Farmer Joe's in Oakland
I stopped by the new Farmer Joe's in Oakland on Fruitvale and MacArthur and was pleasantly surprised. Just wanted to drop by a quick report.
There is a vast supply of fresh produce both regular and organic that you can choose from. The quality of the fruits and vegetables seem to be good and fresh. There was lots more than just the run of the mill Safeway selection such as morel mushrooms and such. They also have an olive oil bar, which was closed by the time I got there. It is a large size grocery so they have household items as well such as detergent and such. Their international section was a little small, though they do have a very small British food section. There is a fresh meat counter that feature Niman Ranch beef, but a very small seafood selection. You can also pick up sushi and burritos (I'll have to try the burritos out later).
All in all it was a mix of Trader Joe's meets Peidmont Grocery with good prices. Even though it was crowded, the lines went by quickly. The parking lot is a little congested, but we shall see after all the opening excitement dies down. I wonder how the original Farmer Joe's location will fare since this one is just down a few blocks from it. Time will tell, but it's great to have more quality groceries available in Oakland.
Farmer Joes still has a few bugs to work out, but I am thrilled to have them in the neighborhood. It is great to see kids working there who I have known since they were in elementary school with my kids!
I have been in there several times already, but haven't had the time to stroll through all the aisles yet. Meat department prices and quality are comparable to those at the Piedmont Grocery. Produce is cheap and nice. They didn't have (or I didn't see) prices marked on items like milk or bread so I haven't done a comparison on those. The deli meat section had good prices. They have all the bins of bulk nuts, grains, etc. that the original location has.
The store is dimly lit like the new trend in grocery stores seems to be. That takes me some getting used to, but I am so grateful to have a decent store in the Dimond that I am willing to overlook that.
I will continue to buy some products at Safeway for the cheaper prices, but my trips to the Piedmont Grocery for meats and produce will now be to Farmer Joe's. Think of the gas I'll save!
I'm making it a mission in life never to shop at large chain supermarkets (TJ's doesn't qualify). So I decided to check out the new Farmer Joe's last night.
I agree with the previous posters: it has a better-than-average produce selection, and really great varied selections of almost everything else (except, to my annoyance, the one thing I'd specifically wanted last night: fresh pasta). They carry some interesting imports, but also some locals that aren't widely distributed: Food Mill cookies and peanut butter, Genova frozen ravioli, lasanga and sauces, preserves from girl and the fig and frog hollow, etc. I had a really hard time choosing from the array of sausages (what appeared to be the entire Saag's line, Niman, Aidells, Sonoma Sausage and some others) and the selection of honeys was mindboggling.
Not quite Berkeley Bowl for fresh foods (produce, meat, etc.) but better for almost everything else, and of course, not insane . The only thing that I thought was really under par was the service -- I talked to several people and none of them seemed to know what they were doing (both people I asked had no clue what fresh pasta was, the woman at the bakery didn't know which one the macaroon was, etc.).
I agree on the service. While I was very excited about a lot of the items, the kid working at the meat counter were clueless. We asked for a pork butt and he looked at us blankly. We had to point out what cut it was. We also asked him about a couple of other things, and got more blank looks in return. But the checkout lady was very nice, and I have hopes!