A First Look Inside Foodparc, NYC

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Foodparc is not quite as big and grandiose as it looks from the outside.

If this era coming up has a theme, it might be the Era of Food Courts. They seem to be popping up everywhere.

Todd English opened one recently in the basement of the Plaza Hotel, Limelight Marketplace was planned with a food court in mind, Chelsea Market seems to be slowly turning into one, and, if you scrape away the groceries, what is Eataly but a big, upscale food court?

The idea, I guess, is that rather than adopting the culinary point of view a restaurant requires, a food court can accommodate any yen that one has. The newest, wackiest, and most cynical is Foodparc, occupying some prime real estate along Sixth Avenue just south of Herald Square. It's implanted in the Eventi Hotel without having any physical connection with it. It's much smaller inside than the grandiose signage suggests.

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Wait! Did I wander into the Apple Store?

The place is based on several gimmicks. One is that everything must be paid for by credit card. Another is that there are no cashiers, per se -- your first contact is with a computer touch-screen. Like all touch screens, these can be persnickety, especially if your hands are already coated with grease. During the first week of opening, the screens were acting up, of course, though there was a crowd of perky attendants ready to help you.

There are four main counters, plus a bar (how does a place like this score a liquor license so fast, one wonders?) dispensing four main classes of viands: 3Bs is a burger joint, with pedigreed patties and a sideline in BLTs and grilled cheese sandwiches; Fornetti specializes in sandwiches that look like folded-up pizzas; Red Farm Stand, though it evokes fresh fruits and vegetables, mainly sells neighborhood-y Chinese food like egg rolls and dumplings, but with newfangled twists; while The Press sells an ungainly combination of juices, candy, notions, and newspapers, and may function as the hotel's newsstand. The bar is simply a bar.

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