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What do NYC residents really think about Dean & DeLuca?

I went here friday morning and their baked goods always look so good. We shared a carrot cake cup cake. And as in the past I get so disappointed when they turn out stale. Do you NYC residents go here or is it just a tourist trap? Richie

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  1. It can be expensive and the baked goods are from other places. But they do carry Balthazar's oat scones which are among my favorite things in the world. The soups and the salad tasting plates can be good too. (I go to the University place one).

    3 Replies
    1. re: maxine

      There is one on Madison Avenue quite close to where I live, but I rarely go there, because the produce is often a mixed bag - pretty large selection, but they are usually out some basics, and some of the produce looks pretty worse for wear. The fish also looks like it has been sitting around for a while. The cheese selection is quite good. But overall, for the prices, I'd rather go elsewhere. I've not had problems with baked goods being stale, and they do have a nice selection of baked goods from various NYC area bakeries, and also have pain de mie, which I love. I think the Prince St. store is better. Oddly, it is the cheapest place that I've found for Emmi yogurts!

      1. re: maxine

        off-subject - the oat scones at Amy's are my fave - particularly the banana pecan!

        1. re: elizabeththinks

          Love Amy's cherry cream scone. But, try Levain's also--delicious.

      2. I was very excited when they first opened on 85th and Madison. The charm has worn off-those prices are absolutely ridiculous and a slap in the face to the nabe. $12/lb for prepared cauliflower? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze! Not always the freshest food either. I recently bought several different types of herring. One was so old it was liquified! Many of thier so called gourmet items are from cans which they set out on display-i haveseen them do it with my own eyes. And the guy who slices salmon-he thinks he is doing us a favor-always a real grouch and seems bothered everytime i place an order.The one pet peeve i really have is seeing workers nosh with thier hands between customers or shoving food in thier mouths when they don't think others are watching. I have seen this too many times so now take my business elsewhere except for thier soups which are great.I am not disgruntled for petty reasons-BUT if you are going to charge these price-well better shape up!!!

        1. Tourist trap all the way. It is incredibly overpriced, and you can get most things elsewhere.

          1. Great concept. Great looking store for browsing. Too bad I never actually buy anything there. Everything is completely overpriced and obtainable elsewhere, often for far less. I prefer Zabars during the middle of the week--much better prices, very similar, if not better product mix (in fact Zabars cookware selection is far better), much higher turnover for freshness.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ora

              I agree completely. Dean and DeLuca is overpriced for what they have that's good, and not so hot for a lot of their items. I prefer Zabars and/or Gourmet Garage for everything.

            2. I have never enjoyed the baked goods from D&D. They always looked amazing, the idea was greta, but everything I bought was always very dry and the best ingredients were not used. Always disappointing. I agree with everyone else on this -- fabulous to browse. Tourist trap all the way -- you can find better quality everything at better prices elsewhere. And with better help and shorter lines!

              1. It was a great place for many years. In many ways it was the template for the urban gourmet store.

                Once they were sold, however, and expanded, the stores are really not worth going out of your way for.

                3 Replies
                1. re: floretbroccoli

                  I agree.

                  1. re: floretbroccoli

                    the same holds true for Balducci's, imho.

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      I was just gonna say add: Balducci's.. A shadow of its formerly grand self. Shame.

                  2. They're often good for when you need a somewhat estoric product. i've gone to get stuff like clotted cream before. The premade coffees are pretty decent.

                    1. I go there to get bread, they have the best selection in the city, it's always fresh and the prices are good. The employees are aome of the most pleasant around.

                      1. What is useful about D&D is that for breads, pastries, cakes, cookies etc., they have a selection of some of the better purveyors in the city all in one place. For example, Sage cupcakes, S&S cheesecake, Blackhound cakes, Balthazar breads and pastries, Amy's and One Girl Cookies, Sullivan Street pizzas. So I can go there, a few blocks away, as opposed to running all over town for these things. Their prepared foods are lackluster, but the roasted chicken at the 85th Street branch is excellent. They also have great apple fritters from a purveyor in Queens, whose name I cannot remember.

                        1. I haven't even been inside for quite some time, but when I did go, I found the prices so expensive it was a joke! I would never go there and buy anything. I don't think it's just tourists going there, though. A certain segment of the population here likes expensive places for snob appeal, just because they're expensive.

                          1. A long time ago there were few food stores, D&D and Balducci's. Almost nothing in the outer boroughs. These days there are many more choices including chains like Whole Foods. D&D is not a destination anymore. Does Balducci's exist?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Geo8rge

                              Balducci's exists - I think there is one on W. 14th Street - but it was bought out by Sutton Place Gourmet (DC area), which then renamed all the stores Balducci's. Nothing like the original though.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                Believe it or not the "new" Balducci's is not that bad... way better than the last incarnation on 6th. The deli counter may be the highlight, especially the RB which is much better than it's Garden of Edan counterpart (imo).

                            2. I think it depends how long you've been here. In my opionion, at this point, it's a combination of tourist, not exactly "trap", but attraction and a grossly overpriced local supermarket for the neighborhood.

                              I don't swoon over their baked goods (they're fine, but nothing special) and many of their prices, especially for "basic" stuff, are literally laughably high. I mean, like, 2x the price for a bottle of Heineken that you'd pay around the corner or 1 1/2 the price for the same frozen-from-Ecuador shrimp you can buy anywhere (including fairly cheap in Chinatown, not far away.) I don't think much of their meat and seafood in general, you can do better at dedicated butchers or even Citarellas which started out the other way around - went from being a butcher shop to a more general "gourmet store." D&D went the other way around.

                              Ironically, the stuff that is inherently pricier (balsamic vinegar, cheeses, charcuterie) is less outrageously priced compared to their competition, but unfortunately, they've moved somewhat away from that toward being a sort of supermarket for the rich and botox-ed that swooped in on Soho back when it was still Soho....

                              Like most places that have "gone big," they carry less and less of the really unusual or esoteric stuff anymore. How can they when they have to have enough to sell in all their stores PLUS their catalog? And of course these days, few businesses are willing to carry or source things that may not sell out quickly.

                              25 years ago the places was really cool; these days, in part because the whole concept has become so fashionable/trendy and has been imitated (often poorly), they don't stand out. But that's true of all the standbys - faced with competition from the up and comers, they must unfortunately cater (or pander) to the wants and expectations created by a fairly different "class" of the same of type of store and that too often "ruins" it for those of us who liked it the way it was... (See MMRuth's comment about Balducci's - compared to the original, the latter day chain is both offensive and silly....)

                              But what can you do? What goes around, comes around and vice versa. ;)

                              One final comment: their cheese is too expensive, but at least as of a couple of years ago that department was very well run indeed. If that was really Steve Jenkins; doing, I guess he just gave up and sold out when he moved on to Fairway because their cheese department sucks out loud (as well as stinks, in a bad way) to high heaven. But then, it's the same deal. Prices are more OK for the inherently expensive cheeses than for the run of the mill stuff, even "run of the mill" in a more esoteric sense. For basic "good cheese," I go to Zabar's; for a really properly aged version of something that really needs the correct handling, I go to Murray's or Dean & DeLuca in that order. (Murray's is still a little cheaper, but has a somewhat less extensive selection, usually.)