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Disappointed with FAIRWAY

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  • bookistan Jun 12, 2006 06:48 PM
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I've been twice to the new Fairway in Red Hook and was pretty excited about their opening in Brooklyn. Everything went well with the first visit, just a few days after their grand opening. My second visit about a week ago yielded the following:

1. A spoiled chicken breast (which I opened a day before the "use by" date. I called their customer service dept. and the lady I spoke to suggested I bring back the chicken. After I told her I would not do so she agreed that I could just bring the receipt and label from the chicken. Since it would take me at least an hour to get there and back, my cost benefit analysis tells me it's not worth the $2.50 or so in the credit I'd receive.

2. Chicken enchiladas (one of their prepared dishes) that tasted "off" - not bad, but it had a strange, unappetizing taste that basically turned off everyone in my family.

3. I bought one of their specials - 18 eggs for 99 cents. Today I made 2 hard boiled egg, one was VERY spoiled.

4. Quiche - another store-made product. Not bad, but nearly tasteless.

Granted, many of the things we purchased were fine. They have a great cheese department and lots of other good things. But given the time it takes to get there, the strange layout, and the possibility that they may not be handling their fresh foods properly, I doubt I'll return. Oh well, there's still Fresh Direct - pricier for sure, but awfully convenient.

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  1. I hate to say it, but just looking at the prepared food there tells me its second rate. I would never buy any of it. as for the eggs, well for one to be spoiled, they either have to be VERY VERY OLD (eggs last for months in a fridge), or have been stored in extremely bad conditions. So I would be very disturbed about that. and the chicken,,,mmm did the food sit in the hot trunk of a car at all on the way home? That can spoil very quickly.
    otherwise I'd be concerned about something in thier distrubition chain. Or maybe they are having start up food rotation problems.

    4 Replies
    1. re: jason Carey

      I just want to add, when i went to fairway two weeks ago, i almost passed out from the chemicals they were using to clean the fresh fish area. The place is a nightmare in terms of lay out. I looked in vain for hotdog buns on memorial day,but all they had was wonder bread. Bottled water is in several parts of the store.Why is this? To confuse the consumer or is it shelf wars between competing manufactors.
      As i see it they are not as responsible a super market the way whole foods tries to be. I like not having to worry about reading every label for fear that i am probably buying another product laced w/ additives. Sure you might be able to get organic milk cheaper than most places,they have that oh, and the first delivery of amy's bread[ our local mom and pop store now has to wait for a later delivery time because fair way needs there bread delivered sooner. There is not enough honest product and service for me to drive to the"fairway" market.

      1. re: not a foodie

        But the Third World Food Court at the ball fields is still open, and you can get good booze at LeNells.com .

        1. re: geo8rge

          I don't get what you mean? But thanks for responding...

      2. re: jason Carey

        I just want to add, when i went to fairway two weeks ago, i almost passed out from the chemicals they were using to clean the fresh fish area. The place is a nightmare in terms of lay out. I looked in vain for hotdog buns on memorial day,but all they had was wonder bread. Bottled water is in several parts of the store.Why is this? To confuse the consumer or is it shelf wars between competing manufactors.
        As i see it they are not as responsible a super market the way whole foods tries to be. I like not having to worry about reading every label for fear that i am probably buying another product laced w/ additives. Sure you might be able to get organic milk cheaper than most places,they have that oh, and the first delivery of amy's bread[ our local mom and pop store now has to wait for a later delivery time because fair way needs there bread delivered sooner. There is not enough honest product and service for me to drive to the"fairway" market.

      3. FAIRWAY is an excellent supermarket. Take it for what it is. It is not Zabar's nor Dean and deLuca.

        I will continue to buy most of my meat at STAUBITZ and fish and seafood at FISH TALES. As in everything, you get what you pay for.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Fleur

          "You get what you pay for"? - so if I buy eggs on sale I should assume that they may be spoiled, since they are cheaper than eggs elsewhere? Sorry, I respectfully disagree. Yes, I can go to Dean and DeLuca for high-quality products and will pay a high price for them. But I should also be able to go Fairway, or, everyday stores like the Associated or Compare markets on Fifth Avenue, to purchase food that is not spoiled.

          1. re: bookistan

            I agree completely that food should never be sold that is spoiled or past expiration date.

            I think many people are looking to FAIRWAY for something it is not. It is a great all purpose supermarket, infinitely superior to the crap markets we have on the Heights. I think if you are looking for superior quality in chicken, you should never buy pre-packaged chicken, but should go to a quality purveyor like STAUBITZ.

            When making certain dished, I buy the Murray's chicken cutlets at FAIRWAY, and they have been very good. There is no real difference in price between them and STAUBITZ.

            I would also say give FAIRWAY some time to work out the glitches; they have really just opened. I would speak to management about any problems, and encourage them to do better.

            1. re: Fleur

              I've been to Peter Lugers and had a lousy steak. Does that mean I shouldn't go there anymore. There is no such thing as the perfect food store.There's prime meats that taste like choice...et al. Take it from me, I've been a butcher for forty years.

              1. re: food maven

                Did you ever sell spoiled meat? I'm actually curious to know what it means if chicken is well before its expiration date, but still spoiled? Does this mean it was stored incorrectly?

            2. re: bookistan

              while they should never be rotten, eggs at that price point are most likely low quality factory farm mass produced. why not pay a bbit more and get something good- like the eggs at the grand army farmers mkt from red hook, ny.

              1. re: josh L

                Listen guys, Fairway most likely is having supply and/or handling issues. Chicken will 'go funky' at any time of year, much the way mass-produced eggs will do if not kept and handled at proper temperatures. Do make their management aware of how irritated you are with this present situation, they are accomodating and generally are concerned with how they are received in a new market, this one being no exception for obvious reasons. They are going to need time to realize their supply v. demand and adjust accordingly. I too love Fresh Dir., but I have gotten spoiled aka funky meat from them too! The difference is in how it was taken care of, all I had to do was shoot them an email, and 'blink', my account was credited, no hassles, no worries. Fairway needs to realize that out of the gate performance like this isn't going to be good in the short, or long term.

          2. My first experience with the Red Hook Fairway occurred this past Sunday. I, too, am less than thrilled, but will probably go back and buy more selectively.

            1--Prepared foods are not particularly good, nor do they look fresh or well-presented. Bought latkas, cole slaw, marinated sardines. The latkas were dry, devoid of salt and fairly tasteless.

            2--The cheese counter had a salesperson (a young man) who was very knowledgable and could locate cheeses not frequently ordered quickly. The cheeses proved to be fresh and tasty.

            3--The discount fruit and veggies out front featured peaches for 69 cents a pound. After one day of room temperature ripening, they were juicy, sweet and enjoyable.

            4--The place was crowded at 11 AM on Sunday. Despite yellow arrows on the floor guiding people through the natural flow of aisles, there were frequent bottlenecks and the arrows were sometimes ambiguous.

            5--Young people stocking the shelves came from the rainbow of cultures that is NYC, were cheerful and polite, but frequently completely clueless about the location of items.

            6--A man was distributing samples of empanadas made in the Bronx and available in the frozen foods section.
            The ingredients were fresh, "natural" and well-composed. We bought three packages and had a few last night. Excellent!

            1. j
              Joyce Goldstein

              I've been to the new Fairway once so far and I'm still super-excited that it's so nearby. I live in the Ditmas Park area so it is truly only 15 minutes away.

              I enjoyed my first visit if for now other reason I could realize that decent food shopping was really close to home for me.

              I don't view Fairway as a supermarket. It simply doesn't have the variety that most supermarkets have -- different brands etc. It is somewhere between a supermarket and a Zabar's/Dean & DeLuca. I've never bought Fairway's prepared foods so that's not an issue for me.

              What I do buy there generally is - Their packaged smoked salmon. They have a great number of varieties to choose from. I particularly like the Gaspe. I don't buy their handcut smoked salmon because their staff has never really known how to slice it properly. Fortunately there's Russ & Daughter's for that. I like their coffees and their prices. They ordinarily have a great cheese department and this one looked really good although the clerk in that department was clearly new and clueless. They need more training and more time on the job but I have patience. Their kosher meat selection was great as a back up to my butcher. I spoke with the manager of the department since I was looking for a special and he proved really helpful. I like their fresh vegetables and fruits. Their supply is generally really good (except for eggplant - they rarely have decent eggplant and I don't know why) and their prices are exceptional as are their prices throughout the store. (Other examples of this: I like Skim Plus Milk. Most places in Brooklyn charge over $4.50 a half gallon. Fairway usually charges $2.99 and it's been on special there for $1.99 since they opened. I buy Stoneyfield Yogurt. Elsewhere it sells for $3.50-$4.00 a large carton. In Fairway it is $2.85 or something like that. These are only a few examples.) I find there fresh fish to be very good; their olives, especially the cracked Sicilian are delicious; their EVOO is wonderful and well-priced; they have a wide selection of European-style butters. In that one visit everything I bought was fresh and seemed well-kept including milk, eggs, yogurt and meat.

              I think it can only improve as the staff becomes more seasoned. I do think that the management needs feedback. And even now it's head and shoulders above any supermarket that I know of in Brooklyn.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Joyce Goldstein

                Yes, I hope the cheese people learn about cheese. It is sad to have such beautiful cheeses tended to by people who can't answer questions and make suggestions.

              2. I got spoiled chicken from them 2 weeks ago also. I also bought a bottle of marinade that had the cap open (although it was still sealed with plastic) and marinade leaked out in our bags. We didn't notice till we got home. This should've been inspected before being put on the shelf.

                The prices and selection are great, but the layout is horrendous. If you forget something after you've reached the end, you have to somehow backtrack through an obstacle course of crowds and bottlenecks. Its nearly impossible. The only way to do it is to have someone wait with your cart while the other goes to get it.

                Some of the staff I found to be slightly unprofessional as well. A manager was reprimanding an employee loudly in front of all the customers about something. It was very awkward. I like the people behind the cheese counter though.

                1. I really love Fairway, but I've had meat from both the Plainview and Harlem locations go bad on me a day after I'd purchased it. Could be dumb luck, of course, but it's made me quite gun shy of their meat dept. Husband and I shopped in Red Hook the first few days they were open and joked that we should get all of our shopping done right then as we could be fairly sure most of the products were still fresh within the first week.

                  Bought 4 quarts of strawberries at RH location today for a party -- when I sorted the moldy ones out of the lot (yuck) I had about 1 quart of garbage. Could have happened anywhere, but next time I'm opening and inspecting the packages while I'm standing there in the store.

                  1. I've gotten Murray's chicken from the UWS Fairway more than once that's been slightly past its prime. Which really surprised me, since they must be doing big volume. I did buy a whole chicken at Red Hook that was perfectly good, though -- and I got some great tenderloin steaks the other night for a ridiculous $7 a pound.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chris E.

                      Chicken Rule-of-Thumb: Buy within NO LESS THAN 5 or 6 DAYS prior to the expiration date.

                      Even then, you're not assured of peak freshness, as Perdue, Empire, Murray's and others (Kosher and Non-Kosher) date their freshest goods up to TWO WEEKS ahead...and on the branded prepackeds, the date will appear stamped on the side or bottom of the wrapper, not just on the store's weight/price label.

                      Now for the eggs: they have been commonly known to have fresh-dates until SIX OR SEVEN WEEKS from the packaging date. Today's Fairway stock had the AA Extra Large dated July 21st, but I was worn-out looking for a clean, intact dozen.

                    2. Re: "Sell By" Date

                      I have bought murrays from several different stores--including Key food, Steve's C-town and pathmark. Almost without fail, if I open the package on or right before the sell-by date, I get a stinky bird. I always chalked it up to it being all natural, therefore it might be more vulnerable.

                      I have been buying Murrays at Fairway. The whole bird was just fine. The ground chicken was spoiled when I opened it on it's sell-by date.

                      Conclusion: I don't think it is just Fairway, at least where murray's is concerned. The other meat I have bought at fairway has been good to great quality.

                      1. I just came back from a trip to Fairway. Where are all of the shoppers? The place has been empty each time I have gone. Parked right in front, cashiers are always waiting. True, each time I have gone, it has been the same time- Tuesday 6p- but I would have waited on a line at any other supermarket at that time. Anyone have an idea of how they are doing?

                        1. I live near Fairway on Long Island. Meat is usually good, very good prices for prime meat, frozen pasta and sauces is fine. Fruit is fair, depending on the time and the product. Prepared food is not that good except pretty good mac and cheese and roasted vegetables> Deli counter is not that good. Better deli at the Shoprite on Old Country Road

                          1. f
                            ForgetMurray's

                            Like many other posters, I have been supremely disappointed with Murray's Chicken. I've bought it at several markers, Key Food, Fairway, Gourmet Garage...

                            2 of the 5 times I bought it, it was stinky. I simply buy fresh whole, free-range chickens at farmer's markets now. I've given up on Murray's for good.

                            1. As my husband and I had rented a car this weekend we thought we'd stop in at Fairway on the way home - what a mistake. I know all NYC supermarkets are crowded, and I expected a madhouse, but holy cow - I thought I was going to get punched in the face by the rabid shoppers in there. On top of that it was so cold that our teeth were chattering! We abandoned our shopping efforts and left - with huge headaches.

                              1. I expect that Sunday nights are the absolute wrost time to go for the very reason you went. All the people who are in cars for the weekend stop by on the way home before returning/garaging the car!

                                That it was a rainy weekend probably only made it worse as people cut their plans short and made time to try the store out.

                                1. I live in Ditmas park as well and have learned this about Fairway:

                                  1. Eat their "fresh" meat quickly.
                                  2. Eat their cheap, outdoor produce quickly.
                                  3. Don't order prepared foods, Fairway is not a restaurant.
                                  4. Don't expect great deals. Fairway's "thing" is having the best selection, not the best prices. If you want cheap, go to BJ's or Costco (or Jetro).

                                  1. Compared to my local Met on Henry St, I think the Fairway is a wonderful addition to the neighborhood, and a great alternative to Fresh Direct (you don't have to plan ahead a full day!) In fact, I've been every weekend since they opened.

                                    The cheese counter guys have been very helpful and been able to intelligently recommend some great selections. The meat counter guys have been very friendly and similarly helpful.

                                    I do agree that the layout is a nightmare, and it's difficult to find things, but I guess you can just chalk that up to the enormous size of the place.

                                    1. I live out in Williamsburg and have made the trek out to Fairway twice so far. The layout is crazy - I have to do a double and triple check while in produce before I even think of moving on. The rest of the store is great and for veggies this is heaven - amazing selection, plus lots of things I like that I cannot find in my neighborhood. The prices are also much better - veggie deli slices cost $3.89 at the Key Food on Lorimer and Grand but $2.39 at Fairway. That's a BIG difference.

                                      The way I see it is this, I will go to Fairway to do my "big" shopping, but will still go to Key Food to get the ordinary things.