Food & Drink

Bag up your lunch at the grocery store

Morrocroft Village Harris Teeter

6701 Morrison Blvd. 704-364-1245. Hot bar weekday hours: 6:30-10 a.m. (breakfast), 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (lunch), 4-7 p.m. (dinner). Weekend brunch: 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 4-7 p.m. $5.99 per pound for lunch and brunch; $6.99 per pound for dinner. Salad bar: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; $5.99 per pound. Pasta bar: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily; $3.99. Sub station: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily; $3.99 (cold) and $4.99 (hot) for half subs; $5.99 (cold) and $6.99 (hot) for whole subs.

In my quest to eat out on the cheap, I decided to go outside the box and visit the Harris Teeter in Morrocroft Village. There are always people trolling around the food stations. What are they looking at and how good is it?

As usual, some things (corn chowder) were better than others (barbecue ribs). Nothing was terrible, although the grilled chicken sandwich came close.

But if money is tight, HT is a worthy option. I left with two bags of goodies for around $22.

There's a lot to choose from, so take the tour before settling on the first thing you see. Along one wall are subs, chicken sandwiches, cold prepared salads and the panini case. Deli and dessert cases round out the area. On the opposite side are two long buffet lines, one for hot foods, the other for the salad-and-olive bar and soup kettles. In between is the pasta station.

I hit the hot buffet, soup, pasta, chicken and dessert areas. The pasta station took the longest, but the food was made to order and tasted the freshest.

At the hot bar, I tried the barbecue ribs, mac and cheese, and rice pilaf. Once I pried the meat from the bone, the ribs had good flavor. The mac and cheese was creamy and cheesy. The rice was nothing special.

There were several types of pasta (fusilli, linguini, fettuccini) and styles of sauce (marinara, Bolognese, pancetta carbonara). You get to pick a pasta and a sauce plus two toppings (mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, onions). I went with linguini and Bolognese, and added mushrooms and Parmesan. It was OK, but the sauce needed some punch, and the linguini was long past al dente. If you've got children, they'd appreciate the simple taste.

Crab and corn chowder was the best thing I had, with a lovely sweetness. The soup also had a surprising bit of spice.

But skip the grilled chicken sandwich. It was dry, dry, dry.

If you need a chocolate fix, the five-layer Grande Finale cake slice wasn't the best chocolate cake I've had, but it was a decent option.