Passing the rows of shopping carts, I fumbled for my membership card and walked through the arch. A smile and nod from a beaming greeter eased my trepidation.
"Welcome to Costco!"
I continued through the maze of widescreen TVs and felt so exceptional the absence of valet parking was quickly forgiven.
An ample variety of appetizers were scattered along the path to the dining room. Guests strolled freely between tables set up in the grocery area, mimicking a society cocktail party.
Although the portions were small, the bites were packed with flavor.
A spoonful of turkey chili, served from a crockpot, had a brazen southwest authenticity. A hint of cilantro and smoked paprika added extra flavor. If I were to take some home, I'd add sharp cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.
Next, I sampled a handful of trail mix served in a muffin cup. My taste buds were pleasantly tickled with the perfect combination of almonds, shredded coconut, dried apricots, and chocolate chips. I declined seconds, as not to ruin my appetite.
A bite-sized spinach square topped off my trifecta of amuse-bouche. Baked to perfection in a toaster over, this lightly crisped pastry tasted like it just fell off the boat from Athens.
The servers, many of whom doubled as chefs, were friendly and brimming with product knowledge.
"Feta?" I asked a young lady serving the spanakopita.
"Yes, sir," she replied, "With a hint of parsley."
Unlike restaurants of similar caliber, the appetizers were bottomless, complimentary, and available for purchase.
The Court - Mood for Food
Scooting though the checkout line unencumbered, I reached the atrium that housed the food court. Open air and spacious, the ambiance was palatial.
As it was Tuesday afternoon, seating was at half capacity. Busy weekends would surely find availability more difficult to secure.
The tables were of the plastic picnic variety, but well spaced to allow room for an overstuffed cart or stroller of triplets. A few even had umbrellas to simulate the atmosphere of an outdoor family reunion.
The high ceiling combined with boisterous conversation made for a tad more volume and echo than I prefer, but within the range of tolerability.
The menu hung on the wall in full view, allowing for easy reflection of the items. Prices were included in the description as to avoid surprises at checkout.
The tempting aroma of all beef dogs and Italian pies drifted through the air. And all but masked the strong scent of rubber floating in from the adjacent tire showroom.
The Main Course - Polish Sausage Paired with Lemonade
The main menu was unpretentious. Items included:
- Cesar salad
- Hot dog or polish sausage
- Pizza slice
- Chicken bake
The line snapped along quickly as I gazed at the menu board. The tantalizing picture of the polish dog combo beckoned. And at a price of $1.50, I could not resist.The link was swaddled in a bun and passed over the counter with tenderness normally not seen outside a maternity ward. I held pure culinary perfection in my hand: symmetrical, aromatic and tantalizing.
A complimentary side of sauerkraut came with the entrée. The thinly sliced cabbage was presented in a petite plastic cup, similar to those used in Jello shots.
Adjacent to the counter were additional toppings. I delivered a light trail of diced onions and relish by cranking the handle on a mechanical condiment dispenser.
Mustard and ketchup, pumped from oversized tubs, completed the delicacy.
For beverage, a cup was provided to use at the fountain station. Upon seeing lemonade, I stepped up and pushed the lever. The citrus drink spilled into the Styrofoam goblet flawlessly, which I then capped and inserted with a straw.
I hustled to a table.
The polish dog was custom made for a hearty appetite, as the link extended well beyond the length of the bun. With many eateries reducing product, Costco's hearty approach was a welcome surprise.
The sausage had the special combination of spices and seasoning. The bite packed enough heat to tantalize, but not so much as to ignite a five- alarm fire.
The sauerkraut added an old-world flavor that had me convinced I was at a country inn on the outskirts of Warsaw.
A symphony of fine taste!
All in all, the Costco food court offered an outstanding culinary experience that made both my belly and wallet smile. I highly recommend this culinary gem the next time you're departing from the warehouse facility.
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