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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.

    http://www.lenells.com/

    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.

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/38234...

          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

                      jim,

                      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.

                    5. If i didn't live in south brooklyn, I don't think i would come here (say from queens) just for fairway. It's become my main grocery store only because the met food on smith street has slipped terribly and there's not much else nearby. ( i don't like the other met food on henry either) but i have to agree with others that the layout is terrible (walk forever if you forget something in produce) the produce not particularly good and mainly overpriced, and the habit of having the same things (cheese, mustard, hot dogs, whatever) in several different places frustrating. Not to mention the complete lack of an attempt to stock decent mexican items--what's up with that?

                      What's best about fairway is the cheese counter (expensive, but not more so than other stores in the area, and certainly more comprehensive) the smoked fish counter (with a good slicer, a boon to neighborhood woefully short in the jewish appetizing dept) the fresh fish counter (am appreciative of the way all the seafood is sourced on the signs) and the fact that they carry farmland dairy products (bgh free), which keeps me from having to buy horribly overpriced, ultrapasturized organic stuff. no other store in the neighborhood carries farmland.

                      Now, if I lived in jackson heights and had trade fair (nice meat counter) and patel brothers and sabzi mandi (produce quality as good but prices much cheaper than fairway) in my neighborhood, I don't think I would bother with fairway. Though i suppose then its advantage is that it has all the high end fancy stuff a person might want under one roof.

                      Also, I was there today and will add that sunday is a terribly day to shop there. They were out of lots of things.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: missmasala

                        I went an hour before closing - 9pm. Was empty and a pleasure. Fish counter was beautiful...surprised no one's commented. Fish well-priced, too. Fish guy very friendly and sincere and diligent. Really cares. I copped some beautiful wild halibut steaks for like $13/pound. Everything looked and smelled primo. Produce prices so much cheaper than Whole Foods.

                        Best of all......newly arrived...........**HEMP MILK**!!!!!! http://www.chowhound.com/topics/381122

                        1. re: Jim Leff

                          i did comment (see above). I love that fish counter! besides the great sourcing signs, the guys are knowledgable, friendly, and will do whatever you ask: cleaning, filleting etc.

                          I thought the jumbo wild shrimp for $7.99 were a bargain, but had already committed to something else. And therein lies my problem with fairway's fish counter. It all looks so good, I end up buying more than I can possibly cook in 2 or 3 days.

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            The fish counter is the best thing about this store (and the fishguys of course).

                            1. re: bigjeff

                              After I'd been there three times, I had the store figured out. Before that it was definately overwhelming. I have had great specialty ham at the deli counter. Fresh salmon was cut nice and thin and was fresh. Organic meat was a great suprise (as I too quit the coop and this was one thing I missed). Between Fairway and Sahadi, I have everything pretty much covered.

                          2. I love Red Hook Fairway. When I lived in Manhattan, I moved on from the UWS store to the Harlem store, as it was easier and less crowded. But Red Hook is the best, IMO. EVERYONE, even the unskilled workers, is very customer-friendly and helpful and will get you an answer to your question even if they have to go find a supervisor. The cheese and coldcuts are both amazing. The produce is different every week but I just take a greenmarket approach -- buy what looks fresh and good -- and have not had any problems, except maybe once in the dead of winter. There are always things specially priced that look good. The meats are excellent, and the fish guys really know what they're doing. I can understand why the layout might seem overwhelming -- the store is huge, after all - and I have had the experience of getting to fish or meat, choosing something to cook, and then having to hike back to produce for herbs or whatever. But once you learn how things are organized, it's not hard to navigate. And they have a great selection of chocolates! I've also had good experience with customer service: on the rare occasions that I've bought something that turned out not to be good (once a cheese, once a pate), they gave me credit, no questions asked. Admittedly, I am a recovering former coop member who just revels in guilt-free shopping at Fairway, where the cashiers are quick and efficient, the aisles are wide enough to handle the traffic, and you can buy everything you need under one roof. And of course, I love the terrace. You definitely do want to try to avoid the busiest times. I find that Friday afternoon/evening or anytime Monday are fine. Weekends are a zoo.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: starfish

                              bigjeff, are you saying Trade Fair has hemp milk?

                              And, Starfish, agreed on niceness and chocolate (I still think the fish counter has drawn insufficient raves in this thread, though). But as a one-time cashier at the Coop, I can assure you that awful, angry, imperious, impatient customers are a vastly greater problem than slightly clueless cashiers. Trying that job even once would make even the most ardent NRA member beg for gun control. And, to this day, I push all my food to the other side of the belt, knowing how uncomfortable a shoulder gets from constantly reaching over to grab stuff.

                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                oh no, not that. just a big up to Trade Fair in general!

                                1. re: bigjeff

                                  Idunno. Trade Fair has some stuff that's hard to get in west and central queens supermarkets. But nothing about it thrills me, except its 24 hour openness.

                                  And their milk goes bad way before the expiration (except in the dead of winter), which means they're not meticulous with such things. Anyplace that'd leave milk sitting out of refrigeration doesn't care all that much.

                                  But more people agree with you than with me!

                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                    i feel compelled to defend trade fair here. anyplace that has passion fruit puree for 99 cents and decent frozen grated coconut gets my vote. not to mention that the butcher at the meat counter will debone the lamb shoulder for you, not an easy thing to find.

                                    however, maybe if i lived in the neighborhood its charms would fade. i know how that works. many of the charms of south brooklyn have faded for me over the years.

                                    1. re: Jim Leff

                                      I live in rego park and I often make the trip to trade fair in forest hills, near ascan, just because it is usually quite inexpensive, slightly higher quality than the other supermarkets (Met, Key Food, etc.) and open 24-hours. They have some nice middle eastern aisles, and while it is the basics, I like my basics from there. the other choices in the neighborhood are way worse. anything else that matters (produce, specialized, etc.) then I definitely have to shop outside of the neighborhood.

                                      basically, I'm just waiting for that Trader Joe's to open!

                                  2. re: Jim Leff

                                    I'm sorry, I gotta disagree about the quality of the fish. I happen to be pretty pleased overall with the place, but I never touch the fish. Or not anymore. I was always a little concerned about the pervasive smell of fishiness in the area. Then one day last summer I bought a bunch of steamers and I had to throw them out. They smelled terrible and the texture was very...off. Subsequent conversations with the guys at Fish Tales, a small, very high-quality market in Cobble Hill, didn't help. They reported only seeing the Fairway crew once or twice a week at Fulton Fish market (or whatever it's called now that it's not at the seaport). You could say those guys have a good reason to undermine the success of Fairway, except they do extremely heavy local business and probably wouldn't be affected by them one way or the other. Just my 2 cents...

                                    1. re: robotcoupe

                                      Fish counter smelled, looked, and tasted (just had my halibut steak) terrific, 15 mins before closing on a Sunday night. And I dispute the negligibility of Fairway's effect on Fish Tales. But I don't dispute your personal observations, of course, so thanks for chiming in!

                                      1. re: Jim Leff

                                        I'm with Jim. I've never noticed any pervasive fishy smell at the fairway fish counter.

                                        But then, I'm the lone fish tales naysayer on this board. I find them overpriced, and the final straw for me was when I asked them for advice on fish for fish tacos and they sold me some less than fresh tilapia. It tasted awful. All the fish/seafood I've ever gotten from the fairway has tasted great.

                                        1. re: missmasala

                                          i hate tilapia but many mexican restaurants use it when serving fish tacos in new york.

                                      2. re: robotcoupe

                                        I bought shrimp at Fairway, during the flurry of the opening.
                                        They were very iodiney, which I understand is a handling/age thing.
                                        So, robotcoupe, you're not the only one with a bad seafood experience there.

                                        I do better in Chinatown (Sunset Park)
                                        but I really can't wait for the fish people at the GAP Farmer's Market to start selling again....

                                        1. re: pitu

                                          i've bought jumbo wild shrimp at fairway on multiple occasions and they have always been tip top. i do, however always smell shrimp before purchasing them as the iodine smell is pretty noticable. i've declined shrimp at wholefoods on a couple of occasions but never fairway.

                                          if your buying shrimp in chinatown, its probably farmed.

                                        2. re: robotcoupe

                                          I don't think it means anything that the Fish Tales guys only see the fairway buyers once or twice a week. The fairway fishmongers say they have fishermen selling to them directly, and they do have a poster advertising one fisherman in particular. The little guys are on the defensive, understandably so....

                                          As a Red Hook resident who did eight years of hard time at the co-op, I thank god for the Fairway. Of course their produce can't hold a candle to the co-op, but shoppers also don't have to work, fight their way through narrow aisles, stand in multiple lines or put up all the drama. There's altogether too many neuroses crowded into too small a space, but still....still....oh fuck it, I love that crazy co-op despite it all, and if I ever moved to Park Slope I'd re-join in a heartbeat. There's just something about it...you walk in and you feel like you're a part of something good. I guess it's the ultimate New York hassle-filled never-pay-retail experience, complete with kooky characters like the 90 year old lady who shoves you out of the way with her walker and screams in your face. Now I'm getting sentimental....

                                          1. re: robotcoupe

                                            I went tonight (Thursday) around 8pm. Fish looked and smelled good. Best of all very few people in the store! Unfortunately I went there and got a rotisserie chicken (previously recommended on another threat) I found it extremely dry.

                                      3. I was there on Saturday morning a little after 10am. It wasn't crowded, was easy to park and the whole experience was much easier and less overwhelming than when I've been there later on a weekend day. I

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: MichaelZ

                                          I think that circulation difficulties are a trade-off. After all the building is a pre-Civil War era warehouse with hug thick interior brick bearing walls that cannot be breached. Given the physical layout of the building, I think they have done a good job. Now Fairway did not not have to choose a building with these restrictions, but I'm charmed by it and glad they did even it is a little hard to get around inside. I'm also impressed that they use co-generation for their electricity for their massive refrigeration needs.

                                          That said, I'm amazed they have an overwhelming variety of some products, but are totally lacking in others. For example, they have a dozen different brands of canned tomatoes, but not something a basic as one kind of packaged Chinese soup noodles. They have 20 different brands of packaged sausage each with a half dozen varieties, but almost never can I find an fresh (unfrozen) whole duck. Baffles the mind.

                                          1. re: bobjbkln

                                            They have some asian noodle soups in their natural food section. Not as good as chinatown stuff, but not bad.

                                            I am personally suprised that I couldn't find refrigerated corn tortillas--they had some non-refrigerated brand (scary) near the el paso stuff. We ended up going to the bodega for the tortillas!!

                                            1. re: fudluvr

                                              I love Fairway, though the organization frustrates me. If they just redesigned so that all the yogurts were in one place, and the cheeses together etc, it just might be my favorite store.

                                              Oh! and their prepared soups are delicious and very reasonable.

                                              1. re: chompchomp

                                                Yogurt displacement is an issue at all Fairways, fwiw. And I guess it's understandable...the people who buy the $3 little yogurts are not the people digging through the Dannon options in the dairy section. So they put 'em with the goor-may stuff.

                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                  Actually, once I figured out where all my stuff is, the layout of the store doesn't seem TOO awful (but hey, I'm only shopping for one, and I can go off hours, too). Still and all, I'm thankful to finally have a great grocery store in Brooklyn, even if it AIN'T perfect. Thank you, Fairway people!!

                                              2. re: fudluvr

                                                sorry I was not clear. The "Chinese Noodles" I mean are the crisp noodles that one adds to soup like croûtons and that come in cellophane bags. Available in all grocery stores, but not in Fairway. (For a short period they had the very thin and dry "chow mein noodles", but they now don't even carry those any more)

                                          2. FAIRWAY in Red Hook is a terrific Supermarket. For those of us in Brownstone Brooklyn, before the arrival of FAIRWAY we were condemned to the hell of KEY FOOD, GRISTEDES, and the late d'AGOSTINO.

                                            The store is large, with spacious aisles, not to mention the 350 car parking lot on site. The people working there are courteous, helpful, and pleasant. There are enough employees to make check-out fast and easy almost all of the time. None of the surly attitude of KEY FOOD and its ilk.

                                            The prices are considerable lower than other places. Fage yogurt is $1.49 at FW, $1.99 at GARDEN of EDEN, and $2.49 at KF !

                                            The Cheese Department is excellent, with huge variety. The counter guy is knowledgeable and helpful, and tasting is encouraged. I always taste before I buy. The same cheese, like Roquefort, at the same price, from the same manufacturer, can differ from wheel to wheel. Two weeks ago, the Roquefort was sublime, this week, it was grainy and off. Le Petit Billy Chevre from France, one of my staples is $5.99 - two dollars less than G of E and MURRAYS.

                                            The chicken and poultry selection is fresh and excellent.

                                            The butcher I find over-priced... not as good, not cut to order, and the same price or more than STAUBITZ.

                                            The Fish Department varies. The Wild Shrimp are good, and cheap. They do not compare to the Wild Shrimp at FISH TALES, but for a crowd, I use them.

                                            Recently, I started buying Smoked Salmon and Gravlax. The counter guy must have trained as a surgeon. His slicing is perfection, just as good as ZABAR, at a much lower price. The Gravlax is excellent.

                                            The produce is sometimes excellent, with more and more Organic prodice every week.

                                            The Olive Oils, Vinegars, and Condiments sections are great.

                                            I still prefer to do shopping in specialty stores when I can, but FAIRWAY is terrific for many things.

                                            My family is very partial to their Brioche Loaf, which makes great French Toast, and I hollow out for a sort of Saucisse en Brioche. Their homemade Cinnamon Raisin Bread is divine, and makes a great Bread Pudding.

                                            The Rotisserie Murray's Chicken is excellent. The Fresh Pasta is good, as are the Home Made Sauces.

                                            It doesn't fall into the "food" category, but their bulk sizes of Bounty, toilet paper, soda, soda water, Pellegrino, by the case are a good buy.

                                            For those of us who prepare meals at home on a regular basis, it is a great resource. I don't buy prepared food as a rule, but for excellent ingredients, it can't be beat. It isn't the perfect solution, but it sure is a pleasure, and an improvement over what we had before.

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: Fleur

                                              "before the arrival of FAIRWAY we were condemned to the hell of KEY FOOD, GRISTEDES, and the late d'AGOSTINO. "

                                              Different strokes/folks, etc., but don't be harshin' on my 5th avenue Key Foods! You sound like you're much more of a chef than I ever will be, and so perhaps a good grocery store doesn't meet your needs, but for "basics plus", the 5th ave. Key Foods is more than adequate.

                                              1. re: Clinton Hiller

                                                It's great that Fairway moved in to Red Hook, but FLEUR is wrong to say all of Brooklyn was a wasteland before that.
                                                Sahadi's anyone?
                                                Chinatown?
                                                Three Guys "The Poor People's Friend" produce at 65th and Ft. Hamilton Parkway? They do much better than Fairway with the same basic Hunts Point suppliers.
                                                And so many others!

                                                and of course that VERY well run Fifth Ave Key Food that has a parking lot . . .

                                                1. re: pitu

                                                  SAHADI'S is a great store, but is not in any way a Supermarket. I don't know about your Key Food, but ours in Brooklyn Heights has narrow, always blocked aisles, cashiers with a bad attitude, and high prices. None too clean in addition.

                                                  FAIRWAY is a great all - purpose Supermarket, with lots of Gourmet options. It is constantly improving and carrying more and more products at lower and lower prices.

                                                  If you are shopping for a family on a regular basis, a good Supermarket is a necessity. I prefer to shop at a real butcher like STAUBITZ, a real fish store like FISH TALES. I find the prices are the same or lower than FAIRWAY on many items. For all around everyday grocery shopping, FAIRWAY gets my vote.

                                                  1. re: Fleur

                                                    Fleur,

                                                    Recognizing you as a frequent poster, and assuming you have a car (which I must assume if you are going to Fairway, no?), do try the 5th Ave Key Food at least once. It's as good as the frequent posts suggest.

                                                    1. re: jmj

                                                      the fifth ave key food is terribly overated on these boards. it's a key food, maybe a little glorified but nothing special. the gourmet items are overpriced and the produce, well as i said its a key food.

                                                      1. re: jmj

                                                        Thanks for the tip, but Key Food is still Key food. I find the prices much higher than FAIRWAY, no parking.

                                                        I am in Brooklyn Heights, and I do find that all the supermarkets are getting better because of the competition.

                                                        1. re: Fleur

                                                          I would agree about the competition leading to improvements.

                                                          Over the last 10 years the Montague St. Key Food has improved steadily, year after year. I think the Garden of Eden that opened 2 blocks away, FreshDirect, and Fairway all had a role.

                                                          Is this Key Food Fairway? Not at all. Do I live 1 block away and am happy to use it for soymilk, stonyfield farm yogurt, OJ, organic bread, bananas, grapes, Murray's chicken, etc? Sure!

                                                          Peter

                                                          P.S. Admittedly the cashiers have taken a notable turn for the lousy since the older, heavy-set manager died and the tall skinny young guy (Muhommed?) came in.

                                                          1. re: Fleur

                                                            As was mentioned previously, there is parking at the 5th Ave. Key Food. And Key Food is not Key Food, in the same way that Fairway is Fairywa--Key Food stores are independently operated. SOme are excellent, others are terrible. The Fifth Avenue Key Food does a great job stocking unusual items that are right for the neighborhood: Good pastas, sauces, a British food section, a wide selection of yogurts, etc. The management is also very helpful and open to suggestions for new items. The staff on the floor are extremely friendly and helpful. It is not a big deal to run in and get something and get out quickly, whereas at Fairway it is always an investment of time just to work your way through from the entrance to the checkout counters. Not to take away from Fairway, which I think is a good store too, and obviously has a much broader selection—but just wanted to point out that it is unfair to dismiss the Fifth Ave. Key Food without any knowledge of it. It is a good store that deserves credit for trying very hard—and succeeding—to be a cut above the average Brooklyn grocery.

                                                            1. re: gnosh

                                                              For a variety of reasons, I was way behind in my schedule today, so I drove to Key Food 5th Ave (10 minutes each way) instead of Fairway (30 minutes each way). Key Fifth is a pleasure, some things better than Fairway (especially a much bigger special list), some not as good. I normally go to Fairway, but when I can't Key Fifth is great.

                                                              Note when we first moved to Brooklyn 20+ years ago (Key Fifth had just opened), we did most of our shopping in Eagle. Unfortunately, the quality and selection of their meats has has deteriorated over the years and their prices have risen. So we have abandoned this local market for the more corporate Key and now Fairway.

                                                            2. re: Fleur

                                                              "Thanks for the tip, but Key Food is still Key food. I find the prices much higher than FAIRWAY, no parking."

                                                              Then you must be going to the wrong one. The Key Food on 5th Ave. in the Slope has a big parking lot. I doubt that will persuade you to skip a trip to Fairway but lots of people read this board and I wanted to clear that up.

                                                  2. dude, definitely go during the week. weekends can be intense and the overall experience just takes too damn long (drive there, shop/backtrack/checkout, load up car, drive home). also, i don't appreciate being carded for card purchases over $100 -- a threshold you reach in a heartbeat. on weekends, the deli counter is packed like zabar's pre-new year's, with the added bonus of monster-truck-rally challenges from daydreamers clogging aisles with the supersized shopping wagons. Overall, food A-; logistics C- (on weekends, yeah, I work).

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: martinkleinman

                                                      "also, i don't appreciate being carded for card purchases over $100 " really? we always have a bill over $100 and i've never been carded. maybe it depends on the cashier?

                                                      Fairways is great- it has the best prices and selection in the area, and i love the big parking lot (it does help that i have a car). the layout was bothersome at first, and seemed disorganized. but after a few trips to the store, i know where everything is, and can get in and out in a reasonable amount of time (not counting midday weekends).

                                                    2. The layout of the store made navigation such a chore that I ran for the checkout, where the checkers proved surly and incompetent. The traffic flow in the place is a nightmare.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Deboner

                                                        ooh never, ever had a surly or incompetant cashier! In fact they are the most educated ones I have ever seen. Drats, no more shallots at onion prices!

                                                      2. The prepackaged entrees are excellent. I get the shepherd's pie every couple of weeks and am always blown away by it. The lasagna is very good, particularly the mushroom. Also the freshly pressed olive oils. The Pugliese is particularly good.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: KRS

                                                          I'll have to try your recommendations. I second the rave on the Pugliese Olive Oil. I am almost finished with the 1 L bottle. I use it for salads and it is excellent... and the price ridiculously low.

                                                          I love being able to sample all the different Olive Oils.

                                                          If you go later in the day, like after 6, it is not that crowded.

                                                          1. re: KRS

                                                            Where do you find the freshly pressed ones? I've seen the massive wall o' oil, but that's all bottled stuff.

                                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                                              There is an Olive Oil tasting bar near the Bakery. If you ask, I'm sure they will direct you towards it. They have about 8 different oils to taste, with bread for dipping, of course.

                                                              1. re: Fleur

                                                                To be a little more specific - at least when I was last there: after leaving the produce section, you pass the meat counter on your right and have the cheese counter straight ahead. If you turn left at the cheese counter, the olive oil bar will be on your left, on the inside of the turn. (Possibly better: if you're standing in front of the left side of the cheese counter, the olive oil tasting is right behind you.)

                                                          2. I'm surprised no one's noted this, but Fairway has amazing nuts. Better than Whole Foods, IMO. I don't know anywhere to get better cashews.

                                                            15 Replies
                                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                                              Have you tried the cashews from Sahadi's? Their unsalted cashews are my go-to snack.

                                                              1. re: EJC

                                                                good point; i can also pick up some babagounoush (the smokey stuff from the cooler, not the icky stuff from the takeout area!).

                                                                1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                  Well I think the best Babaganoush in that area is across the street either at Oriental Grocery or (sometimes) Waterfalls. In general, (IMO) Sahadis take-out does not compare to some of the other places on the Avenue. Give them a try!

                                                                  1. re: dimples

                                                                    without a doubt, waterfalls makes the best babaganoush on Atlantic Ave- maybe the entire city.

                                                                    1. re: josh L

                                                                      Funny coincidence. yesterday I missed Sahadi by five mins, so went to waterfalls for baba. I found it good-not-great, and the stuffed grape leaves were inert.

                                                                      I need to restress that I'm NOT talking about Sahadi's baba in the big bowl available at the takeout counter. I'm talking about the packaged baba in the self-serve case.

                                                                      1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                        the smoked salmon- eastern is great. i find their meat quality to be hit or miss. for example, i've bought wonderful baby lamb chops but once went there specifically for osso bucco and it looked wayyyyy past its prime.

                                                                        1. re: giftergirl

                                                                          Their wild alaskan salmon (previously frozen, of course) right now is KILLER.

                                                                        2. re: Jim Leff

                                                                          that's odd. maybe, we have different taste in babaganoush. was haifa, the owner around? i've found the food is not as good when she is absent. either way, the babaganoush at waterfalls is usually incredibly smokey, smooth and lucious with a hint of spice. The Sahadi babaganoush is good but not made with as much care and has less flavor,

                                                                          1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                            Sahadi no longer stocks the smokey baba gounoush. See this thread:
                                                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/403841

                                                                      2. re: Jim Leff

                                                                        I've heard others discuss this mysterious smoky baba from "the cooler" yet I've never encountered it. Is it in the frozen cooler near the takeout or the fridge cooler near the nuts/candy? And how is it packaged, does it have a brand name?

                                                                        1. re: Produce Addict

                                                                          Josh, no, waterfall's owner wasn't there. But, fwiw, I'm not convinced we're talking about the same Sahadi baba.

                                                                          Produce addict, it's been too long, and they've surely shifted the position of the mysterious cooler. It's NOT commercial, it's made at Laila restaurant in park slope (which was great once, but tremendously inconsistent now). But it is prepackaged.

                                                                          I'll go locate the cooler. Maybe create a google map or something.

                                                                          1. re: Produce Addict

                                                                            historically its been in the cooler next to the olives (the one with yogurt, feta etc. Id be surprised if it was moved.

                                                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                                                              I know that cooler--and does the baba say Laila on it? Thanks again! Jim, when you say "tremendously inconsistent" you mean Laila's itself, not their baba right?

                                                                              Thanks!!

                                                                              1. re: Produce Addict

                                                                                baba does NOT say "laila" on it. That was some sleuthing I did back in the mid 1980's :)

                                                                                Laila is tremendously inconsistent, and their baba is, too. Sometimes balance is off. But it's usually real real good, and vastly better than the bland stuff in the big bowl in the sahadi appetizer counter.

                                                                                1. re: Produce Addict

                                                                                  I dont remember the packaged baba as being labeled as coming from Laila - think I would have noticed, but its been years since I bought it so that means little.