Fresh Market (Richmond)
Richmond now has a Fresh Market that opened around February of this year.
This past weekend, I made the trek from far far west end of Goochland to the market, housed where Saxon Shoes used to be on Parham. I took the "back way" - down 288 to Patterson then up Parham to avoid any congestion, thoughy I noted with some dismay there is a Super Walmart going up across the street.
Anyhow, once into the store, I was impressed - that is - once I was able to get a cart. The layout of the entrance is very poor, to get a cart you have to go towards the center of the store, then push the cart across the flow of people entering the door again, who in turn want to be where you are and get a cart. Oh well.
Once past there though, and I was VERY impressed. I say it compared favorably with Bristol Farms in So Cal. All of the meat is in cases, not pre packaged. Ditto with the cases of seafood and seafood treats.
Here is what I have tried so far:
Aged hereford beef ribeyes - very tasty and reasonably priced for aged (albeit wet aged) beef .
Country style "ribs" - they were a bit too lean, but the pork was flavorful. I perhaps should have cooked them lower and slower, maybe with a wetter cooking method.
Apple Smoked bacon - the best I have bought without using mail order.
Bacon wrapped scallops - EXCELLENT! Much better than the flavorless ones I got at Ukrops a while back, or even the ones I got at a seafood shop (forget which ones). The scallops were sweetish, and a subtle but flavorful seasoning and good bacon made these worth the admitedly high price (19.99 a pound - we got a half pound which was 8). Besides, we rarely ever go to restaurants anymore - only once this year so far; so this is our treat.
Maryland crab cakes - very good, better than most of the ones I have had at restaurants.
Lobster cakes - very good to excellent. Never had these before but I will make a point of it next time I am at Fresh market.
pre cooked pork roast provencal (cold) - Mmm wow.. they made a pork roast taste sort of like prime rib, and for 4.99 a pound no less. I wonder if I read that label wrong :) They had many other pre cooked things pre packaged to go, but the store was crowded and I wanted to get my gelato home frozen.
Ground round - very tasty, the way I remember ground round used to taste. This, one some of their peasant rye bread, with some cheese and some apple smoked bacon and the garlic alioi I bought there as well = yum! Best burger I have had in months or perhaps years.
I also liked the gelato I got in their freezer section, that saved me a side trip.
I was a bit disappointed that they did not have any rib chop pork chops, but maybe if I call ahead they can order some in for me, it was hard to hear when I was there on Saturday. Still the service was FAST, they had maybe 8 guys behind the meat counter.
The prepared food counter was not so fast, after waiting for 5 minutes and not one new person being called, I left.
The bakery looks to be training some new people, it took a long time to get my order even though they took it immediately and were not busy. The stuff I got there was very good though.
The produce was all very good too, so I cannot wait to try more from this store, perhaps when it is less busy (or when my wife is there to help entertain my son :) )
I am happy to have this place in Richmond now, but don't expect to do all your grocery shopping there. They don't sell TP, for one thing :) they have a very limited selection of non-fresh (boxed/canned) items overall, that I didn't get much of a chance to peruse. Overall though, the place made my weekend.
Fresh Market has been around in North Carolina for quite some time -- early nineties at least. They started out as an upscale, "boutique" grocery market rather than an organic market. Their produce and meat sections are uniformly pretty good (as with any chain, there can be differences from store to store, but FM has been more consistent than most in my experience). Their bakeries are pretty so-so: everything is shipped in, and the baking done in-store is limited to finishing off par-baked breads and baking muffins, cookies, etc frozen or from mixes. Their pastries are from the higher end of the mass-produced spectrum, but they still look a whole lot better than they taste, and if you're expecting a real bakery you'll be disappointed.
Their pimiento cheese, on the other hand, is truly wonderful, particularly the jalapeno pimiento cheese and the chipotle pimiento cheese. Whenever we're near Asheville (our nearest FM), my wife and I detour to pick up a couple tubs and some of their toasted baguette rounds (which they do make in house from unsold baguettes, and which are infinitely better than the baguettes were originally).
I recommend the smoked gouda and portobello burgers, the beef pinwheels, the crab artichoke dip, and the christmas blend coffee which should be out now.
Their fish is usually fresh (I prefer grouper). I am not mad about their desserts, just okay.
They also carry some great spices.