I like the idea behind this place, though the execution is sometimes flawed. Avoid the store brand baked goods at all costs. They are undelicious. For those that read Jim Leff's eloquent essay on Panera in Chow Alert #77 (hang your head in shame if you haven't, it's the modern day equivelant of Thomas Paine's Common Sense), this is the Panera concept come to the upscale market. The Italian bread was not at all as crusty as it looks. The taste and texture of the inside were remniscent of diet American white bread. I couldn't resist buying the still warm apple strudel. It was definitively un-appley and distincly un-strudely. The less said about the raisins in it, the better. The truly disturbing part is that both the bread and the strudel were chock full of good ingredients-- no partially-hydrogenated or high fructose anything. One of them even had organic flour.
There are some other problems, too. On this same visit some of the cartons of milk were partially frozen. This was a huge turnoff on buying anything from the dairy case.
There's no reason you shouldn't come here for other things though. You should be ok with the the packaged goods. They have a much better selection than the small health food stores on the Island. The have a good selection of meats, with a lot of it hormone and antibiotic free. Fruit and veggies are hit or miss. I got some great organic broccoli, but could not find a single head of garlic that was not dried out. The malt balls that I got from the bulk section were great. On the down side they cost 9 bucks a pound and use some wierd natural chocolate. You may need to try them a few times to fully appreciate them.
I have to admit, I've only been to this place 3 times, so I don't have the whole picture yet. Has anyone else had either a good or bad experience at this place?
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