Whole Foods on P Street NW
Posted 27 May 2007 - 03:23 PM
1. RATS - yes rats! I walked in yesterday to grab breakfast. In the vestibule area where they keep the shopping carts as I approached the automatic door, a large urban bunny scurried from behind the basil plants on the right, diving over to hide behind the big display of corn on sale on the left....needless to say, I did not buy the corn, wondering if that had anything to do with the fact it was on sale.
2. GLOW-IN-THE-DARK GRITS AT THE BREAKFAST BAR - A couple of months ago, they started adding what I suppose is cheese to the grits in the breakfast bar - variety however is unknown. It imparts no cheese taste - in fact, it makes it taste starchy - and is a neon orange color other that is decidedly not cheddar. (Not to mention that it's usually too soupy).
3. NO ICE IN THE FISH DEPARTMENT - WF has stopped presenting its fish on ice and instead it just lies on stainless steel trays. Maybe its psychological but I don't think it looks as fresh and it seems to dry out the cuts.
4. QUESTIONABLE SOURCE FOR FRESH CRAB MEAT - (not to mention the aforementioned offense of not keeping it packed on ice). I bought a $35 tub of jumbo lump the other day and while it looked like blue crab, it did not taste like blue crab and had terrible texture and flavor.
5. ROTTEN OKRA - I tried to point this out to one of the produce stockers a while back who then tried to explain to me that this was just the way this particular variety looked. I asked to speak to the produce manager and explained to him (as only a southerner could) that no variety of okra I've ever seen is limp and turning black. It got better for a while, but we're back to the rotten variety.
6. ESCALATION OF PRECUT FRUIT PRICES - I used to buy a small container of cut up fruit in the morning for breakfast back when it cost about $1.50 less. But the prices kept going up. So I compared the cost of the smallest container of cantelope to the price of an actual cantelope and they were almost exactly the same. Takes 5 minutes or less to cut up my own cantelope which is what I now do and it lasts the whole week....
7. UNIMAGINATIVE PREPARED FOODS - i've lived in this neighborhood for 5+ years and it's still the same old same old. I can't eat any of it anymore. It all looks the same and none of it's particularly unique or good - especially when compared with Balducci's or Dean and Deluca.
8. THE HOT FOOD BAR MIGHT AS WELL BE A PIG SLOP - It looks disgusting - the entrees and vegetables also don't compliment each other most of the time. And if you get desperate and decide to try it anyway, it's bland and the fish or chicken or whatever is being served is always dry.
9. IZAKAYA IS UNIMPRESSIVE - Was Tom Sietsema on drugs when he did his recent review??? This is the new sushi/teriyaki bar. Once you get past the decor which is interesting, and the white jacketed cooks, it's all down hill. the sushi isn't any better than what they sell freshly made in the case in the actual store, the chicken teriyaki doesn't come with rice unless you pay extra and it's kind of sweet tasting, they don't cut up the vegetables into bit sized chunks and so you're stuck trying to shove an entire broccoli floret in your mouth, and the tempura batter and oversized pieces are just plain disappointing. Add to that it's all served on plastic whether you eat there or not and you're better off going elsewhere.
Thank's for reading the long rant. If you have anything to add, please do. I don't mind paying a premium for premium quality and convenience but with the quality going down hill and the lines as long as they are, I've about reached the point of a permanent boycott.
Posted 29 May 2007 - 06:44 AM
I wonder if they're finding that the hard-working, hard-partying (time-pressed, money-flushed?) yuppies that run that particular zip code are more willing to slap down big bucks for mediocre prepared food than for excellent fresh fish, and have adjusted their marketing and displays accordingly.
Thinking about the government.
Posted 29 May 2007 - 09:02 AM
Eventually, something's gotta give!
Posted 29 May 2007 - 09:31 AM
The major problem is market pressure. I may be slightly less perturbed than others by the kind of Holier Than Thou attitudes that John Mackey represents to many eGullet members, and I rarely eat meals vegans do. Yet, Whole Foods seems to be compromising its original mission at the same time that it is trying to respond to the critique of Omnivore's Dilemma by getting back to the garden. The center cannot hold. (Insert your own pop song-literary allusion here.)
The fact that Trader Joe's is snipping at the heels of Whole Foods is behind a lot of the changes I've witnessed at other locations. While I've never visited Wegman's, I've been told there's a whole lot of prepared food going on that isn't that good.
Food doesn't have to be the same old same old if your supermarket has a wide variety of fresh, seasonal produce, seafood, meat, poultry, cheeses, imported oils, etc., etc. for you to buy at one convenient location. You just have to know what they are and what to do with them.
Other problems inherent in current trends are 1) the unfortunate ignorance of both employees at Whole Foods and their customers when it comes to seasonality, quality and the fundamentals of cooking and 2) the reluctance of both groups to try scary new things.
I say, to hell with teaching nursery rhymes, Latin and Advanced Trig in public school. Start them young with cooking. Teach them how to shop. Make geography and econ culinary. Feed them empanadas after they've declined their Spanish verbs.
ETA: In part this a long-winded way of agreeing with JohnL, though I do think the fancy spirals of marianated stuff fish and meat, the pre-fab fruit salads, etc. are at odds with what drew me to WF in the first place.
As far as D.C. locations go, the Georgetown/Glover Park store seems preferable to the others. However, do note that cut fruit requires labor and the high price of fuel is going to affect a whole lot more that you buy. Wait until peach season to gauge the effect of this year's strange weather and the damage inflicted on so many orchards. Go to Safeway, Giant, etc. It won't be WF alone.
Edited by Pontormo, 29 May 2007 - 09:42 AM.
The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath
Posted 29 May 2007 - 11:51 AM
They know their market, especially in a downtown location. Do you know how hard it is to prep a pineapple at the office? How how long it might take one person to finish a watermelon? I can't get that worked up about WF selling cut fruit. I just hope the containers are recyclable. Some of their prepared food containers aren't, and that's a shame.
Since when is pre-cut fruit whole food?
Edited by hjshorter, 29 May 2007 - 11:52 AM.
In Good Thyme
Posted 30 May 2007 - 08:23 AM
I agree. Cut fruit serves a good purpose, especially for people who want something quick and don't have the immediate resources to cut up a variety of fruit or melons and more challenging fruits. I won't say it's better than potato chips , but it's certainly healthier.They know their market, especially in a downtown location. Do you know how hard it is to prep a pineapple at the office? How how long it might take one person to finish a watermelon? I can't get that worked up about WF selling cut fruit. I just hope the containers are recyclable. Some of their prepared food containers aren't, and that's a shame.
Since when is pre-cut fruit whole food?
A couple of years ago when we were renovating and didn't have a kitchen for 6 months+, I bought precut fruit at Whole Foods pretty regularly (though I did most of my shopping at the erstwhile Landmark/Pinecrest location). We didn't even have a water source on the main floor of our house, so just washing fresh fruit was a pain. It was their precut fruit and anything that could be peeled.
I also bought a fair amount of their prepared food, which I haven't done before or since, and it filled our needs adequately at the time.
Even though I live in the district, I've shopped at the P Street store probably no more than half a dozen times since it opened. I hate the drive over there, and taking metro halfway across the city with any quantity of groceries is impractical. Each of the times I've gone, I've found it less satisfactory than the previous times. Hearing accounts like this doesn't make me want to rush over there.
Edited by PatDC, 30 May 2007 - 08:24 AM.