We have all spent countless hours at the mall. In Kuwait’s blistering summer heat, it is an especially appealing place given the sweet refuge of air conditioning. Inevitably, at some point or other during one’s mall-adventures you are bound to hear your stomach growl and realize it is time to eat.
The last place on your mind to satiate this hunger, however, is that mall’s food court. If you’re a self-proclaimed gourmet or foodie then the food court is not just the last place you think of, it does not even come close to your radar! This is a place you begrudgingly go to when you are either pressed for time or you are on the move with a family of three small children who all want something different to eat. This is a place with bright fluorescent lights, loud mall noises, white plastic chairs, and your typical fast-food selections. This is a place where décor, ambiance, and cuisine take a backseat to convenience and plastic.
We can all agree that 360 MALL is stunning – it has a unifying luxury that blends together in tones of ivory, gold, and mahogany. However, their previous food court didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the mall. This is why, when we first heard that 360 MALL was revamping their food court, we could not imagine what that entailed. What could be different? How could it possibly stand out from other regular food courts in Kuwait? The selection of restaurants, perhaps?
So, dear readers, at 11:00 a.m. on a balmy Wednesday morning, we took the escalator up to the first floor of 360 MALL and arrived at their all-new Food Lounge to see for ourselves what these changes entailed. With one quick panning glance, the expected became the unexpected.
Turning left after coming off the escalator, the first thing we noticed was the the wide open space that lay before us. Rather than looking like a hallway of food stalls, the area opened up like a well-lit stage, and harsh right angles replaced with organic grooves and curves that seamlessly merged and mingled to deliver the sense of being in an expansive space.
Previously, the lighting had shone down from static spots on the ceiling, causing half the area to lie in shadow and the other to bluntly absorb the light. Now, light fixtures all along the newly paneled ceiling bring warmth that streams throughout the entire area, illuminating everything while remaining gentle on the eyes. These changes mean that the Food Lounge has no particular beginning, as it seamlessly blends into the surrounding area.
As we walked past the restaurants, we noticed that each tenant location was not only just revamped for a more spacious feel, but they also had refurbished the space to artfully blend into their surroundings and match the neighboring restaurants – with tones and finishings that exude an air of fine rather than fast-casual dining concepts. Variety is of course not compromised, as places to grab a quick bite to eat include the likes of Marble Slab, China Garden, Chili Pepper, and Skillet, just to name a few.
It does not stop there, however. Walking down this clean and spacious area, you eventually stroll towards the crown jewel of the new 360 MALL Food Lounge: The garden area.
The off-white cobblestone pathways wind and turn through this lush green area as lamps hang low from the ceiling casting a warm light throughout. Earthy tones and dark wooden paneling compliment the vertical gardens and winding green vines to create an al fresco dining feel. It escapes your mind that you are in a mall at all, as you feel transported to the streets of Florence for an out-door in-door experience. French botanist Patrick Blanc’s vertical gardens (walls of greenery) are not just stunningly lush and beautiful, but they are very much alive and glistening with moisture. Then, in the center of the garden-themed seating, reaching 10 meters high, stands a dark and shimmering central waterfall that adds the sound of running water to complete the garden experience.
Once you have taken in the beautiful scenery, you can then choose where to eat from a variety of options ranging from gourmet burgers, to all-American classics, New York City chocolate, and traditional grills. Walking along the pathways of dozens of new branches we suddenly realized that the Food Lounge was an experience in and of itself. Here, you could enjoy a relaxing meal in an almost serene-like ambiance.
Another worthy point of mention is that the all new Food Lounge is practical as well as beautiful. Come here with your family and you have quick and easy access to the entertainment area just upstairs and the cinema around the corner. The new layout made it easy to scan the perimeter and see the 26 dining concepts, including fast food chains, full service restaurants, and confectionary stations available– something for every picky eater in the family.
360 MALL has succeeded in changing the reputation of the food court concept. By making sure that décor and sophistication were not lost to practicality, the Food Lounge has become a must-see destination rather than an obligation. Next time you are at the 360 MALL, take a walk along those cobblestone paths and experience fine-dining in the least expected place.
Photography by Yousef Al Nasser, @yousefcam on Instagram.