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New Farm Fresh market in Altadena - I'm impressed!

I've always like much about the Farm Fresh on Orange Grove, besides simply that it's close by, but it's horribly cramped and usually smells bad enough to make me take another look at that "A" rating card in the window. But now I can drive just a bit farther and go to the new and really huge one up on Lincoln, just north of Woodbury in Altadena. As you could expect, the variety of offerings is a whole lot wider, including a four-island wine section next to the huge produce department, and a greatly expanded butcher counter. The seafood selection, curiously enough, is considerably smaller than that on Orange Grove, but the fresh meat selection is pretty good. Service is good, too: I asked about the ground pork, which I didn't see, and the woman behind the counter took me over to the package case and showed me that they didn't have any. When I mentioned that it was a sale item in their flyer, however, she immediately went to consult with one of the butchers, who asked me how much I wanted and then ground it for me! Last butcher I asked to do that spent twenty minutes telling me why he couldn't...

Besides a greatly expanded grocery selection, they have a fresh bakery and a deli section. They also have several prepared-food counters, some of which aren't yet in operation. The ones that are include one with Chinese foods and a sushi bar (!!!), with a barbecue place to come.

It still ain't Gigante, nor even quite up to Monrovia's King Ranch in the meats, seafood and Latino foods categories, but it's the best thing close to me. I just hope they'll make a go of it - the store is really a lot more upscale than its neighborhood. We'll see.

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  1. Sounds promising, and figures, we moved out of the neighbohood in 1989 and look what happens, gentrification. (Hmmm, maybe our departure was good for the neighbohood.)

    I do remember regularly seeing someone BBQ'ing in front of a church, on Lincoln, south of Woodbury and north of the freeway, you might want to cruise the area on the weekend and look for smoke.

    1. I neglected to mention that Mrs. O tells me they have grains etc. in bulk as well. She says their organic steel-cut oats (which we consume on more or less a daily basis) are 99¢ a pound, or about 20¢ cheaper than Whole Foods' organics. And on the same general subject, I was also reminded that the new store has an island devoted to organic produce.

      1. Fabulous tip! This is close to where I live in Altadena. I will be checking it our tomorrow!
        Thanks WO.

        1. I was loving it in January...the prepared food stuff was great and they had a huge selection of organic produce. I loved it that there was a sushi bar in my neighborhood (and really quite good), and I could go solo. Now I'm afraid that they're mission is more about tax break benefit rather than maintaining quality. I went there this afternoon and it was dead. The sushi guy was completely worthless!! He didn't have anything, and I could not communicate with him because he couldn't speak English (I think he was Korean). He just said No, no. He said there was no octopus even though I saw it in the case. I got so frustrated that I just walked out. Also, the organic produce selection has been hugely reduced. The prices on all other goods are not cheap either: comparable to pricey Ralph's in La Canada and not great quality. One good thing: I love the juice bar and the juice guy is super friendly. I still want to try the soul food, but it seems every time I go they don't have anything out. Let's hope this doesn't turn out to be a flop...

          1. Yeah. I stopped by during my lunch a couple of weeks ago. Some great stuff in there. However, RUN don't walk away from that "soul food" booth. I ordered the smothered chicken, greens and mashed potatoes with gravy. The only thing edible was the gravy! Chicken was burnt and was not smothered. Mashed potatoes were from a box - gravy probably was from a can, but with some added salt (which they did not have) it was passable. Greens were just plain gross. The Jiffy muffins were okay, but they did not have butter or honey to go with them. All that grossness for $6.99. Blech! But, the store itself has great offerings across the board.

            1. I AM NOT IMPRESSED!

              I live just to the west of Loma Alta Park in The Meadows. There are a great bunch of people who live up there. It is 6 miles to the nearest Vons, Ralph’s or Trader Joe’s from our neighborhood. When Farm Fresh Market moved in I was very excited and hoped for the best.

              The best is NOT what we have in the Farm Fresh Market. It is horrible in every way.

              PHYSICAL PLANT
              It’s a huge open barn with ugly neon signs everywhere. The smell in the meat department is un-explainable. Maybe it’s the dried and salted fish of all sorts. YUK! They have had to close down most of the check out stands and they have product jammed in front of the closed ones. Bad marketing.

              MEAT
              I usually buy chicken which is prepared with a sauce. This probably disguises the quality of the chicken. But, yesterday I purchased a Rib Eye steak for dinner. This is the first time I purchased a steak there. I grill steak every Sunday. The meat from Farm Fresh was tough, dry and no flavor. My husband asked me where the meat came from and to never buy it there again. I always buy my meat at either Ralph’s or Vons. We could certainly tell the difference between the quality of that meat vs. other leading markets.

              PRODUCE
              The produce is piled a mile high. Why I don’t know, because I never see more than 10 people in the store at one time. There is enough produce stacked up in that department for 3 stores. The most rotten produce is rotated to the top. So if you want something fresh you have to dig. This is disgusting.

              SELECTION
              At last, there is at least one decent brand of whole bean coffee. But there is only one brand. Otherwise it’s Folgers in a can or ground. Overall, there is a very limited selection of quality items in this store.

              LIQUOR
              All of the liquor is kept behind a counter IN THE DARK and out of reach of the customers. You must find someone to help you. Last week the manager was busy and asked the security guard help me. This guy didn’t have a clue as to what was available. I asked the guard to point out the gin as I couldn’t see it from 15 feet away. Finally the manager came to help. Bombay Sapphire Gin is readily available at ANY reputable super market without the need of help from a manager. But not at Farm Fresh - which did not even carry Bombay Sapphire Gin.

              I could go on and on and on! We are treated as though we are going to walk away with the store and that is not right.

              I hate this place!

              1. After having posted the original glowing report, I'll have to give qualified assent to most of the posted negatives. Like too many restaurants I can think of just now, these guys opened with big plans, lots of variety, and great bargains...then one part after another sorta drooped and faded, and the accumulated dirt and wear and tear went uncleaned and unmended, and now it's barely worth the trouble to go. I still drop in (when it's handy) for pork and for Latino specialties - I don't think the produce is as bad as some seem to, for instance, and the queso fresco is good and cheap - and for a cheap bottle of wine. And there are also some Middle Eastern specialties there, too, at good prices. But neither the sushi bar nor any of the hot-dish counters even begin to entice me, and the continuing lack of product knowledge among the clueless checkers is both baffling and maddening. I've never bought a poblano (excuse me - "pasilla") pepper in there without being asked what it was, even by Latinas.

                1. I went to the "new Farm Fresh market in August,it was closed.I'm not sure when but it has reopened with a new name,Super King Market,I 've been a few times and it is so far quite a bit better than it was before.I only buy produce there and compared to how the produce was before closing,it is much fresher.The whole store,so far smells and looks better.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: WINDELLA

                    Good to know. I have not been there since the change, though I get their flyers in the mail each week. I'll have to drop by soon.

                    1. re: WINDELLA

                      This is the same Super King that is down on San Fernando Road just south of the 2 Freeway in Glassell Park area that many on the board think is quite good, and I must agree, as I even stop there when in the area.
                      Armenian-owned, and a collection of goods from all over.
                      The place deserves your patronage. should provide a separate thread on its now being in Altadena, and not that far from JPL.

                      1. re: carter

                        Well, I did in fact go up to the one on North Lincoln yesterday, and I'm very glad I did. The produce and meat departments look exactly as they did before, except that everything is all sparkly and clean now, the fruits and vegetables much fresher-looking, the meats actually appetizing, and there are no dank whiffs in the corners anymore. And the cashiers, at least the one I got, now seem to have a clue. Didn't get over to the deli side because I had to get home and cook, but the place now seems to be worth the extra travel again.

                      2. re: WINDELLA

                        Super King in Glassell Park has pretty much exploded in the last year. I was an early champion, but it's so hard to get in there now that I rarely go (it helps to have Fresh & Easy as an alternative). The S.K. parking lot is always jammed, with cars lined up waiting to enter.

                        It's the closest thing to a Zabar's (albeit Armenian) that I've seen on the West Coast. The only drag is they seem to have trouble finding a viable takeout option. I haven't been in awhile, but I think the takeout is now on its 4th or 5th change in ownership.

                        1. re: Briggs

                          I haven't been since the change, but I will definitely make the trip soon. I'm glad to hear it's doing better.

                          We need to patronize our good local places, as the Meadows resident said, everything is a good drive for Altadena folks.