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Bristol Farms, La Jolla

After reading about this place in passing on here, finally made it over to check it out. I found it to be kind of an odd place, with a wildly varying range of stuff.

Pros:
Some incredible meat, including Wagyu beef in a variety of cuts, USDA prime, and game. Very impressive wine and spirits selection. Anchor Old Potrero, a good variety of single malts, Suntory single malt (which I've been dying to try but have never seen), real German schnapps, lots of tequilas, etc. Beer selection was good compared to regular supermarket, but nothing particularly unusual. I came home w/ a bottle of Clear Creek Distillery 8 year old apple brandy aged in French oak. Very nice! Bakery section looked pretty impressive, though some of the desserts were clearly not made in-house - I've seen some of the same stuff at Whole Foods. The cheese selection was also quite nice, definitely some great options to be found there.

Cons:
Cafe was kind of nasty. All the food looked like it had been sitting out way too long. I would definitely not eat there with how it was looking. Maybe its hit and miss? Also a lot of low-grade commercial food products mixed in with the gourmet goodies. Some of the breads were exactly the same as you'd find at Vons or Ralphs. A surprisingly high number of convenience food items throughout the store. It made me wonder why their selection was so schizophrenic.

I think I would go back for the meat, and for the spirits. It's nice to have an option for good whiskey that doesn't involve a 40 minute drive to Escondido.

Has anyone else shopped there regularly? What did I miss?

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  1. I don't think you missed anything - the things you emphasized are definitely the high points, the cheeses and the meat counter in particular. The produce is nothing to write home about, but they do have a nice wine selection and some interesting deli items, like pickled cherries, cornichons, good pate, etc. They also have some good canned and packaged items and frozen goods, like American Flatbread Pizzas, Zambeedo and McConnell's ice creams, and this week I even found Vosges ice cream - which was very good, but exorbitantly priced at $7.99 a pint. (I love the chocolates so I had to try it - I got the Belgian Chocolate with Pandan Leaf and Wattleseed flavors, they also had a spicy chocolate called "Red Fire" and a coconut curry flavor called "Naga.")

    I think you hit it on the head when you said there are " a lot of low grade commercial food products mixed in with the gourmet goodies." It's owned by Albertson's, so I assume that explains the mixture. They want to be high end, but the quality just isn't consistent. I go for the cheeses and to pick up necessities once in a while b/c my grandmother lives in the complex, but I probably wouldn't shop there much, if at all, otherwise.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alice Q

      Ahh, Albertsons. That explains it. No wonder it's so haphazard.

    2. I've been through there a few times and found most of the stuff to be unremarkable, given that I can get everything I need at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods for cheaper prices. I agree w/ the hot food counter--a lot of it is "ok" at best and doesn't have visual appeal. I've eaten the food a few times and found it to be ok, not anything that was great. Whole Foods' cafe and take out is definitely more creative and fresher, although sometimes I've had to sprinkle a bit of salt on it to bring out the flavors.

      Alice Q--thanks for the heads up on Vogues' ice cream--the Red Fire is very good! And now I don't have to wait for a trip to Vegas to get my fix!

      1 Reply
      1. re: daantaat

        You're welcome! I like the Pandan and Wattleseed flavors - I will have to try the Red Fire on my next visit! I also do most of my shopping at Trader Joes - but I have kind of switched over from Whole Foods to Peoples in OB. I manage to make it over there at least every other week, which was as often as I used to get deliveries from Be Wise Farms. I like that they label the locally produced items on the shelf. The big drawbacks are that they don't sell meat, or beer/wine, but I can get those things elsewhere.

      2. they are the only place i know of in NC that serves FRESH ahi poke'.... they also have fresh white or brown rice. i get that alot for lunch. just like they do it in hawaii.

        extremely healthy too with summer almost here.

        1. I think you pretty much described Bristol Farms - excellent (but very expensive and often non-organic) meat and cheese, interesting wines and spirits, ok food in cafe but everything else pretty much average and often overpriced.

          BTW, Bristol Farms (as Albertson) is now part of Supervalu.

          1. Are you talking about the Cafe or the take-out counters? They're different. You can't eat take-out counter food in the cafe (really a bizarre situation, but...), I think they only have a couple tables outside and a few tables by the check-out counters for take-out counter "dining". The cafe's food is pretty unexceptional (burgers, sandwiches, salads mostly), but it's not represented by the food at the take-out counters.