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Holly Moore

Downingtown Wegman's Opening Sunday

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I've only had experience at the Wegman's in Ithaca NY and Manalapn NJ. They are both superb!

In Ithaca, during fresh corn season, they contract with one or more local farmers who delivers fresh-picked corn at scheduled intervals (they post them in advance at the store) at least two or three times a day. Talk about service!


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Holly, there has been a Wegman's in Lawrenceville, NJ, 45 min or less from CC Philly, for more than a year now. Now you can take your pick.

RP


Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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Just have to mention that I just this moment got back from the Manalapan Wegmans near Freehold NJ. It is about 20 minutes from me. I have mixed feelings on it. On one hand they have great prepared foods, but on the other hand does shaking a salmon filet with almond slivers justify doubling it's price per pound?

I've noticed in the year or so that they have been open they have cut back on a lot of the variety of produce, obviously they are not going to lose money on stuff they can't sell.

The most telling incident happened a few months ago when I was preparing for an eGullet event and wanted to show off the place to my ex chef brother. I was looking for blue corn chips and canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Nada. I mean c'mon! this is 2003. This ain't gourmet stuff, my local 7-11 carries it! I asked the lady stocking the ethnic canned goods area about the chipotles in adobo and she looked at me like I had 2 heads. "Is that two things your asking for?" she asked. "No" I explained, "They are canned chipotles in an adobo sauce." She then went on... "It sounds to me that you are asking for two different things..." Cripes! I held back the observation that chicken soup is like 10 different things but they still manage to get it into one can!

Ended up getting the blue chips and chipotles at a local Shop Rite.

Incidentally, am having stuffed grape leaves, balsamic marinated pickled onions, fresh herbed tomato and mozzerella salad and a bunch of other goodies from their salad bar for dinner.

Also managed to pick up a Vietnamese pig sculpture to adorn my back porch... :smile:

lawnpig.jpg


=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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Out of curiosity, since I'm a left-coast lad with plans to move to the East in a few months, I checked the obvious to see if Wegmans had a website. The obvious was, of course, www.wegmans.com and it was right on target.

Something else to add to my list of places to look forward to!


We'll not discriminate great from small.

No, we'll serve anyone - meaning anyone -

And to anyone at all!

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Out of curiosity, since I'm a left-coast lad with plans to move to the East in a few months, I checked the obvious to see if Wegmans had a website.  The obvious was, of course, www.wegmans.com and it was right on target.

Something else to add to my list of places to look forward to!

Considering the state of most supermarkets hereabouts, you might instruct your realtor to locate you within a reasonable drive of a Wegmans.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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The most telling incident happened a few months ago when I was preparing for an eGullet event and wanted to show off the place to my ex chef brother.  I was looking for blue corn chips and canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce.  Nada.  I mean c'mon!  this is 2003.  This ain't gourmet stuff, my local 7-11 carries it!  I asked the lady stocking the ethnic canned goods area about the chipotles in adobo and she looked at me like I had 2 heads.  "Is that two things your asking for?" she asked.  "No" I explained, "They are canned chipotles in an adobo sauce."  She then went on...  "It sounds to me that you are asking for two different things..."  Cripes!  I held back the observation that chicken soup is like 10 different things but they still manage to get it into one can!

Mark, it's such a big store, and my WEgman's has the Chipoltes both by the chips, and by the pickles. Anyway, e-mail the website with any specific product inquiries, the local store manager will e-mail you back location, delivery, etc.

For those of you considering going on opening day...DO! Yes, crowded, yes, overwhelming...but the party atmospherre is warranted..you've got a NEW Wegman's in town! REally, I almost wish for the first time I walked into Wegman's to be repeated..cause its been so long since I felt that "I'm in DISNEYLAND" feeling since being a real live adult, if you know what I mean.

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Out of curiosity, since I'm a left-coast lad with plans to move to the East in a few months, I checked the obvious to see if Wegmans had a website.  The obvious was, of course, www.wegmans.com and it was right on target.

Something else to add to my list of places to look forward to!

Considering the state of most supermarkets hereabouts, you might instruct your realtor to locate you within a reasonable drive of a Wegmans.

Speaking of fancy supermarkets, if you guys ever happen to get to Texas, don't miss a chance to stop in a Central Market. We went to the one in Dallas, and holy moly.... If Wegman's is like that, then more power to them.

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Central Market still has Wegmans beat. CM has no vestigial "traditional supermarket" aspect to it like all the Wegmans I've experienced. Imagine chopping all the flourescent asiles of General Mills and Proctor and Gamble products off of a Wegmans and replacing them with more small-producer specialty type stuff, and a better fish section, and a better butcher, and much much much more developed bulk stuff section.

CM is almost purely about food (though they have some stuff like soaps and vitamins and herbal supplements and such), while Wegmans is place you can go to stock up on toilet paper and toothpaste and such.

What I miss about the CMs is the promotional introductions of lots of the smaller producers' stuff... they used to offer great products at excellent intro prices. Wegmans doesn't appear to be doing that. Maybe a artifact of marketing decisions... maybe they think Texans need to be given a chance to try off-the-beaten-path stuff cheap, while us sophisticated yankees will pay full price to test it. I also miss all the tastings that CM did that I've not experienced at Wegmans.


Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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We went to Wegmans on opening day. Somewhat disappointing though fun nonetheless. Obviously, very very crowded -- we had to wait just to snag a cart. We took one picture of the inside, then were told that pictures were not allowed.

There were some food samples, but I thought that there should have been abundantly more, and it seemed like the sample servers were not even cognizant of the throngs of people who were waiting for samples. Others around me made similar comments. Asked about the quality of the apples, and a worker went on to describe the apples in glorifying detail, but never offered to cut one in half.

Prices of Wegman branded products were quite good, and there were some specials (like Coca Cola), to entice the crowd to buy. Overall selection, of course, was better than your average grocery store, but each individual ethnic section did not have a better selection than the independent ethnic stores I frequent (I shop at the Korean market, East Indian, and Chinatown grocers).

Produce was similarly priced to other mainstream grocers, but definitely more than our favorite produce spot (the Korean market at 611 and Cheltenham). One interesting item in the produce section: the $499 (no decimal) per pound black truffles, in the mushroom section, locked in a clear case. Excellent fish selection.

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I took the 30 min drive out to Wegman's today...it was pretty worth it.

The produce prices were terrific:

Avocados (including a selection of ripe ones) were 4 for $5, there were navel oranges 4 for $1, white asparagus at $2.99/lb (compare to $4 or $5/lb at Fresh Grocer), tomatoes on the vine for $1.99/lb....(Only disappointment--they didn't have ramps)

On the other hand, I thought the fish was WAY overpriced:

Bluefin tuna at $23.99/lb, snapper at $16.99/lb, etc.

and there wasn't an amazing meat selection as I'd hoped.

The cheese was very pricey as well.

But the selection of baked goods, olives, as well as all the things I mentioned above was really great. And the service was super-friendly and very helpful. If I wasn't a poor grad student, I'll probably go there constantly.


Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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As noted in my earlier message, I'm a fan of Wegmans. That said, for those who've expressed at least a tad of concern regarding their prices, keep in mind that if you live, work or are within striking distance of Center City Philadelphia, there is always the Reading Terminal Market. Much more reasonable prices on fish, as well as on produce.

For example, one writer noted Wegman's offered four avocados for $5; at Iovine's at the Reading Terminal, there were $1 apiece this past Saturday. The fish prices at the RTM also tend to be a bit more competitive. One item that I used to rely on Wegmans to provide -- dry scallops -- were not available at the RTM. They are now at Golden Seafood at $9.99 a pound. Last time I bought them at Wegmans (more than two years ago, so the comparison can hardly be relied up) they were $13 or $14 a pound.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Since I had a few errands to run today on the western Main Line, I decided to go scope out the Wegman's for myself. Ohmigosh! This store is amazing! First of all, let me point out that I am so unaccustomed to friendly and helpful store personnel that I call the local Acme the "Smack-me" market, because the help is so rude. I felt like I was in the Stepford Grocery. Every single employee was glowingly helpful, asked if I needed any assistance or would like to taste anything, etc. WTF???? :blink: This has never happened anywhere I have shopped before, and that was a pleasure unto itself. The produce selections were well priced, surprisingly deep in representation, and very fresh. They had FIDDLEHEAD FERNS, ferchissakes! I bought two lovely containers of raspberries for $4.00, a bag of baby carrots for $1.00 and a package of Sugar Snap peas for $2.00. Fabulous. Great price on my favorite Stonyfield Farms yogurts as well. Fabulous fresh bakery. Bought a loaf of whole grain bread that is just as good as anything I've had from Metropolitan or Le Bus. The cheese section is phenomenal and the prepared foods (while not inexpensive) make Whole Paycheck look like a Third World delicatessen. I purchased a pre-marinated (Lemon-Garlic) Turkey Breast London Broil for less than $4.00 and brought it home and seared it and finished it in the oven. It was juicy and delicious and will make for several good lunches this week as well as tonight's dinner with the steamed baby carrots and sugar snap peas. I also found two gorgeous marbly steaks on special that I have wrapped up and frozen for later this week or next weekend. The Oriental Buffet (@$5.99/lb.) was incredible and I purchased a small container of various selections for lunch. The food was as good or better than many Chinese/Thai restaurants I've paid far more for entrees at. The Thai Shrimp with Red Curry was a real standout. The buffet was very crowded, but now I know why. The food is REALLY good!

I can hardly wait for a Wegman's to open a little closer to the city. My understanding is that King of Prussia and Cherry Hill are both on line for within one year. I can totally see myself becoming a very regular shopper there. For now I will make the schlep to Downingtown infrequently, but with big receipts! Well worth the drive for the quality and selection.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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.....

One item that I used to rely on Wegmans to provide -- dry scallops -- were not available at the RTM. They are now at Golden Seafood at $9.99 a pound. Last time I bought them at Wegmans (more than two years ago, so the comparison can hardly be relied up) they were $13 or $14 a pound.

I believe they were $11.99 a pound at the Downingtown Wegman's last week.


-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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Katie--am I to infer you and your foodie self have never been to a Wegmans before, never made the drive to the by now "old" Princeton store to check them out? I'm shocked, shocked I say, but welcome you to the higher plane of supermarket reality. From the reports so far, I sense some criticism/comparisons of Wegmans with respect to price. That's not primarily what Wegmans is about--if you shop price primarily--don't go to Wegmans. You won't get it. Wegmans is about depth of selection, variety, quality--sustained across all categories--that is fairly priced based on that sustained depth, variety and quality--all offered under one roof--and as Katie elaborated on--with wonderful, attentive, encouraging customer service.

(I haven't ever been to CM, but since logistically it's not anywhere near the East coast, that's a comparison for the future.)

Against its competition in this marketplace, most notably Whole Foods, Wegmans is an unparalleled combination of depth, variety, quality and price. Mark, I'm saddened by your local Wegmans experience, perhaps that store is not supported by the community to the extent the Princeton store is? We've had other threads where variability within a chain has been noted--especially within Whole Foods.

That said Katie, you did not mention whether this particular store has an in-house Herme pastry program, like Princeton? If not, that's a terrible loss for patrons of this store. Indeed, any Wegmans without the Herme pastry kitchen and boutique would be too depressing for me to shop at and earn my eternal enmity.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I'm of the opinion that a first visit to Wegmans should be the treated the same as a first visit to a city. It takes a few days (or return trips) to understand the place. It's best just to walk around a bit, getting a feel for what it has to offer. And if you get lost, don't be afraid to ask a local for help.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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Since I'm a Cherry Hill-billy, I had to find out a bit more info about Wegman's plans for my area. Looks like they're planning two stores. One in a (We have room for another shopping center?!)

And one as part of the Cherry Hill town center project (aka Garden State Racetrack).

I've never been in a Wegmans either, but it'll be nice to have an option to Fresh/Whole Foods. Do they carry organic and grass-fed meats?

p.s. If you're reading this...Hi Rosemary!

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That said Katie, you did not mention whether this particular store has an in-house Herme pastry program, like Princeton? If not, that's a terrible loss for patrons of this store. Indeed, any Wegmans without the Herme pastry kitchen and boutique would be too depressing for me to shop at and earn my eternal enmity.

Steve:

You're right. My secret is out. I had not ever been to Wegman's before. And alas - I did not notice if there was a pastry section or not. Since it is something I and my waistline are actively avoiding, I didn't go out of my way to find that department. The beautiful marinated goat cheeses and cheese based savories in the cheese section were enough to cause the inevitable Pavlovian reaction for me.

I agree that price isn't the factor at Wegman's, although I thought the quality and depth of selection made the cost differential (when there was one) well worth the cost of admission. I don't often spend $8.99/lb. on steaks, and when I do, it's usually at the butcher shop - either Harry Och's at Reading Terminal, or Sonny D'Angelo down at the Italian market. The steaks I bought yesterday were a special that was being marked down because it was the last "sell by" date. Definitely a bargain and they went right into the freezer. Some of the produce was priced below other supermarkets and the quality was inifinitely better. The raspberries are PERFECT - and about 1/2" across each. Yes, the produce at the Italian Market or Reading Terminal may be cheaper, but it's bruised (or worse) and not as esthetically perfect as the produce at Wegman's. Depends what I want it for. If I'm making a pear cobbler, then I'll happily go to the Italian market and buy a baket of them for $3.00 in season. If I want to slice them and have them with some cheese and wine or just eat them out of hand, I'd much rather buy them at Wegman's. I believe we eat with our eyes too and "pretty" food has it's place.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Katie, while the quality of produce at the Ninth Street Market I generally find so-so or okay for in-season items, I find that Jimmy and Vinnie Iovino at the Reading Terminal Market consistently have superior quality produce; when merchandise ages/ripens/bruises, it gets placed on the special rack and sold at a discount (and, I might add, that's frequently a great place for perfectly edible/cookable items at a great price). Jimmie and Vinnie have worked hard to develop relationships with area farmers, so although they certainly make use of the wholesale markets, they also go out of their way to bring in produce directly from the farmer.

I think you're off base with your blanket statement about produce quality at the RTM. It certainly doesn't apply to Iovine's. As much as I admire Wegman's, I find Iovine's at least as good.


Edited by rlibkind (log)

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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About Wegman's pricing...

Believe it or not, they are more competitive than the used to be. Until about two years ago, their price on everyday goods was over the top. Management recognized that people were shopping at Wegmans for prepared foods and produce/meats, etc., and elsewhere for their staples. So, management did what the needed to do and lowered prices. Yes, they are not as low as Shop Rite or other big stores, but at least they are at lot more competitive than they used to be.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I can hardly wait for a Wegman's to open a little closer to the city.  My understanding is that King of Prussia and Cherry Hill are both on line for within one year.  I can totally see myself becoming a very regular shopper there.

Cherry Hill, huh? I'm wondering where...it's such a big township, and I'm one street light from the Eastern border of it.

They'll certainly cater to the Cherry Hillers who may be getting ready to move on from Zagara's/Trader Joe's/Whole Foods to the next popular thing.

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I wrote earlier about our poor opening day experience. Since then, we've gone back, on a normal day. Fantastic this time around. Also, we saw that Wegman's was selling *copper river* salmon -- orange-red, beautiful. We grilled it at home -- incredible. $16.99/lb.

The samples were plentiful, the choices were abundant, and we had an entirely pleasant experience. My teaching point for the day -- 2000 other gawkers will definitely ruin a food experience.

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Finally made it to a wegmans this past weekend, the one in Bridgewater NJ to be precise. Huge, but otherwise a little dissapointed. Cheese section was not much better than whole foods. $15.99 for what appeared to be non-aged prime steaks, paid the same amount for dry aged rib eye from in an uptown market in NYC! Fondled some summer truffles, is it me or are the ones sold in the US odorless? They stock Pierre Herme chocs!!!

On a tight budget so just settled for a trio of normandy, french and truffle butter, baguette and some macaroons. Overall not too many usual items, how does the one in downington compare.

Strolled over to the nearby Home Depot subsidiary Expo Design Center after wegmans (http://www.expo.com/prex85/EXUS/EN_US/pg_index.jsp) and all I can say is KITCHEN NIRVANA!!!! DCS, DACOR, viking, thermador, miele, ge monogram, fisher paykel, bosch you name it they got it super high end everything all in the same place and with prices!!! They cheapest fridge they carried was $1800! Definitely worth checking out if you're in the area

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I live 10 minutes from the Wegmans in Bridgewater, NJ, and consider it a great amenity of living here. I previously lived in Greenwich, CT, where there was a Fresh Fields that I liked but Wegman's is miles ahead of Fresh Fields. It has a much better price-value ratio for one thing. Fresh Fields focused on the fresh breads of many varieties. However, in this post-Adkins world who wants fresh bread? I think the fish are fresher generally and of greater variety than the alternatives around here like Kings, Shoprite, A&P, etc. I think the prices are a tad higher but the price-value ratio is better. Now that I realize that farm-raised seafood is of higher mercury levels (due to feeding 'em fish parts to grow) than wild fish like Sockeye I tend to eschew them. Wegman's has things like Sockeye when it is in season. The frozen Sockeye and other fish in Wegmans is wonderful. It is actually relatively unknown since other stores don't have gourment frozen fish like Wegmans so people don't think to look for it and try it. You have choices. And they are fresh and great. The pastry is really better than the bakery alternatives we have around here. We like the fruit tart cakes and the chocolate things. They are not as good as Great Cakes in Westport, CT, that we used to patronize. (Great Cakes had appricot creme filled carrot cakes that sent us to the moon!) However, they beat everything in Jersey. (I wonder if you can special order appricot creme carrot cakes at Wegmans?) The Wegmans popcorn has been on sale for practically nothing and it is better than Newman's own. I get the natural without untoward stuff on it and put in my microwave for 3 minutes. I get mountains more than Newman's and again it is really clearly better. I like the Wegmans brand pasta sauces, especially the garlic one. Again they are on sale with my Wegmans card. I like the way you get your Wegmans card discounts on the spot rather than save points towards turkeys like at Shoprite. The Asian buffet, the fruit buffet, the grain salad buffet, the prepared entree station with crab sandwiches, the soups, the salad to your order station, free tea station for the buffet FREE, the chopsticks not just plastic wear, it all makes for a wonderful place to lunch. It is rapid. Is is tasty. It looks good. It tastes good. I have only been to the Bridgewater store but it has a player piano in the luncheon table area that is really nice. Classy. The staff are usually very friendly NON-UNION. I have interacted once with a nut but I spoke to various managers and coworkers who were genuinely concerned and that man is gone now. Getting someone to help you if want to have help in getting the stuff to the car is readily accomplished. The service desk people are okay. Sometimes more helpful than other times. I have encountered some who do know that they have stuff that they have. I think the service desk is just ordinary. Same as at Shoprite. Oh, one thing I like is the all-natural japanese soup noodle packages. Usually you can only get the Ramen with MSG in supermarkets. Wegmans in its natural food department has them without MSG, though they cost twice as much. However, I love them. Wegmans wine and liquor annex at Bridgewater is great and the prices were surprisingly cheap. I got a gallon of a name brand creme liquor for less than I paid at an unpleasant discount liquor store in Bayonne. They carry Pouilly Fume which before I started to boycott French things was my favorite. Also, I find that if you are boycotting French things, the cheese department is hard to locate non-French things in. I used to go to Schaller und Weber in Manhattan for German limburger cheese. Wegmans has great German limburger, though I have to age it sometimes since they sell it too quickly. Their fresh herbs are wonderful. I buy bunches of dill for my fish. I also think they Southfield yogurt is good, though you have to check the container dates since they seem to leave some outdated ones on the counter.

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