Le Creuset Outlets- worth it?
Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to see/check out any Le Creuset outlet stores, but I see on their website that there's a good number of them around. Just wanted to see if anyone has been to them recently- was it worth going to, or is it mostly random pieces in the unpopular colors? Particularly want to hear if anyone's been to the Leesburg VA outlet or any of the ones in NY/NJ, as those would be the ones that are most convenient for me.
I'm specifically in the market for my first dutch oven, so if anyone has any suggestions on what size to get, that would be greatly appreciated also! (I'm cooking for two most of the time, but is the 2 3/4qt. too small even for two?)
Sorry for rambling, and thanks in advance for any input!
I personally would go larger. 5-6 qt is a good size for soups, stews and braises. You can save yourself some $ and try a similar item by Martha Stewart, Chefmate, Calphalon, Lodge and others. I have a 5.5 qt Innova enameled dutch oven and it is a work horse in my kitchen. I think I got it from SmartBargins.com for $39 shipped. Before dropping $200+ even at the outlet stores give one of these inexpensive ones a try.
When I sell people their first piece(I work in a kitchen store) I recommend the 5.5 round unless they have a big family. This is a versatile piece...big enough without being too big for just a few people. Not too small.
I cook for two myself and my 3.5 buffet and my 5.5 round are the two I use the most.
As for the outlets, I've done well at them myself. The one here in AZ has a good selection of firsts in the full range of colors and a very well stocked seconds wall. The flaws on the seconds are really minimal(most of mine are "seconds"...in all cases it was missprayed paint. Check carefully of course). They often have additional sales and that's how I've picked mine up...the last spree I went on was an additional 30% off...I picked all seconds so ended up doing really well.
Otherwise if the full retail price is a stretch you might look at either the Chefmate at Target or the Mario Batali pieces. I've used both and they perform very well and don't seem to chip. Also check Home Goods and the like for LC at a discount(usually comparable to the first quality outlet pricing)
The outlets are spectacular. They have a great selection including some pieces that are difficult to find anywhere else and I've always found great prices on some items each time I've gone. (I've been to the one in Leesburg...that's a "Premium Outlet" mall, right?...it's good and very much the same as the two or three other "Premium Outlets" I've been to.) Especially if you're flexible on what color you get, the outlet is a brilliant way to save some money.
I agree with the other posters that a 5.5qt round dutch oven is the one to start with. Large enough to handle a chicken, small enough to actually pick it up when full.
I guess they're like most anything; some folks like them and some don't. I believe those that don't are more fond of finding deals at Marshall's and perhaps e-bay. Personally, I'd rather just go to the outlet. They have firsts and seconds and a wide variety of LC poterie, too. Plus all sorts of accessories and gadgets, some of which are deeply discounted. If you go be sure to get your name on the mailing list (you may be able to do this on their website as well) and they will send a mailer alerting you of upcoming sales. They had a pre-Christmas sale last year in November if I recall that offered an added discount to folks on their mailing list. It's worth a shot. Nothing ventured...
I went to the one at Tanger Outlet out in Riverhead, LI this summer and I was stunned to see that it was MORE expensive than buying at Bed Bath and Beyond with a coupon. They weren't having a sale though, so maybe that would make a difference, but they all looked like full retail prices to me.
For the first quality, not-on-sale items that can definitely be the case. As flourgirl notes, the deals/steals at the Le Crueset outlets are the seconds and the on-sale items (they've always had a color of the month sale going on when I've been). Even then, always pays a bit to shop around when you're looking at dropping $150 or so on a pot.