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Dining Under Westfield Annapolis Mall’s New Sea

Newly renovated food court feeds imagination as well as hunger

Photo by Cassi Whitehead

A few years back, my visits to Westfield Annapolis Mall’s food court involved a game. I could not step on the squares of yellow tiles that mingled with the white, or they would explode beneath me. The white tiles were always safe, but the explosiveness of the blue and black tiles varied with my mood. I created the game because the food court seemed to need my help. The food court had restaurants, quarter vending machines for candy and toys and the escalator to Bow Tie Cinema, but no imagination.

            The new food court is a change, a bright, vivacious gathering place that creates an atmosphere all its own.

            It has a theme, Under the Sea, which draws you in. Silver metal discs looking like schools of fish hang from huge circular mobiles above the entranceway. The court is awash with calming whites, grays and blues in its seating and faux-wood floor tiles. Gone are the school cafeteria-esque wooden lacquered tables and chairs; in their place are varieties of seating, from café-like raised tables and chairs to tabletops connected to cushioned booths. Smaller tables with sea creatures on them stand at the perfect height for children and are accommodating for their parents as well. Countertop-styled tables are perfect for a quick sit-down meal.

            As for food, those seeking familiarity will find mainstays like Chick-fil-A, Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Panda Express. The Sushi Bar of Sarku Japan is also in the same place, though there’s now a Sarku Japan restaurant with different offerings elsewhere in the food court. In between Chick-fil-A and Panda Express, you can find Smoke Rattle & Roll, a barbecue restaurant with delicious savory offerings, and Poke Bowlrrito, a fusion place that offers both traditional Japanese dishes like ramen and personalized poke bowls.

            If you have a taste for pizza, the food court now offers it, with Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza taking residence between Sarku Japan and returning Charley’s Philly Steaks. On the other side of Charley’s, Mezeh Mediterranean Grill is also returning, and Holy Chicken is arriving with unique food new to Westfield.

            Light fixtures add to the atmosphere. Lightbulbs, each one surrounded by a circle of metal, float in the air together like clouds of bubbles beneath the water. Other hanging lights are lit from the bases, reflecting patterns onto the white ceiling. The best source of light for the food court, however, is the sun itself, shining in from the large windows that make up the ceiling. The glass reaches upward like a roof, with black metal supports giving it structure and order.

            Walking through the food court is like a breath of fresh air. Even though seating has increased, the area feels like it has more open space where you can walk around. Groups of tables are separated by easily traversed paths that lead from one side of the food court to the other. The escalator to Bow Tie Cinemas on the second floor is still in the same location, but it’s less bulky thanks to its new design now incorporating the tiles of the food court around it.

            Some ways in front of the escalator, surrounded by ropes reaching from ceiling to floor, is a new sitting lounge. Comfy leather booth chairs line the circular inside, with round wooden tables close by. One table in the center of the lounge looks like a boat’s porthole, with yellow metal chairs pushed in beneath it.

            Even the bathrooms have gotten a makeover. The stalls are much larger and allow for more privacy than before. Next to the marble sinks is a painted sea creature. The sinks themselves are all hands-free. Instead of placing unsightly drains right beneath the faucet, the new sinks are more like sloped troughs, with water draining off to the side.

            Before, I wouldn’t think twice about the Annapolis Mall food court and the time I’d spent there. Now the food court is unforgettable, and I look forward to spending more time in the open, appealing sea atmosphere.