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Jun 29, 2007 08:13 AM

Outstanding Supermarket Food in the West....

Interested to know of any recommendations for in your opinion outstanding "gourmet quality" supermarket food, be it Sobeys, Safeway, Co-op, Superstore, Save-On, Thrifty or even smaller retailers like Sunterra.

It doesn't matter what type of food - bakery, deli, meat, produce even fish!

Back in the UK, supermarket food of all types is regularly scrutinised by the media as in the link below & the likes of M&S, Waitrose, Tesco & Sainsburys often sell extremely good food.

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  1. Where exactly in the West?? From my experience in Edmonton, generally "gourmet quality" and supermarket food are non sequitor, sorry. The only exception would be the Italian Centre, which is a dream for someone who loves food. I believe there might also be a location in Calgary (?). Italian Centre has a great selection of produce, pastas, oils and vinegars, sparkling water (that's important to me!) and the deli is fantastic (buffalo milk boccincini, great deli meats and a really awesome olives selection). Their chocolate selection is lacking though. And, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think they have a butcher. What they do stock is generally pretty strong though.

    Not sure if this answers your question.

    8 Replies
    1. re: littlegreenpea

      Anywhere in the West - most of the big chains stock the same products be their store in Victoria or Thunder Bay! I use Lina's in Calgary - a great Italian supermarket in my humble opinion.

      Come on there must be something worth buying in one of the big chains?

      I've had really good fresh salmon from Safeway - as good as anywhere I have bought it.

      1. re: graemejw

        We had dinner at the cafe at Sunterra at West Market Square in Calgary. Aside from somewhat slow service (we arrrived around 7:30, at the end of what was evidently a dinner rush), I have to say that the food was excellent. Partner had a burger with gouda- very nice, great bun, uninteresting sides but still a really good burger. Mine was penne with shrimp in an alfredo sauce with fresh chives and fresh parmesan. It was terrific. perfectly cooked pasta that might have, seriously, been served at Capo. I'd go there again for that. with eight decent sized and perfectly cooked shrimp to boot.

        As far as groceries, we mostly saw things that one can find at most supermarkets, with an important exception (one of many, I'm sure) that Sunterra is the lone Calgary source for Elsa's Story products, from Israel- their fig confiture is beyond amazing and they have a line of the most beautiful cookies you'll ever see.

        1. re: John Manzo

          Thanks John - i will check out the confiture & cookies as I use Sunterra often - i really like their spicy pork patties from the butchers dept. - truly excellent on the BBQ.

          Talking of jam - I bought some Saskatoon Berry Jam from Cochrane Farmer's Mkt last Saturday - the producer was Three Sisters out of Calgary - they had a range of pies, jams, jellys & maramalades & this was truly the best jam i have ever tasted. Not sure where else they are selling - but this was top notch product from a local producer.

        2. re: graemejw

          It occurred to me that T&T supermarket is likely a great source for asian food products, though I haven't been.

          Save-On-Foods has a very small, but not irrelevant, imported food section: St. Dalfour jam from France, German and French mustards, etc.

          And, maybe I haven't been hitting the right Sunterra, but I've been less than impressed with both their hot prepared food and their grocery products. I'll have to try another location.

          1. re: graemejw

            My local Sobey's actually has one of the best deli counters I've seen outside of an ethnic or specialty store. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be the standard for some of the other IGA/Sobey's locations.

            1. re: anonymoose

              You know you're going to have to tell us where it is now?

              I've set out to do a supermarket tour this summer. They all have better and worse parts. Maybe together they make one good market?

              I haven't made it to Sobey's yet. The closest is Royal Oaks so I'll check out the deli.

              Preliminary and very idiosyncratic results:
              Costco: best meat and cheapest pharmacy, Superstore: best produce and ethnic supplies, Safeway: best for .... um ... Airmiles. Safeway does have some good soups, the sandwiches that are made to order and the meat if you don't want to separate 5 kg of steak into reasonable servings.

              1. re: sharonanne

                Sobey's Beaumaris at 15367 Castledowns Road. There's another one just off of 97 st and 137 Ave, but the Beaumaris one is much, much better.

                And not all Superstores have good produce. The one in the NW usually has horrible produce and has issues with keeping shelf items in stock. In comparison I went to the one in South Common and practically fell over in shock over how much better that location was.

                1. re: anonymoose

                  My best produce award went to the Superstore based on sugar snap peas for half the Safeway price. Grean beans from Safeway seem to go bad overnight. I also found tahini at Superstore when I failed to at Safeway. Better than Safeway is not really a very high endorsement.

        3. I really miss Urban Fare in Vancouver - it's part of Save-On-Foods but since Calgary is a Co-Op town I don't imagine it will come to this market.

          Urban Fare had great gourmet items, butcher, bakery and their prepared food was great too - their roast chickens were delicious and you never worried about the safety of them like all the other grocery store chickens....

          2 Replies
          1. re: pants


            I am surprised that Urban Fare has not attempted to make a go of it in Calgary despite their failure here in Edmonton.

            Some things they did fairly well, others too expensive and "trendy"...square watermelons, $100 loaves of bread, etc.

            Its initial attraction for me was "one stop quality shopping" rather than going to the Italian Centre for cold cuts, Debaji's [now long gone as well] for vegetables, Sunterra for lamb or Bee Bell Bakery for breads and pastries you could them all at the one location.

            However, as time progressed they cut back on staff hence service and quality.

            I know Doug Hicks the owner of the Crestwood Liquor Store must miss their business as it quite common for me drop in and buy dinner [the chicken you mentioned or ribs] or the fix'ins for dinner and then decide what wine I wanted from his store.

            He also supplied the wine sold in their small seating area. Quite a "civilized" way to shop [smile].

            1. re: Bob Mac

              there is a liquor store next to the one in vancouver as well, it was very handy, except that with all the restictions in BC for selling alcohol they were never open when we wanted them to be (evenings, sundays...)

              yes, some item were over the top...but i think i miss the meat counter the most, lots of choice and you could buy a little or a lot and the prepared stuff, ready for the oven was good too - safeway needs to get on that whole meat counter concept, they haven't quite got the hang of it - the new midtown market co-op here is a pretty good alternative but they stopped putting out these great little roasts - they were a nice cut of meat and the perfect size for two people with left overs to make shepherd's pie the next day :)

          2. This one slipped my mind tho I mentioned it here before- the pizza at the Co-op Midtown Market is spectacular, best NY-ish style slices in town, and not bad prices.