Pardon my language, but I have come to the conclusion that grocery shopping in Bethesda just plain sucks.
To my knowledge, shoppers have three main options (ignoring the mediocre Safeway): Giant, Fresh Fields, and Sutton Gourmet. Each of these has important deficiencies.
Let's start with Giant, pretty much your ordinary mass market grocery store. It is good for paper goods and cleaners, dried pastas, canned goods, breakfast cereals, and staples like milk, eggs, and juice. But in terms of quality fresh items, especially produce, it is a big disappointment. No chance of finding anything obscure there. I happened to wander into the new Giant on Arlington Road the evening it opened. All the suits were there, and the place looked great. They appeared to carry stuff I hadn't seen at other Giants, fresh quality goods that the place on Democracy Blvd certainly lacks. And that lasted for about a month. Then it went to being a regular old processed-turkey Giant.
Then there is Fresh Fields. Good produce, cheese. No butcher counter (at the one on River Rd), but you can usually find someone to get you a special cut from the back. But for basic goods this place is ridiculous. Good luck finding regular paper towels, hand soap, chicken broth with some fat in it (occasionally available), or reasonably priced junk food, to name a few items.
Finally, Sutton Gourmet. I have come to really dislike this store. In a pinch it comes in handy, but it is so inconsistent, and service is so lousy, that every visit is a frustrating experience. I have in mind the store on Old Georgetown Road. I've aged years waiting at the deli counter. It doesn't seem like the people who work there (if you can find one) know their way around the store. And their stock of goods is unreliable. Recently they were out of chicken breasts, of all things. I went to the store specifically for some fresh ricotta, which they usually carry, but were out of. No one knew when it would be in, and (as usual) no manager was in sight.
I long ago reconciled myself to food shopping at two stores, but it would be nice if the stores were such that this wasn't so frequent an occurrence.
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