, which means a luxe lunch won’t fit into our shopping schedule. No worries, though. There is plenty of room at the coffee bar, where you’ll get the same courteous treatment, but at a faster pace. Regardless of where you sit and what you order, don’t deny yourself the complimentary popovers, a symphony of light, flaky, chewy, crusty, buttery and egg-y flavors—like a croissant, only bigger and better.
For a good dose of comfort food, the turkey meatloaf with mashed potatoes and mushroom jus is satisfying, hearty but not weighty and ideal for a cold winter day. The smoked chicken quesadilla, a nice balance of protein and carbs, is a good option if you want something that will fill you up without slowing you down. The composed salads are brimming with color and texture and lots of yummy proteins (chicken, grilled salmon, jumbo lump crab, shrimp and roast turkey). If you’ve got a hankering for something a little more substantial, the grilled salmon BLT, made with pepper bacon and tarragon mayo and served on black bread, and the crispy-fried oyster sandwich, served on a baguette with chipotle mayonnaise—both with shoestring fries—are the bomb.
Tip: You can make reservations for parties of seven or more. If you don’t have a Neiman’s card, bring your Amex or cash. MasterCard and Visa are a no-go.
Plan on a long wait, but expect some pretty darn good food—and a lot of it. The firecracker salmon rolls are light, crispy and packed with heat. Ditto the Thai lettuce wraps, a colorful mix of satay chicken strips, carrots, bean sprouts, coconut curry noodles and lettuce leaves, with spicy peanut, red chili and tamarind-cashew sauces for added kick. Waist watchers will appreciate the “weight management salads,” all fewer than 590 calories and high in protein.
Despite the unfortunate name, the Cheesecake Factory is surprisingly contemporary—and the bar’s top-shelf offerings are a classy touch. Experienced groupies suggest arriving at least two hours before your stomach starts to squawk; even on slower shopping days, lunch waits can be up to 45 minutes. If you detest crowds, go for Sunday brunch (served until 2 p.m.). Then come back to sample the rest of the menu in January.
Tip: Lunch specials ($7.95-$12.95) are served until 5 p.m.; breakfast all day. Don’t over-order, or you’ll be stuck carrying bags of food around.
California Pizza Kitchen
This casual Asian/Italian/Mexican-inspired eatery is perfect for families looking to take a break without breaking the bank. There are plenty of intriguing pizzas on the menu to satisfy more adventurous appetites, including the vegetarian with Japanese eggplant, made on hearty honey-wheat dough with loads of veggies (roasted corn—yum) and the Jamaican jerk chicken with applewood smoked bacon, onions, roasted bell peppers and a spicy-sweet Caribbean sauce.
Among the 11 salad combinations is the Tricoloré, a caramelized pizza crust topped with three types of lettuce, tomatoes and Parmesan with rosemary chicken, salmon or shrimp add-ons. The eatery’s menu was recently amended, so be sure to ask about the crab cake appetizer, miso salad and other new dishes.
Tip: A good pit stop for vegetarians. And savvy moms can save a few bucks by giving teens a pre-loaded CPK card to use during their holiday shopping outings (instead of the cash they’ll blow at Starbucks).
Bistro Sensations and Tuscany Pizza Market
You may not have noticed, but we’re sitting in the lap of food-court luxury here. Everything in the Plaza’s second-level food court (except Master Wok) is owned and operated by Siganos Management, a company championed by all the nation’s upper-crust mall moguls. The KOP crowd seems to have an endless craving for Tuscany’s thin-crust brick-oven pizzas, home-style pastas (like the seafood pasta pictured above) and enormous salads. Try the Chicken Formaggio—romaine with provolone, Gorgonzola and Romano cheeses; red onion and roasted peppers; or the Fantasy—romaine, red onion, tomato, red cabbage, avocado, Parmesan and chicken. On Friday nights, you can get pasta, salad and gelato for $9.99.
The colorful and enticing case at Bistro Sensations is packed with eye-catching—and notably fresh-tasting (the crew starts preparing lunch items at 6:30 a.m. each morning)—wraps, quiches, gourmet sandwiches made on Le Bus bread, and so much more. The only thing you might not find here is a seat to sit down and enjoy your food.
Tip: These spots are cash only, so don’t leave home without it.
Rock Bottom Brewery
It’s the third weekend of December—and if one more salesperson tells you he doesn’t have that size or color (or, God forbid, it’s on back-order), you’re going to snap. Breathe. Yes, you’ve hit Rock Bottom. But as we all know, once you hit, the only way to go is up.
And what’s one of the fastest ways up? At Rock Bottom Brewery, it’s a cold craft brew and a warm plate of good old-fashioned comfort food. Try the Titan Toothpicks, RBB’s signature app—smoked chicken, Jack cheese, peppers and onions stuffed into hand-rolled, crispy tortillas, served with guac, sour cream, salsa and chipotle barbecue sauce. Or choose between the sizzling chipotle-spiced buffalo fajitas and the Texas fire steak, 11 ounces of Angus beef seasoned with the chef’s secret crazy pepper and served with a feisty jalapeño butter and cheddar mashed potatoes. For the ultimate in comfort, the enormous barbecued pulled pork sandwich and a side of RB malt kettle chips are the ticket.
Oh, and the house brews are mighty tasty, too.
Tip: The perfect place to take your over-aged offspring for a fun night out with Mom and Dad. And if you’re lucky, they might even ask for your ID at the door. (Talk about a great early Christmas present.)
Forget doctor’s orders. All that stress is a lot worse for you than devouring a thick, juicy cut of USDA prime aged beef (like the Cajun rib-eye pictured above). Sure, you know the steakhouse drill, but what you don’t know is that December is the only time of year Morton’s is open to the public for lunch (11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays), with à la carte and prix fixe options. And unless you plan to show up with a group of 10 or more—or want to dine in a private boardroom—reservations aren’t required.
The Colossal Shrimp Alexander, tuna tartare and center-cut iceberg salad are excellent starting points. Spice up the food with a blueberry, pomegranate or Palm Beacher Mortini, or a glass of wine from Morton’s superb cellar.
Tip: Morton’s offers complimentary filet mignon sandwiches in the bar around 5:30 p.m. each day. They also have a great gift certificate deal (buy $500, get $100 free).
California Café Bar and Grill
California Café’s yummy cocktails, trendy fare and hip, upscale-yet-casual vibe should come as welcome relief following an afternoon or evening of scavenging, swiping and schlepping. Feeling sluggish? There’s the espresso martini—sure to get your heart pumping. And nothing will help you chill out quicker than a Caribbean-esque cocktail. May we suggest CC’s mango mojito or Strawtini?
The eclectic, contemporary menu changes seasonally. Look for the beet salad with haricot vert, arugula, toasted nuts, petit Basque cheese and sherry vinaigrette; vegetable Napoleon, an earthy combination of grilled portobello mushrooms, mashed corn and scallions, edamame and tomato compote; tuna sashimi; and prosciutto-wrapped halibut; and the crab-encrusted Kona snapper (pictured above). For something light and healthy, try the beef carpaccio and arugula salad with caponata, capers and shaved Grana Padano cheese.
Tip: The exhibition kitchen is a good excuse for when your brain shuts down. You’ll know you’re spacing out, but everyone else will think you’re watching the chefs do their thing.
Outside the Mall:
Since parking at the mall will be a losing battle, you might as well stake your claim in the Champps’ lot and steady yourself with a cool Sam Adams Winter Lager, Blue Moon Belgian White or any of the 10 other brews on tap.
For maximum stamina, it’s essential to make the most of your meal. To that end, a round of Champps’ hand-breaded chicken tenders and waffle fries—or maybe a juicy, char-grilled Black Angus burger—will go down well with that beer. Or if you want to go green, the Champps Americana chopped salad—field greens tossed with grilled chicken, premium bleu cheese, honey balsamic vinaigrette, dried cranberries, applewood smoked bacon, sliced apples and candied pecans—packs a solid dose of protein, good carbs and even some fiber.
If you managed to drag your guy out on game day, rev him up at the bar with a hefty slow-roasted pulled pork barbecue sandwich, topped with Tabasco fried onions and served with potato chips and a side
Tip: Reservations are accepted Monday-Thursday, there’s call-ahead seating on weekends. Monday-Friday 5-7 p.m., all drinks at Champps are $1 off and apps are half-price.
You don’t have to be a lush to admit that one of the first things you think of when you head to the islands on vacation isn’t the food—it’s the cocktails. And pretty much the first thing you think about after a long day at the mall is … You guessed it.
So skip the non-alcoholic lemon breeze and go straight for the Painkiller (which is exactly what you’ll need when you get your credit card bill in January). Other favorite stress reducers at Bahama Breeze include the Bahama Mama (fresh-squeezed orange juice, pineapple juice, banana liqueur, Malibu and Myers’ dark rum), the pomegranate cosmopolitan (an invigorating twist on a classic) and the Mojito Cubano (cigars not included).
Once you’ve started to unwind, you’ll probably realize your stomach is growling. The fire-roasted jerk shrimp will get your adrenaline pumping again. Likewise the fried calamari, served with sofrito (a warm sauté of tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions and chorizo sausage), and the
Tip: A late-night menu makes this a good spot for a post-spree dinner.
Bahama Breeze Bistro Sensations California Café Bar and Grill
320 Goddard Blvd., (610) 491-9822, bahamabreeze.com
Locations in the Court and Plaza
The Plaza, (610) 354-8686, californiacafe.com
California Café Bar and Grill
California Pizza Kitchen
The Court, (610) 337-1500, cpk.com
330 Goddard Blvd., (610) 491-8001, champps.com
The Court, (610) 337-2200, thecheesecakefactory.com
The Court, (610) 491-1900, mortons.com
Rock Bottom Brewery
The Plaza, (610) 230-2739, rockbottom.com
Tuscany Pizza Market
Locations in the Court and Plaza
At Neiman Marcus in the Plaza; (610) 354-0500, ext. 6220