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Mar 25, 2007 08:28 AM

fairway in Red Hook

I'm making my first trip to Fairway in Red Hook. Is there anything unique (or uniquely great) to this store that I oughtn't miss?

At the Plainview store I've learned to refrain from eating anything prepared, cut, or otherwise handled in house (or anything finicky re: storage, like cheese), and stick with packaged goods and produce (exception: I've had very good luck with their wild salmon). Is the Red Hook store more meticulous?

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  1. There had been some talks about that packaged meat may have been below quality, but I think that was more the fault of Murray's and some other providers than Fairways. A very nice feature, should the weather be nice, is the outdoor seating area facing the harbor. The prepared foods are OK, but it's nice to get a couple of items from the meat and cheese departments (the La Quercia organic prosciutto is fantastic) for an impromptu picnic.

    The cheeses I've purchased have been well kept and at their proper ripeness, the prepared foods have been of decent quality but nothing to write home about. Some decent items in the bakery department imported from other bakeries (Sullivan, Poilane, etc.) Fish department seems to be nice, but I prefer several places in Manhattan more (Lobster Place in Chelsea Market, Wild Edibles, etc.) Extensive deli counter, but I think it's on par with the Harlem Fairway.

    A stop by LeNell's, probably the best place in NYC to buy bourbon and rye, not to mention one of the few places that stocks Sortilege (a maple whiskey cordial) and an amazing number of bitters, is certainly in order if you're in the nabe. (And they do tastings on weekends, generally.) It's on Van Brunt a few blocks north and is certainly walkable from the Fairway parking lot.

    1. I didn't even venture ito the store itself because it seemed overwhelming, but definitely seconding the back area seating with a great view of manhattan and lady liberty. the baked goods near the back exist aren't that good so I'd pick up something from Baked (also a few blocks up Van Brunt) and maybe a coffee from the Fairway and enjoy the air.

      oh and the sign for lenell's says "WINE AND LIKKER" in what looks like chalkboard handwriting. wonderful store.

      2 Replies
      1. re: bigjeff

        Any store that has a clawfoot bathtub full of gin (bottles) is great in my book!

        1. re: lambretta76

          not to mention a proprietress with a cowboy hat and gingham!

      2. I do all the major shopping there and I have no issues. Everything I have bought has been exactly as promised, good, fresh, nice. I do not buy prepared foods, so I cannot speak to that. The cheeses I have bought have been good, the advice I get good and solid. The staff has top down been friendly, everytime I have been there. I like it.

        But yes, it can be very overwhelming and tricky in finding items. We team shop, splitting off in different directions and meet back at points, helps to save our sanity.

        1. Jim, see this comment below re: Fairway, and their lobster rolls. apparently, a must have.

          5 Replies
          1. re: bigjeff

            I tried the lobster rolls a acouple of weeks ago after hearing good things and must say...I was disappointd. The meat wasn't very sweet and they put frsh peppers in with the lobster, amking it even harder to taste the meat. Certainly a good deal at the price, but not a very good lobster roll.

            1. re: jdf

              what price anyway? I didn't actually see it, just passing the info on. . .

              1. re: bigjeff

                I think it was $7.95 or $8.95 and includes potato chips, as well.

                1. re: jdf

                  re: the lobster roll, you get what you pay for---I've had it a couple of times and its all claw meat, no tail, so not all that tasty. I was disappointed at first but then figured--- what can you expect for $8? Its still a decent lunch (comes with chips and salad) and IMHO the nicest spot for lunchtime dining especially in good weather! Just don't expect it to be like Brooklyn Fish Camp's. ;-)

            2. re: bigjeff

              i had the lobster roll and while very big was nothing special. the lobster tasted thawed and had little to no flavor. most of the prepared foods at fairway are pretty blah. they do sell, however fantastic imported products from europe a good prices. some must haves are:

              the olive oils- esp the gaeta
              the anchovies from france packed in olive oil
              the black oil cured olives
              the berkshire pork chops
              the large wild shrimp

            3. I went to the Red Hook Fairway yesterday for the first time. I'm a regular shopper at the Plainview store, and have never had a problem with any fresh foods (cheese, chicken, olives) there. I found that the Red Hook store has a huge assortment of organic goods--I guess they play to the community--and their fish and meat departments look slightly larger than the Plainview's store. But, overall, I hated the place. It's laid out very poorly, and you keep having to retrace your steps to get from one department to another. The coffee guy I spoke to wasn't very knowledgable, but David in the cheese department knew his stuff. Fruit and vegetables were fresh and well-displayed. It was an interesting trip, but I think I'll stay with the Plainview store. Besides, there's a Trader Joe's really close to it, and I can hit 2 stores in a single afternoon.

              11 Replies
              1. re: Missyme

                I actually LOVE Fairway in Red Hook, mainly because it allowed me to leave the co-op . . .the one issue I have with it is that they'll have one category of item in several different places (say, yogurt -- wallaby's here, six grains there, sabor latino in another case), so you do kind of have to take the time to get to know the place (I think the first time I went was two days before Christmas, with a list of ingredients -- not the best way to be introduced to the store, certainly). Also, I do think they tend to put the most expensive of the category first in the floor plan: take mustard. I needed dijon mustard, and came upon the really expensive stuff (which i didn't need) first. Once I happened upon the run-of-the-mill stuff, their floor plan makes it very difficult to retrace your steps to return the more expensive item to the shelf.

                Still, it's better than the co-op (even if Fairway produce is nothing to write home about). And even with the added cost of a zipcar to get there, at least there's a good grocery store in Brooklyn now. And it beats the hell out of the Fairway at 77th and Bway, which I won't step foot in anymore.

                Oh, I've read on other threads that their roasted chickens are to die for.

                1. re: bebevonbernstein

                  Fairway produce is nothing to write home about! Man, the coop has spoiled you!

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    Hey, if there's one thing the co-op does well, it's produce. It just comes with a very high price (all the co-op sturm & drang), but still, I do miss the co-op produce (and I'm not even into organic; if I was into organic, I would have to find a way to make the co-op work, I imagine, as the organic produce section at Fairway is really small)

                    1. re: bebevonbernstein

                      The organic produce section section is growing by leaps and bounds.

                      FAIRWAY is a family owned and run business. They pride themselves, and succeed in providing very high quality goods, at the most reasonable prices around.

                      Their excellent cheese department is at least 30% lower than MURRAY's or GARDEN of EDEN, and the variety is huge, the quality, excellent.

                    2. re: Jim Leff


                      the produce is best in the summer and fall at the coop when they sell lots of great stuff from local farms. amazing heirloom tomatoes, juicy peaches and baby lettuce are some of the highlights. fairway doesnt seem to care or believe in the value, taste and ethics of buying locally grown produce.

                      1. re: josh L

                        do you have evidence to support that claim?

                    3. re: bebevonbernstein

                      I'm not too familiar, but I did hear about a wonderful produce grocer on Court Street in Carroll Gardens, a father-and-son store with cheap, seasonal and beautiful produce (spring time ramps, fiddlehead ferns, fresh herbs year round, etc.). so if you're close enough to the Fairway or this produce guy, this place comes highly recommended. Not sure exactly where the store is but I feel like it might be on Court Street close to Degraw or a few blocks north or south; I'll try to get more detailed info.

                      1. re: bigjeff

                        The produce grocer that you are thinking of is called "Jim and Andy's." It is run by Jimmy and his son Carmine. Andy was Jimmy's horse when he still sold fruit and vegetables from a cart before he had the store. It is not in Carroll Gardens, but in Cobble Hill (at Court and Warren next to Frattelli's). You must engage the proprieters to find what is the best. They are knowledgable and will steer you to what is the best at the moment. They supply a lot of restaurants and will often have hidden stuff down below if you ask.

                        1. re: deepyarn

                          I agree with missyme i think the layout is terrible, lighting poor
                          Cheeses good but way overpriced
                          Deli dept. had some nice selections good prices
                          Gourmet Meat Dept looked good but overall Fairway offers nothing particularly exciting

                          Best bet: Buy a roll for a quarter, 1/4 pound Roast beef, make a sandwich sit out on the patio on a nice day

                          1. re: DoctortedNYC

                            I thought the cheese were very reasonable--my friend grabbed at least five cheeses taht went for significantly more in the city (almost double at whole foods on one of them).

                            Layout leaves a lot to be desired but I thought it was well stocked and reasonably easy to find things.

                    4. re: Missyme

                      Missyme, I agree with pretty much everything you have written. I too go to the Plainview store (almost every weekend) and have been pretty much happy with all the food there (cheeses, olives, hot foot, prepared food at the deli counter, etc., produce, etc.). And I did find the layout of the Red Hook store a bit cumbersone to navigate. That said, I am looking forward to getting back there and buying something to eat out in the back, so I can sit on the terrace and enjoy the view.
                      BTW, I also hit two (and sometime three) stores in one afternoon, but my other go to store is the Shoprite in Plainview. GREAT prices on all their grocery items.