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TESCO Fresh and Easy

e
empowah Nov 8, 2007 04:12 PM

The grand opening of their "#1" US store (Glassell Park/Eagle Rock) was today. I went earlier and can't say I'm too impressed. It's like a normal supermarket but with their own "fresh and easy" brand products, like "fresh and easy" tater tots, ice cream, and cheese nips.

Their specialty is in "prepared-but-not-frozen foods", so think refrigerated sandwiches, refrigerated cooked pasta, and refrigerated Thai rice bowls. It's a bit like buying leftovers from a family's fridge.

Still, I can see its appeal. It looks more modern and sophisticated than most supermarkets, or at least the front half is, and everything is nicely repackaged in friendly pastel colors, simple graphics, and lowercase fonts. This was most impressive in the meat/fish/seafood section, where color-added salmon fillets, pork meatballs, skinless chicken breasts and such were immaculately presented in clear plastic cases. This is where Rachel Ray goes to get groceries for her 30 minute meals. (Apparently when making mock up F&Es, they claimed it was a movie set.)

As far as offering something rare or exceptional, there wasn't much. The cheese selection is good - they have everything from Stilton Blue to wet mozz balls - and the $5 pate looked interesting. There's a lot of pre-marinated and sauced meats (carne asada, fajita kits, etc), which sounds like the sort of nearly-expired crap you'd find at a supermarket meat counter, but fresh&easy's actually looks, well, fresh. There's the typical Trader Joe's stuff as well - Vodka pasta sauce, $.99 pizza dough, and several varieties of hummus. They have their own brand of kid's lunches, with cool little mazes to boot, but Lunchables are available, just in case.

Overall I think it does live up to its name. Everything looks fresh (although the expiration dates for some of the sushi and sandwiches were today, but maybe that's the nature of fresh-not-frozen-or-preserved food) and easy -- the meat, for instance, looks nicely prepped, rinsed, and ready to be used. It's easy to plan a semi-homemade meal just walking up and down the aisles. And while there isn't a choice of brands, the packaging gives an assurance of quality ("everything just looks so damn good!" I heard someone remark), and not having to choose saves time. You could say it's either grocery shopping simplified or dumbed down.

It was opening day today, so it was jam-packed. The self-check-out-with-the-aid-of-an-employee lines were long and the only ones available, so I didn't buy anything. There were some curious locals and families, but mostly the crowd consisted of professionals, urbanites, TV reporters, and notebook-yielding competitors donned in suits. There weren't enough parking spaces (a hulking Toyota Land Cruiser and Honda Pilot took up the two "hybrid only" spaces), so I parked in front of someone's house instead. On the sidewalk were protestors against Tesco's labor and environmental policies. Near the entrance, Tesco employees countered with pamphlets claiming the contrary.

Part of Tesco's claims is to bring grocery stores to "food islands", which the Glassell Park location is (a Trader Joe's and Super-A are both a mile away). But the Glassell Park store is an exception, most are in already supermarket-saturated neighborhoods, and their product selection and prices for these objectives are questionable.

Still I think it'll do well, especially in more suburban areas. The advertising, graphic design, marketing, and product development people have definitely done their homework.

  1. Chowpatty Nov 8, 2007 04:26 PM

    Thanks for the report -- I thought of checking it out today but was too tired from Whole Foods yesterday. It sounds about like I imagined. Some of that premade stuff always looks pretty scary at supermarkets, but if it looks better, maybe I'll try some of it and report back.

    1. b
      buttermarblepopcorn Nov 8, 2007 04:43 PM

      Yeah, thank you for the thorough and descriptive report! This underwhelmed report (which I completely believe) reminds me of Famima!! a little bit, in that I was so excited in the beginning to go, and then after a few visits with obligatory purchases (just to be nice), I completely lost interest. It does sound like Tesco's Fresh and Easy won't be worth dragging my butt out of Torrance and away from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's just to be in a place that has cutely packaged prepared foods I can make myself. Oh well. I'll probably still swing by the Manhattan Beach one whenever it opens.

      Thanks again!!

      1. h
        Heidi Nov 8, 2007 04:45 PM

        Probably wishful thinking on my part, but did they happen to have any British products, like tea and biscuits?

        22 Replies
        1. re: Heidi
          Chowpatty Nov 8, 2007 04:51 PM

          I don't mean to be rude, but why would people get the impression that a huge multinational retailer that wants to become like Wal-Mart and is moving into lower-income areas would stock British products, just because it is based in Britain? I don't think the residents of Hemet are pining for their crumpets. It's not the Tudor House -- it's pre-packaged carne asada.
          So, no.

          1. re: Chowpatty
            k
            kazhound Nov 8, 2007 06:08 PM

            that's too bad. i too was hoping for the tesco brand english products i used to love.

            1. re: Chowpatty
              hrhboo Nov 8, 2007 10:07 PM

              Why wouldn't people get that impression? If Ralph's or Costco opened in a foreign country, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect to find Kroger or Kirkland products there.

              Tesco stocks major brands but they also make a ton of snacks, cereals and a zillion other food and household products under their own label. It's not that far-fetched to wonder if those will be stocked here.

              1. re: hrhboo
                e
                Ernie Nov 9, 2007 06:03 AM

                Yes, in fact Costco in Japan carries the exact same Kirkland branded items as in the U.S.. Even the pizza and hot dogs are the same over there.

                1. re: hrhboo
                  s
                  smartie Apr 16, 2008 08:56 PM

                  Costco in the UK stock a lot of American products including the Kirkland band.

                2. re: Chowpatty
                  i
                  iheartcheese Nov 10, 2007 09:44 AM

                  You're right on that, and I'd take it a step further to say Tesco doesn't want to become like Wal-mart, it already operates that way in most of the dozen other countries where it has set up shop. This is the first time Tesco has entered a country without its first format being huge a supercenter/hypermarket, and they've been criticized for supply chain abuses, much the same as Wal-Mart.
                  Perhaps a little less like Wal-Mart, Tesco tends to do their homework and try to blend in with the locals as best as possible, which has proved complicated for the company when local cuisine (freshly slaughtered turtle) conflicts with the values of Tesco's home country.
                  It's actually a little depressing to me to know that Tesco did their homework here and came up with a rather aesthetically bland store that sells mini corn dogs, chips ahoy, shrink-wrapped veggies and Tide laundry detergent! I guess I've been living in the TJ's bubble.

                  1. re: Chowpatty
                    b
                    Bippy Apr 28, 2011 07:55 AM

                    They do have several UK products, marmite, hp sauce. Nothing though that can't be found elsewhere.

                    1. re: Bippy
                      Dommy Apr 28, 2011 09:23 AM

                      Well we found ONE thing they have that is hard to find elsewhere, even in LA. Rashers... thank GAWD they have Rashers...

                      --Dommy!

                      1. re: Dommy
                        b
                        Bippy Apr 28, 2011 12:34 PM

                        Do you mean like British Bacon ? !

                        If so they were out when I went (near end of opening day, so quite likely) and if they have them in next week it is awesome :)

                        1. re: Bippy
                          Dommy Apr 28, 2011 08:15 PM

                          YEP! They have it in the meat case near the ham. Nice THICK slices too... perfect for proper breakfast! :)

                          --Dommy!

                  2. re: Heidi
                    w
                    writergirl Nov 8, 2007 06:50 PM

                    I haven't been to F&E, so I don't know if they have biscuits etc (mmm, Hob Nobs) but I agree it would be surprising if they did. However you can get a lot of that stuff at places like Cost Plus. They have Hob Nobs (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and plain) rich tea biscuits, etc. And PG tips brand tea. Lots of other British goodies as well. It's cheap too. I don't even bother asking people to bring stuff back from the UK anymore, it's so easy to come by, even some of the larger branches of chain grocery stores have British food.

                    1. re: Heidi
                      p
                      Papuli Nov 8, 2007 11:43 PM

                      Actually, when I went today I was sort of laughing about how some of the products had a kind of British spin. For instance, it seemed like most of the store-brand frozen dinners were Indian. And we all know Indian food is the best part of British cuisine, right? :)
                      Also, in the poultry section there were ENORMOUS turkey legs. How very Ren Faire!

                      1. re: Heidi
                        r
                        robl Nov 9, 2007 07:18 AM

                        British Products? I didn't read your post until after my visit, but one of the items I do recall seeing is British Back Bacon for $4.99/# (Fresh & Easy Brand) I looked for clotted cream, as I sometimes like to have that, but I was not able to find any.

                        Also of note, many prepared foods are available as mentioned, but anything that you would eat hot or warm requires heating at home, there are no hot prepared foods, and no food bars. Everything with little exception is in a package which is alarming, even though they state environmental friendly packaging is used...my question is all of the packaging even necessary?

                        1. re: robl
                          i
                          iheartcheese Nov 10, 2007 09:25 AM

                          Everything is packaged (including every piece of whole produce they sell) because it's all self-checkout (or as I believe they prefer to call it, "guided" checkout.)

                          1. re: robl
                            FoodieKat Nov 12, 2007 10:17 AM

                            This is good to know. I have been keeping an eye out for opening dates for the local F & E stores in my area, as my hubby is British and has been looking everywhere for proper 'bangers'. And I miss the selection of biscuits (local Albertsons has decent selection but not the same).

                            1. re: FoodieKat
                              b
                              Bjartmarr Dec 10, 2007 11:34 PM

                              Proper bangers are available frozen at either of the two tea rooms on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and 2nd St. in Santa Monica.

                              1. re: Bjartmarr
                                Dommy Dec 14, 2007 04:08 PM

                                The ones at Bob's Market in Santa Monica are also really tasty! :)

                                --Dommy!

                                1. re: Bjartmarr
                                  notmartha Dec 14, 2007 07:21 PM

                                  The Winston Irish bangers I got from Tudor's House at SM are the best I've tried yet.

                                  There's also a grocery store called British Grocer's near the Olde Shipe at Fullerton. I know I've seen bangers there, but can't recall if they are Winston's. I know they stock lots of biscuits but Cost Plus Imports also have a decent selection of biscuits and cadburys.

                                  1. re: notmartha
                                    FoodieKat Feb 11, 2008 02:17 PM

                                    I found bangers- and even closer to home! Sprouts in Irvine sells bangers in their butchers counter.

                              2. re: robl
                                a
                                avena Jan 31, 2008 08:04 AM

                                How is British Back Bacon different from regular bacon? And is the F&E version comparable to the stuff in the UK? (Is it worth my $5?)

                                1. re: avena
                                  notmartha Jan 31, 2008 12:12 PM

                                  I believed it's a different part of the pig - instead of belly it's back of a pig. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_bacon

                                  Actually, it's not cured with nitrates, so it taste less smokey and less salty. It seems to be more meaty at one side than regular bacon, with still enough fat on another side closer to the skin.

                                  I prefer it to the nitrates cured pork belly bacon, but tastes are so subjective. Never had it in UK, so can't compare.

                                  1. re: notmartha
                                    a
                                    avena Jan 31, 2008 02:05 PM

                                    Thanks for the info!

                            2. j
                              Joani Macaroni Nov 8, 2007 04:48 PM

                              Thanks for the report - saw the OC Register article but none of the planned stores are near me - doesn't sound like I'm missing much as I make most meals from "scratch."

                              1. DiveFan Nov 8, 2007 06:11 PM

                                Web site showing locations is in the link.

                                -----
                                Fresh & Easy
                                4211 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90065

                                1. l
                                  Layne Murphy Nov 8, 2007 06:31 PM

                                  Some pictures from Eagle Rock on my, until this evening, long dormant food blog http://manifeasto.blogspot.com/

                                  We drive past the Fresh and Easy every morning and have been waiting eagerly for it to open. We have no kitchen due to a remodel gone horribly awry and we have lived for months on prepared foods and while we appreciate the quality we are sick to death of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. We were looking forward to some good alternatives at the new Tesco venture. We arrived at about 6 and the store was jammed. It was obvious that a lot of the prepared foods had been sold out but what was there, to me looked tragically unappetizing. There were pints of coleslaw swimming in liquid and bags of brownish salad greens. We tasted a salty, rather acrid tortilla soup. I circled the store three times trying to find one acceptable item to feed my husband. I ended up with some lackluster chicken fajitas. These are prepared foods of the ilk that one finds at Vons and bear no comparison to what is offered at T.J.’s or Whole Foods. There are frozen store brand dinners in the freezer and perhaps it was just the incredibly unattractive packaging and graphics but I truly would rather eat a Lean Cuisine. There was one aisle of meat and chicken and perhaps two different fish choices, all heavily packaged and far less interesting than even the scant butcher items at Trader Joe’s. The produce was all packaged and none looked farm fresh. The store carries a lot of non-Tesco products but mainly really junky brands of cookies and cereals and other items I would never buy. The store will probably do well as a smaller version of the Albertson’s it replaced. The quality is comparable to a big chain grocery and will never replace Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and farmer’s markets as our major source of foodstuffs.

                                  I also found the store stark and ugly with a crummy warehouse ambience. I’m not sure either whether I’ll ever be able to get into the groove of scanning and bagging my own groceries.

                                  1. p
                                    pacynby Nov 8, 2007 08:22 PM

                                    Thanks for the details. However, I disagree with you on some of your observations. Yes, the lines were long on the day of GRAND OPENING, what else do you expect? You're going to get all the lookie loo's and it's going to be hella' busy. You found sushi and sandwiches with today's date..since you paid close attention to the details, you would have known that this is actually the sell by date, not the expiration date. Don't knock them down by giving it a bad image on the first day. I happened to be there today also and I asked an employee about the dates. He explained that this stuff gets delivered daily, hence the one day sell by date. I appreciate the fact that they sell fresh food (not like the crap at Trader Joe's that sits there for several days).

                                    Being a working mom and full-time college student, I found this store to be very accomodating and appealing to us customers that don't have the time to walk 15 aisles in your typical grocery store. And not to mention the service, I also shop(ped) at the Super A and the Vons in Eagle Rock and their service is crappy. There's always new faces checking me out and they don't know what to do or even take the time to say hello when it's my turn to check out. At least at F & E, for now, the employees seem to be genuinely happy employees and well-trained employees.

                                    1. s
                                      sarahjane Nov 8, 2007 08:39 PM

                                      i went at 10. dumb. dumb. dumb. waited (with toddler in tow) to walk inside for 20 minutes, while collecting flyers about unfair labor practices. always a winning sign.
                                      once inside, i experienced super lame cart gridlock ( i know... opening day but still...)
                                      i gotta say, nothing looked all that fresh. for a supposedly eco-friendly store (that's how they've been touting it) there was an awful lot of packaging. everything came in plastic.
                                      i emptied my cart when i realized the check out line stretched all the way down a food aisle. i went straight to trader joes.

                                      1. j
                                        JohnS43 Nov 8, 2007 09:21 PM

                                        I stopped by the Arcadia location (former Vons on Foothill just east of Santa Anita) tonight around 6:30, and my impressions are similar to yours. However, there is ample parking there (it's in a shopping center with a RiteAid and several smaller stores), and although the parking lot looked crowded, the store itself was not any worse than my local Trader Joe's (Monrovia) is on your typical weekend afternoon. There were a lot of gaps in the refrigerated shelves, so I think they may have sold out of some of the products, but it generally seemed well-stocked to me. Prices on some items are cheaper than TJ's (butter is $2.08/lb., bananas are $.18/each). Lots and LOTS of store brands. I guess they're planning to be here for the long haul. One thing I didn't like-- they don't take American Express cards-- which was also a problem at TJ's until recently. I would say that I probably would choose to shop at TJ's over Fresh & Easy; however they do have a lot of "basic" supermarket items that TJ's doesn't carry, so I think this might fill a niche. It's certainly many steps above a 7-11!

                                        1. Das Ubergeek Nov 9, 2007 05:10 AM

                                          I'll check out the Anaheim location after the hubbub dies down... I'm secretly hoping it improves, but again, probably wishful thinking since "Tesco" in the UK is about like saying "Walmart" here. It's just a grocery store, and one that specialises in takeaways.

                                          It can't possibly be worse for my blood pressure than the Tustin Whole Paycheque.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                            Curt the Soi Hound Nov 9, 2007 05:44 AM

                                            In Thailand, there are Tescos that make Walmart look like a 7/11!
                                            One is 2 stories, with 3 sit down restaurants, and a bunch of fast foods, including a KFC, McDonalds, Dairy Queen, Mister Donut and Mr Pizza.
                                            I think the smaller stores in the States is Tesco's proverbial "camel's nose".

                                            In Thailand, where British products are fairly common, Tesco still only handles a few British snacks, nothing that can't be found anywhere else.

                                          2. katkoupai Nov 9, 2007 06:24 AM

                                            There's an article in the Times about this today:

                                            http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi...

                                            1. Chowpatty Nov 9, 2007 09:26 AM

                                              Ok, my 2 cents -- I agree with Layne that the packaging is unappealing and the interior isn't particularly pleasant. The prepared meals didn't look very appealing either, even first thing in the morning when they were fresh, but then since I don't usually buy them, I don't have much point of comparison. However, I did think the prices were quite fair and if l lived closer, I might stop in from time to time for a few items, once I figured out what was cheaper than Trader Joe's. Otherwise, there would be no reason to go to both. It's an interesting concept but it seems to mainly target young professionals who don't have time to cook and people nearby who just need a few items. Families with kids who actually cook wouldn't really be able to find everything they need here.
                                              http://eatingla.blogspot.com/2007/11/...

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Chowpatty
                                                m
                                                mlgb Jan 22, 2008 09:58 AM

                                                The reason to go "instead of Trader Joe's" is that YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD DOESN'T HAVE A TRADER JOES. Trader Joe's with rare exception won't locate north of the 405 Freeway (a letter writing campaign was needed to lure them to Bixby Knolls)..and won't locate outside their target upscale demographic.

                                                I think the most interesting thing about this will be how well they do in these "inner city" neighborhoods. Oddly enough, when I went on my first visit last night, about half of the customers WERE families with kids. They have fresh meat (better selection than TJs), staples, bread, produce, dairy... They are NOT just a grab and go place. And I was able to buy the kleenex and cough drops I needed without wandering around a 150,000 sq ft store.

                                                They aren't a big weekly shopping kind of place though, which I think is why they don't seem to be concerned with locating next door to supermarkets. They're "I need something for dinner tonight after I pick these kids up from daycare and I don't have time to cook, it's already 7 pm" or, "I had to work late and I don't feel like cooking" but there were also some shoppers there who were clearly the upscale type going..."oooh they have greek yogurt and angus beef" and doing mental comparisons with the pricing between F&E and the alternatives (which involve driving half way across town).

                                                I was prepared not to like them, mostly because I'm a long time TJ shopper and because they're (gasp) TESCO. But I was pleasantly surprised.

                                                Not going on grand opening day, there weren't any issues with parking, stock levels. etc. And by now I'm quite used to the SCOT terminals. BTW, they had two employees up front helping with bagging. And they were doing samples at 7pm, pizza and the beef salad. Both were pretty good.

                                              2. w
                                                wired2theworld Nov 9, 2007 11:26 AM

                                                Well, since we live only a couple of blocks from this location, we've been anxiously awaiting the opening for a long time now.
                                                We went last night around 7PM and it was still very crowded and a lot of the prepared food was gone. I have to say my feelings are mixed. Yes, I agree there's too much plastic packaging. Also, I had a hard time finding "healthy" prepared foods. I thought some looked tasty, but the caloric and fat content made me put it back on the shelf.
                                                Still, I ended up buying 2 pcs of salmon and cooking them last night. Perfectly decent, very fresh, and affordable. Same product, and possibly better pricing than TJ's. Primarily, I shop at TJ's and WF, not entering into places like Ralphs or Vons more than every 6 months or so. I don't think F&E will replace TJ's for me, but it's certainly nice to have another option in the neighborhood and better than that horrible Albertsons!
                                                I want to give it another chance after they get settled. It's never fair to judge a place on opening day.

                                                1. Tom P Nov 9, 2007 12:47 PM

                                                  I also live 5 minutes away and was anxiously awaiting it. While it is not the answer to all my desires, I will certainly frequent it, particularly for quick needs - like when I need a vegetable or dairy product for a recipe. It has the weird feel of a very upscale Smart and Final. It is easy to get around and the staff was very friendly and helpful this morning.

                                                  I tried a few of the prepared food - Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, Egg Salad, Fresh Salsa – and while none were mind blowing, I would get each one again. I bought some very fresh and tasty carrots and some beautiful chicken legs with thighs attached. The F&E chips were good, and the jarred chipotle salsa was fine.

                                                  The packaging also freaked me out a little. EVERYTHING is under wrap. Not the best ideas for eco reasons. But I, too, am glad the horrible Albertsons is gone and this is in its place.

                                                  Perhaps the most interesting thing to me was the sound: few of us, I think, give much consideration to how stores use music to effect us and our environment. From musak at certain chains to the boomer music in Whole Foods, music really does affect us and what we buy, in very subtle ways. And yet…and F&E, there was no music, and it gave the store a cold feel, which is not helped by the feeling you might get wrapped up in plastic yourself! Maybe they will start with music later or it is a choice for this particular F&E. It just struck me.

                                                  Anyway, if you leave near it, it is worth a look-see. And is definitely worth going to, if not for all your shopping needs, then for quick trips instead of braving Ralphs, Trader Joe’s, or Whole Foods for a few items.

                                                  1. o
                                                    onebite Nov 10, 2007 11:22 AM

                                                    I went to the Arcadia location yesterday and left feeling underwhelmed. I didn't like all the plastic packaging which, along with the warehouse-style feel of the decor, felt very sterile and unappealing. I'm sorry, but acorn squash does not grow shrink-wrapped in plastic! Blecchhh.

                                                    Trader Joe's is so much more interesting and fun to shop at, and to me the food is much more appealing than F&E. I would more likely go out of my way to shop at TJ than at F&E.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: onebite
                                                      b
                                                      Bert Nov 12, 2007 10:39 AM

                                                      On the other hand, Trader Joe's also sells a lot of its products in plastic, whether shrink wrapped (like their garlic, etc) or in cartons (most of their fruits and veggies).

                                                      The other thing about F&E that reminded me of trader joe's was the prevalence of generic store-branded stuff. Big risk for them, i think. People have come to trust TJ's generic stuff and don't think of them as "cheap store brands." Also, TJ's at least gives different names to their stuff, depending on the type of food (e.g., Trader Giuseppe, Trader Jose, etc). Even the chains have come up with things like "Safeway Select" written in stylized font, etc, to distinguish their products. F&E will have to make a similar breakthrough. Until then, seeing everything labeled with identical F&E logos is a little, well, Orwellian. Makes their packages look like government issue rations. Soylent Green, anyone?

                                                    2. f
                                                      FizzyDP Nov 12, 2007 12:17 PM

                                                      We went to the Glassel Park store on Saturday afternoon. Ready made to cook stuff was picked clean when we arrived at 1PM. Aisles clogged with lookers and getting into the parking lot requires patience due to three way light with no left turn arrow. Heard many disappointed ex-pats in the parking lot bemoaning a wasted trip as there were 3 British items - British Back Bacon, boxed shortbreads and locally made scones, and the rest of the groceries were aimed at lowest common denominator and Mexican Food. What I don't get is why Tesco is afraid to stock British grocery staples as there is a large expat community here and people who actually like the stuff. Come on - why not give us the old faithfuls like PG Tips tea? Also this store uses tons of plastic to package everything in sight that is so called fresh. At least you can see all sides of what you are buying through the plastic, but what an envirnmental waste overall. The gas spent driving across town to go there was a waste too. Like Wal-Mart grocery store - some deals, some things not such as good deal, and the self-checkout was a nightmare. If you spend more than $50 you need to show ID and call over a store manager for approval. Not Easy in the least - not worth more than a two mile drive, and if you are seeking anything British, head to an area specialty store because this store chain is afraid to be true to its heritage and favors local Mexican flavors. Even at the Wal-Marts in Mexico City you can get peanut butter, Campbell's soups, etc.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: FizzyDP
                                                        Chowpatty Nov 12, 2007 12:36 PM

                                                        I don't think it's that they're afraid to stock British products, but they did a lot of market research and I really don't think that's what the Spanish-speaking grandmas who make up a significant portion of that neighborhood are looking for. British food is an extremely niche item and even those of us fond of imported and specialty foods will usually seek out French, Italian and Asian foods before British ones. By the way, the quince paste I picked up didn't seem too good, but I'll have to get some manchego to try it with.

                                                        1. re: Chowpatty
                                                          w
                                                          writergirl Nov 12, 2007 06:42 PM

                                                          I agree with Chowpatty, it's not fear, it's the market economy. The British expat community is beyond miniscule compared to the Latino community. Plus, a few years ago British food was hard to come by, but it's pretty easy to find now, so it doesn't make that much sense for F&E to offer it. Like I mentioned before, Cost Plus has a nice selection, most Indian places offer things, larger branches of chain grocers have British foods as well (I never see clotted cream - except in my dreams!)

                                                          1. re: writergirl
                                                            Das Ubergeek Nov 13, 2007 07:38 AM

                                                            Never see clotted cream? Hie thee to Cost Plus, then! The one at Bella Terra in Huntington Beach had it in a basket next to the jams and whatnot.

                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                              FoodieKat Nov 13, 2007 10:40 AM

                                                              Ooh! Clotted cream! Thought for a minute I'd have to take my sis in law up on her offer of sending it to me by post from England.

                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                w
                                                                writergirl Nov 13, 2007 07:08 PM

                                                                ooh, really?? I never see it at the Farmer's Market Cost Plus. Mmmm! Thanks Das!

                                                              2. re: writergirl
                                                                j
                                                                jenii Feb 3, 2008 07:47 PM

                                                                Gelson's has clotted cream. It's pricey (like $5 a jar, iirc), but very tasty in tea or on scones.

                                                          2. b
                                                            Bustergordon Nov 13, 2007 10:37 AM

                                                            For those looking for British products, I did find one thing that I haven't been able to find anywhere else: English back bacon! I promptly bought a package, but haven't tried it yet.

                                                            The Fresh & Easy reminds me a bit of the Marks & Spencer Simply Food chain in London that I grew dependent on when I lived there. Simply Food was a grab & go pre-packaged food kind of place that also sold some meats & veg. It became a real crutch for me for weeknight meals, like I suspect the Fresh & Easy may. Everything from the packaging to the way the shelves are set up is similar.

                                                            It sounds like I might be the only one who absolutely loves F&E, so I hope it does well enough that I don't lose my back bacon source!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Bustergordon
                                                              FoodieKat Nov 13, 2007 10:47 AM

                                                              Mr. FoodieKat's eyes lit up when I mentioned that F & E sells back bacon, so I wouldn't worry. It'll have at least two more customers very soon, though from the sounds of it I may wait till the Orange location opens, as it's a bit closer to me.

                                                            2. r
                                                              robl Nov 13, 2007 06:53 PM

                                                              I went for a return visit today (11/13) and I noticed that much of the refrigerated foods look picked over. Completely sold out on sandwiches, salads, fresh pizza, pasta, and sauces (only a few) I asked about this, and was told that they still have not fully recovered from the grand opening and that the 11/14 delivery would replenish most of the emptiness.

                                                              In Re to British Items here is what I've noticed (repeating mostly what everyone sees here):

                                                              -Uncured British "style" Back Bacon, 1# package
                                                              -Shortbread (Walker's style) cookies
                                                              -English Breakfast Tea
                                                              -Scones (Fresh bakery section)
                                                              -Shepherd's Pie (Frozen Foods section)

                                                              In Re to Indian Foods that haven't had much mention here:

                                                              -Garlic and Regular FRESH Naan and Roti (Fresh Bakery Section)
                                                              -Shelf stable vegetarian food items (Grocery section - Empty/SOLD OUT)
                                                              -F&E Brand Indian condiments-chutney etc (Grocery section)
                                                              -Indian Entreé items (Frozen Food section)
                                                              -Spice blends (End section of grocery)

                                                              Also not mentioned by anybody are the $6 discount coupons there were giving out during grand opening ($6 off $30 purchase until 11/22 I believe)

                                                              1. a
                                                                avena Nov 19, 2007 02:46 PM

                                                                I went to the new Upland location recently. It was so-so. The staff were very friendly and helpful though...

                                                                I didn't see anything I could recognize as British. I wish they would stock lots of British staples!!! I got some F&E brand black bean and corn salsa, tortilla chips, heat-and-serve wild mushroom risotto, pomegranate lemonade, and cranberry-orange goat milk yogurt. The risotto was thick and tasted funny...I won't get that again. The chips and salsa were pretty good, but it would be difficult to mess those up. I really liked the goat milk yogurt, and I will be returning if only to stock up on the yogurt. Very yummy yogurt.

                                                                1. a
                                                                  ardbroilach Nov 20, 2007 04:36 PM

                                                                  How many times do people have to point out that selling niche British items is commercially unviable? What F&E are doing is very different to your usual US supermarket model. Because they don't have displays of gleaming fruit and veg piled high, they avoid much of the wastage that afflicts other operators. Means lower prices but also the occasional empty shelf. They also restock stores using only one delivery truck and everything gets there in shelf ready packaging. When push comes to shove, I'd take prices and quality over interior decor and muzak any day.

                                                                  In comparison to TJs, find their packaging much cleaner and classier. Their store layouts are more logical and navigable and their prices as good if not better. The quality of items seems far more reliable. Some TJs stuff is really great, other things not so much (or totally out of left field). Have sampled a variey of the F&E ready meals and definitely prefer them.

                                                                  Tesco in the UK is a powerhouse for good reasons. They do their homework, they know their customers and they always expect the competition to be coming at them hard. The F&E chain will grow faster than people think in SoCal, Nevada and Arizona.

                                                                  1. notmartha Nov 30, 2007 11:32 AM

                                                                    Running out of milk, so decided to stop by a Fresh & Easy on the way home instead of the customary Trader Joe's run.

                                                                    I am glad I did, despite the negative-ho-hum reports. The one I went to at La Mirada was pretty empty, and very clean on a Thursday night.

                                                                    I got a ton of stuff, and so far one is a clear winner - roasted bananas gelato. It should have been named Banana Foster gelato instead. Really creamy with a great flavor. The strawberries there were better than ones at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or regular market (doesn't beat Harry's Berries but that's kind of impossible) at this time of year.

                                                                    Greek yogurt and ciabatta are decent, similar to other places. Flowers were a lot fresher than TJ's. I also got some mac & cheese (frozen 'gourmet' type with chablis and swiss, and normal looking one with what looks like cheddar). Haven't tried them yet.

                                                                    Good selection of cheese and cold cuts, as others mentioned. I noticed a package of gravax there for $5, which I got for more like $7 at Whole Foods recently. Have to sample to compare the quality.

                                                                    Prices seems to be similar or a tad cheaper than TJ, except for the Angus steaks ($14/pound?).

                                                                    I guess I must be the exception. The store does look sterile, and everything is wrapped in plastic. But I rather liked the neat look of the produce and meat in the containers. Very tidy. At least I can look very quickly and determine if the product is fresh or not.

                                                                    Noticed stuff that I don't normally see at TJs - cactus paddles, cactus pears (how do you eat a cactus pear - is it same as prickly pear?), tripe, etc.

                                                                    I think it's definitely worth checking into as an alternative to TJ if it's somewhat near. I am looking forward to the opening of one on Whittier Blvd that's even closer to my house.

                                                                    Lastly, I was kind of surprised by the lack of clerks. They are only there to bag the grocery, you have to self-checkout (maybe fun for kids), which would be a problem if the store is busy.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: notmartha
                                                                      trolley Dec 1, 2007 03:17 PM

                                                                      i reccommend the butternut squash soup from the prepared food section. at first i was really underwhelmed at F&E but on the second try i found some keepers. i still think prices are overall a bit higher than tradere joes but there are some winners like AP flour for $1.20. you can't beat that.

                                                                      1. re: notmartha
                                                                        notmartha Dec 12, 2007 02:41 PM

                                                                        Tried more stuff -

                                                                        fresh packaged mac & cheese - OK
                                                                        onion bhaji - very good. But I deep fried them instead of baking
                                                                        samosas - very good. deep fried again
                                                                        pizza dough and pizza sauce - OK. Kind of a bready type dough. Thinking that if I use a pan pizza and grease it first the result may be similar to BJ's Pizzeria.

                                                                        breakfast sausage - weird taste. will not get again
                                                                        soy yogurt - unappealingly runny

                                                                        I think based on my hits I'll try more Indian food.

                                                                        1. re: notmartha
                                                                          notmartha Dec 12, 2007 02:46 PM

                                                                          Forgot - the acai berry protein shake was good. Not too sweet, and I am usually not into the juice/shake stuff.

                                                                          1. re: notmartha
                                                                            b
                                                                            b0ardkn0t Jan 31, 2008 03:27 PM

                                                                            cactus pear--peel the skin off with a sharp knive (wear heavy duty gloves, not to get the splinters on your hands)

                                                                          2. t
                                                                            traderjoegal Dec 10, 2007 12:36 PM

                                                                            Fresh and Easy finally opened in Lakewood on Nov28th. We had been eagerly waiting for this store but it was such a disappointment. We went opening day and picked up 3 prepared foods - butter chicken, mexican food, and macaroni and cheese. I would not buy any of these three again. The butter chicken was okay but not for a repeat; the mexican dish we could not finish, and the macaroni and cheese was just okay. Another product, however, was delicious - the bread pudding. In fact, I went back last night and bought 2 more packages.

                                                                            In no way does it compare to Trader Joe's. I guess I was hoping for a mini TJ's but with different items. Other than that bread pudding, I don't think I'll go there again.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: traderjoegal
                                                                              Joe Blowe Dec 10, 2007 01:54 PM

                                                                              The wife and I went to the Lakewood location yesterday (around 3 pm). Quite depressing, in an institutional sorta way: picked over displays, drab colors, harsh lighting, so-so selection of items (I know, it's not a supermarket), high meat prices (already mentioned), and so on.

                                                                              IMO, the only way Tesco will make this fly is if they concentrate on locales under-served by the Big Chains. That was their mission when they started F&E, and media reports indicate they may already be straying from that mission (going into areas covered by chains, TJs, etc.).

                                                                              (And, for the life of me I cannot figure out why people think/believe F&E was created to bring British goods to the U.S. Trader Joe's is owned by Germans, and I'm not seeing a lot of weisswurst and sauerkraut cluttering the shelves!)

                                                                            2. Will Owen Dec 11, 2007 12:53 PM

                                                                              Mrs. O and I finally got around to stopping in at the Arcadia F&E on Saturday. I'm rather surprised to see negative comments here on the ambience and packaging, as these were two things we both found very appealing. I *LOVE* the nice clear labelling, the color-coding, the BIG TYPE, which means I can actually see which flavor I've got and how much it weighs and costs without having to put on my reading glasses...and we found the spare, clean look very refreshing. I had not intended to buy anything but some Big Kahuna red and white to try (the red's OK, the white much better) but wound up getting a tub of thin-sliced deli ham, a loaf of sliced sourdough bread, and some jalpeño jack cheese, all of which turned out to be more than satisfactory. I like self-checkout, too - glad to see someone besides Ralphs finally using it around here.

                                                                              Verdict - won't make a special trip there, but I'll probably make a point of stopping in when I'm in the neighborhood.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                Will Owen Dec 22, 2007 06:41 PM

                                                                                As a follow-up - I'd picked up my car from our Atwater Village mechanic at just before lunchtime Wednesday, so on my way home I stopped by the Glassell Park F&E. Liked the selection even more than Arcadia's. Bought some rosemary bread - very good - and a few other lunch-type things, plus a really beautiful pork shoulder blade roast (which I'm cooking right now) for a very reasonable price. One thing about the layout that I really like is that all the stores apparently are laid out identically; the one thing I HATE about Trader Joe's is that I have to learn where everything is all over again whenever I go to another TJ. They seem to think this is some kind of plus, letting each manager invent his own layout, but that's a kind of creativity I can do without. At F&E, you walk in and turn left, and it's produce up front, then meat in the next aisle, then wine & booze, then cereals, etcetera, with prepared stuff, dairy, pastries and bread against the wall. Seen one, you've seen'em all. And the free sample of the day is always at the end of the first aisle, and usually worth trying. If I want different, I'll go to 99 Ranch or the Hawaii Supermarket, thanks.

                                                                                1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                  s
                                                                                  Sharuf Dec 23, 2007 01:26 AM

                                                                                  Mr. O -- what is "Big Kahuna red and white"? I never heard of it, and google's no help.

                                                                                  1. re: Sharuf
                                                                                    Will Owen Dec 23, 2007 12:58 PM

                                                                                    F&E's answer to Two Buck Chuck. The red is a cabernet/shiraz blend, a little thick and chewy for my taste but not bad with food; the white is a chardonnay of the light, non-oaky sort, pleasant and refreshing. Both $1.99. There's another chardonnay at the same price there which I have not tried. As for the rest of their offerings, their prices seem to run towards TJ's upper end, though I'll admit I haven't really studied all the shelves very closely.

                                                                                2. e
                                                                                  ErikaK Dec 12, 2007 12:36 PM

                                                                                  One opened in Orange today, coincidentally (or not) across from a recently bad but newly remodeled Ralphs. There were not too many people there at 11am (10am opening) which was good. Picked up some staples that I needed (roma tomatoes & white potatoes) and a few other tidbits. I think prices are similar to Trader Joes for some produce, possibly a bit less (I think I paid 2.49/pk for romas at TJs and these were 1.98 I think). The salad mixes are more expensive so I passed. I did buy some british style bacon and some sausage patties in the meat section, as well as a terrine of truffled chicken liver pate. Those are things I would go back there for
                                                                                  I do like the mix of national and house brands. Self checkout is easy, and I liked the layout and clean fresh look. It is a bit closer to home than TJs so might become part of the routine

                                                                                  1. e
                                                                                    EclecticEater Dec 12, 2007 04:06 PM

                                                                                    Report, brief, on Laguna Hills:
                                                                                    Before venturing into Laguna Hills, beware of the automated cameras that capture your license plate if you so much as speed through or get caught in a intersection along Moulton. The Tesco I went to, twice, was clean, well-sit, and dished up fine swiss cheese, shaved ham that was awfully tasty and uncured ham bavarian style, excellent ravioli, a too sour sourdough loaf, and reasonable prices. I found what I needed, checked out with a self-serv check stand, had my items bagged by a helpful attendant, and found all the parking I needed in the lot near the Dept of Vehicles. The ham alone and the ravioli plus some good mariara sauce would have brought me back, as would have the reasonable prices. So a nice alternative to TJs and Albertsons, not so full of itself as Whole Foods (obviously I don't like them) and I'll be back.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: EclecticEater
                                                                                      e
                                                                                      EclecticEater Dec 14, 2007 04:01 PM

                                                                                      My wife and I had some striped bass (about $11 a pound) with a salad mde from their house blue cheese dressing and rocket mixed lettuces for lunch today. It was simple to threw together, and it all tasted both "fresh" and was "easy" to make. The striped bass was wonderful, farm bred, excellent quality although I had to cut away the pin bones. So, another salute to Tesco for some food that was reasonably priced, tasted excellent and it was just enough. If they can keep this level of quality and pricing up, they're gonna get more of my business.

                                                                                    2. DiveFan Dec 14, 2007 06:24 PM

                                                                                      I'm going to be real interested in how F&E does in Manhattan Beach.
                                                                                      I just discovered that it will occupy the Office Depot location on Rosecrans next to Trader Joes (not shown on F&E web site yet). This is definitely Not an underserved area - besides TJ, they must compete with Ralphs, Bristol Farms, Costco and the new shopping center with Whole Foods west of the I-405. FFL and Vons are just east of the I-405 with the latter definitely targeting the upscale MB demographic.

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: DiveFan
                                                                                        notmartha Dec 14, 2007 07:14 PM

                                                                                        That will be interesting - I was just there today to pick something up at REI at the other end of the center. I think it has the most overlap with TJ's and not the rest. Ralphs is not that yuppiesh, Costco is for bulk food, Whole Food's too big for a quick dash (not easy, that's for sure), and Bristol Farm's a bit higher in price.

                                                                                        Anyway, I think F&E's target is probably someone who has a higher standards in food, willing to pay a little bit more for convenience (not a whole lot more), and who wants to dash in and out quickly. Nothing is really organized for massive purchase ala Costco's. The check out is too inefficient.

                                                                                        It's definitely a supplement for me, not replacement.

                                                                                        I also liked that they have designated parking spots for hybrid cars and those with young children.

                                                                                        P.S. The fresh (refridgerated, not the regular) caesar dressing is outstanding. Bright, lemony and lots of anchovy flavor.

                                                                                        1. re: DiveFan
                                                                                          Joe Blowe Dec 14, 2007 07:29 PM

                                                                                          This is exactly what I was preaching just five messages upthread! Tesco is not remaining true to their initial mission, and I predict right here on Chowhound that it's days are numbered. Not weeks or months, but give it time... they'll soon start by closing up selected locations.

                                                                                          FWIW, I split my TJ visits between that location, the other MB location and Old Towne location (and pretty much every other store you mentioned). After my visit to the Lakewood F&E, I don't think I'll be working them into my rotation.

                                                                                          1. re: Joe Blowe
                                                                                            m
                                                                                            mlgb Jan 21, 2008 07:45 PM

                                                                                            First visit to the Lakewood location and I think I WILL be working them into my regular rotation. I could see myself rotating between TJs and Fresh & Easy. Each has some things I liked.

                                                                                            I think they're being smart by locating on the edge of Trader Joe's territory, between the upscale neighborhoods and the underserved. If you live in the nether regions of Lakewood, it's closer than the Los Altos TJs. And much, much less crowded.

                                                                                            Every day prices seem cheaper than TJs, and far far cheaper than Bristol Farms or Whole Paycheck. I'd say there were MAYBE 15 customers in the store tonight... Took me maybe 2 minutes to check out (at 7pm).

                                                                                            The graphics are a bit odd (not very California-ish) but as someone else mentioned, easy to figure out. And I love the wide aisles.

                                                                                            I won't be using them for produce because of the packaging, but then I don't buy produce at TJ's either. Their meat selection seemed better than TJs.

                                                                                            Favorite thing I found: the fresh pack dill pickles $1.08..supplier is from Canada. Noticed they had 0% fat greek style yogurt, but their 32 oz yogurt only comes in low-fat version. Also the Pom-Blueberry sorbet $1.98.. and the whole wheat pita bread (Good Life) $0 .98.. yummy crisped in the toaster oven.

                                                                                            1. re: mlgb
                                                                                              j
                                                                                              justagthing Jan 21, 2008 08:18 PM

                                                                                              Looking forward to the location on Spring to open up.

                                                                                              1. re: justagthing
                                                                                                m
                                                                                                mlgb Jan 25, 2008 06:12 PM

                                                                                                The sample guy said he heard March for that one. The store at Del Amo and Paramount (LB/Lakewood border) opened last week. I went at 5pm today. While it was busy it wasn't crazy or cleaned out. The very diverse customer base seemed to be all smiles and one old guy for no particular reason asked me, "How do you like it?"

                                                                                                An amusing eg of tailoring their product for the neighborhood...they had some fresh little pig trotters in the meat case. Don't think I've seen those at Trader Joes.

                                                                                                Things I found that I liked..16oz frozen blueberres ($3); canned beans with no salt, tofu selection, ex-large Mexican farmed shrimp 12-oz pack. The selections of chips and ice creams is pretty impressive but I was strong today.

                                                                                        2. OCEllen Dec 14, 2007 07:01 PM

                                                                                          Went to the Orange store at the corner of Chapman and Main yesterday - even with the coupon I received in the mail I couldn't find much I wanted to buy (prefer TJ's) - Maybe that might change as time passes due to proximity. However sterile and depressing the store is it does have a certain quick ease to it.
                                                                                          Way too much plastic though!! Hate the self-checkout - people need jobs!

                                                                                          1. notmartha Dec 20, 2007 01:59 PM

                                                                                            Went again last night and they have $6 off coupon for $30 grocery purchases (exclude milk and alcohol) at the La Mirada store.

                                                                                            Had to go back as my hubbie kept reminding me to get more of the British brand bacon. I guess it's enough of a hint that he loved it. The gourmet mac & cheese in freezer section was really good, much better than the fresh one. Kind of reminds me of fondue cheese. The chocolate gelato I got this time was insane - at $3 a pint (which is the same price for a small cup at gelato places) it's a bargain.

                                                                                            Anyway, I think it's fast topping my local TJ's at Whittier for convenience, hassle free factor with some real yummy keepers that I have to keep going back for.

                                                                                            So I hope the prediction that they will close stores will not happen, although it is kind of strange why they would sell mexican pastries for 2x the price in a neighborhood where you can get good pastries in a local panaderia.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: notmartha
                                                                                              b
                                                                                              b0ardkn0t Dec 20, 2007 02:06 PM

                                                                                              Because they try to cater to a local market, like other international chains, and end up falling flat on their faces.
                                                                                              IKEA is trying the same thing.
                                                                                              It all depends, on what they aim for.

                                                                                            2. fiercekitten Dec 20, 2007 03:51 PM

                                                                                              I lived in London for years and there are TESCOs all over the place. It's just a grocery store. They have ready made meals which are decent but basically it's nothing to get too excited about.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: fiercekitten
                                                                                                Katie80 Dec 20, 2007 05:11 PM

                                                                                                I was pretty excited about their $4.99 designer coffee (good) and $1.99 wine (good enough). Everything else has been hit or miss. It's a great place to stop off on your way home, but probably not a special trip kind of store. Unless you're terminally bored of Ralph's and even Trader Joes...which, now that I think of it, I am.

                                                                                                I go to the Eagle Rock store in the evenings, and on my first few visits they had almost nothing on the shelves. Lately, it's been much better stocked.

                                                                                              2. c
                                                                                                CaliforniaCat Dec 20, 2007 08:02 PM

                                                                                                Today I wandered through the mostly empty Buena Park store. I agree that the abundance of plastic on everything discouraged me from buying much. Also, the produce was mostly out-of-season (and I can't get excited about eating nectarines and strawberries in December). But the employees were all extremely friendly, which just made me a little sad that they don't employ a few more people to do the check-out. I would go there again if I only needed an item or two, but I wouldn't go out of my way to go there.

                                                                                                1. e
                                                                                                  EclecticEater Dec 25, 2007 12:27 PM

                                                                                                  Yesterday my wife and I went to the Laguna Hills store and bought, yes, in plastic a couple of filet mignons and Pedigree dog food for our dog (so the convenience was nice because it would have meant a separate trip to Albertsons, which would have been a drag since we don't like to buy much food there), and then loaded up on cheeses, prepared fresh ravioli, a small pizza, frozen, and a number of other items including a sprouted loaf of bread and V8-type juice at a reasonable price. In all, we spent about $90. When they checked us out, and it went fast with no standing in line because of the way they configure their self-service checkouts and use live people to bag, they also gave my wife a $6.99 bouquet of tulips, it being the day before Christmas. Not bad for what one person, mistakenedly, called "an upscale 7-11". The filets were tender, tasty and hit the spot that night; good meat. Yes, if this keeps up they'll make it and find their niche. The Pedigree dog food, remember, kept us out of Albertsons; the meat was better than Wild Oats or Henrys and equivalent to Bristol Farms and would have been more expensive there; Costco would also have been equivalent but we would have had to buy five times as much. The tulips were a crowning touch. So far, a very smart groups delivering good food for reasonable bucks.

                                                                                                  1. bernardo Jan 21, 2008 08:44 PM

                                                                                                    I find the varied reactions to the F&E "invasion" rather entertaining. I've been to the Fountain Valley outlet twice and find they add value in a certain niche, a smaller more selective choice of NTL mainline foods for the most part, some fresh some already prepared, but only a few adventurous selections. Some good buys in seafood that IMHO are better tasting than TJ's & competitive to them pricewise. They can't compete with TJ's for cheese or nuts, but they do OK with other fresh foods. Kinda intermediate in range of selection, quality & price to the supers on one hand and Bristol, Gelson & Whole Foods on the other.

                                                                                                    Personally, I enjoy shopping in Jon's and Wholesome Choice for their incredible selection of quality produce at often dirt cheap prices, and vast array of Med & MidEast groceries. Both are an adventure in shopping, F&E is pragmatic, get the job done, slam bam thank you mam. No way a WsCh for amazing takeaway or eat inside or on the patio, great soups (chicken barley, lentil), OK Indian & Chinese, impressive Persian from shanks to hummus & all sorts of sides & desserts. And incredible quality meats & fish at much better prices than B, G & WF. And not to mention fresh breads hot out of the oven including a Sangak to die for. Don't laugh, I'm not kidding.

                                                                                                    But ah, take me back to earth, in the everyday world near home, where F&E serves a (limited) purpose as does TJ's and Grocery Outlet (chock full of nice cheeses for a song & cleverly relabelled wines from Blackstone and others at less than half the price, about which their clientele is clueless, fortunately for the rest of us). But I digress. Will F&E survive the fray and still be there going forward as one more pitcher in my bullpen? I wonder, I really really have to wonder.

                                                                                                    15 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: bernardo
                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                      mlgb Jan 21, 2008 09:01 PM

                                                                                                      Wholesome Choice sounds wonderful. But, only in Irvine?

                                                                                                      I'm in love with my local Superior Super Warehouse for produce and tortilla chips, but not much else.

                                                                                                      1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                        justagthing Jan 21, 2008 09:24 PM

                                                                                                        oh mlgb, it is so worth the drive. have lunch and buy some groceries. Say if you are heading to Fashion Island or S. Coast Plaza anyways, take a detour on your way home.

                                                                                                        1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                          Das Ubergeek Jan 22, 2008 07:24 AM

                                                                                                          Yes, only in Irvine, and so worth the drive -- but be aware that the service at the Persian hot-foot counter can be surly.

                                                                                                          My reaction to F&E -- which I visited in Orange for the first time yesterday -- was that it's a nice enough place, but I won't be going out of my way, and it's in no wise a replacement for TJ's.

                                                                                                          Also, this is a stupid thing, but the layout needed help: I went in, saw the cash registers and the metal railings, and assumed I had gone in the exit. I went out and realised it was the only door, but someone else might get in their car and drive across Chapman to Ralphs. Also, I didn't know if there were handbaskets, because there were carts right inside the front door, but the baskets were round a corner 150 feet to the right.

                                                                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                            Will Owen Jan 22, 2008 09:23 AM

                                                                                                            The layout may take a little getting used to, but once you've done it you can navigate ANY Fresh & Easy...because they're ALL THE SAME. What a concept! As much as I love TJ's, I truly deplore the fact that every single store has its own very different layout, even extending to what items fall into which categories.

                                                                                                            I have bought F&E produce and liked it, but too many of the items come in unhandy amounts for my purposes. I do not foresee ever needing two big bunches of celery at a time, unless I want to make Celery Soup For A Crowd...

                                                                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                              e
                                                                                                              ErikaK Jan 22, 2008 01:18 PM

                                                                                                              I agree with you on that entrance. I shop at that Orange location every now and then because I shop at the Ralph's across the street. I must say that the F&E brand Malt Vinegar flavor kettle chips are addictive. The cheese/salami/olive selection is decent. The oil cured olives are very good. The fresh Italian sausages are meh (we tried the mild version, they did not have much flavor). It is closer than TJ's so again just a "few items" place. It is nice to be able to buy name brands though, so I don't have to stop at more than one store.

                                                                                                              1. re: ErikaK
                                                                                                                Das Ubergeek Jan 25, 2008 06:25 PM

                                                                                                                Ah, see, TJ's (Tustin/Meats) and F&E (Chapman/Main) are about the same time to drive for me, so it's a tossup -- and there's a TJ's near the UCI farmers' market. :)

                                                                                                                We bought some apricot applesauce for the baby (no sugar, yay!) and some apricot goat's milk yoghurt for same.

                                                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                                  bernardo Jan 26, 2008 12:07 PM

                                                                                                                  But how compelling will they be to a broader audience once the (in effect) 25% off coupons evaporate some months down the line? Most stores other than TJs beckon with announced and unannounced specails, whether $1 blues at WhChoice the other day, 3lbs/$1 Satsumas at Jon's for a while & the like. Once the coupons are gone, F&E may have to offer superspecials to compete effectively.

                                                                                                                  1. re: bernardo
                                                                                                                    notmartha Jan 28, 2008 08:02 PM

                                                                                                                    The coupons were to lure the people to try to experiment the new offerings. For the truly price conscious - they will probably shop at their usual Super-Kmart or Walmart.

                                                                                                                    1. re: notmartha
                                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                                      mlgb Feb 2, 2008 08:02 PM

                                                                                                                      The truly price conscious (me) are now hitting up F&E at about 4pm on Fridays and Saturdays for their 75% markdowns. Eg, blueberries for 77 cents/6oz, mushrooms (perfect btw) 37 cents/8 oz, scone 4-pack, 83 cents (tossed those in the freezer), 3 big pork loin chops $2.24, 6-pack of chicken/apple sausages $1.50, etc.

                                                                                                                      I'm changing my mind about the produce. The quality is decent for the most part and the quantity per package really isn't that out of line on most items. I don't particularly like the packaging but I guess I'd put it in a bag anyways.

                                                                                                                      Like I told the friendly checkout guy, this is my new favorite store.

                                                                                                                      All of the fresh meat so far has been very good. The little lamb loin chops were great.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                        Das Ubergeek Feb 3, 2008 04:08 PM

                                                                                                                        I have to say, their produce blows TJ's (and any of the big market chains) away... those pears are astoundingly good, better even than the ones on offer yesterday at the Irvine FM.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                                          b
                                                                                                                          bluemonster Feb 6, 2008 09:14 AM

                                                                                                                          Lured by the promise of those pears, I finally gave F&E another shot after a disappointing first visit... and the pears were marked down to 4 for $1. The pears were delicious, and they weren't overripe (even though I bought them on the sell-by date).

                                                                                                                          I was most impressed by the meat selections--I got sole, turkey legs, pork chops and bacon, all for less than at Trader Joes. The quality of the sole was excellent, and the freshness of the meast in general seems better than at TJs (I no longer buy fresh fish or lamb there because of past problems).

                                                                                                                          My one disappointment with F&E is that it's harder to find gluten-free products such as bread or frozen foods than at TJs.

                                                                                                                          1. re: bluemonster
                                                                                                                            m
                                                                                                                            mlgb Feb 6, 2008 10:29 AM

                                                                                                                            The skirt steak and farmed striped bass were both excellent.
                                                                                                                            I've also had issues with fresh meat and produce at TJs, but still prefer it for reduced fat cheese and yogurt selections.

                                                                                                                            I'm not having any problems holding fresh whole produce (not the chopped up stuff) for 4 days or more beyond the stamped date. I think those dates are really confusing to buyers not used to having any dates on their produce. At 4 days it's still looking better than most of the stuff that's sold at the major supermarkets and certainly the half rotten produce at 99 Cent Store.

                                                                                                                        2. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                          notmartha Feb 3, 2008 07:29 PM

                                                                                                                          I noticed the markdown today - never seen them before even though this is probably my 6-8th visit.

                                                                                                                          The non-marked down bread's sell by date is only 2 days more, so the marked down ones are a better deal.

                                                                                                                          It's kind of strange, because even though the bread doesn't have preservatives, they seem to last longer than the TJ bread. Usually the bread from TJs got moldy after the 3rd day on the counter, but the F&E is still OK.

                                                                                                                          1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                            hpcat Feb 13, 2008 08:52 AM

                                                                                                                            I was at the Glassell Park store last Saturday and all the prepared sushi was marked down to $1.00. There was also reduced cut up fruit, which looked a bit old.

                                                                                                                            1. re: hpcat
                                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                                              mlgb Feb 13, 2008 09:35 AM

                                                                                                                              I've been shopping the markdowns for a few weeks. The items that don't seem to be worth buying when they're "old" are the lettuce mixes, chopped up veg, and the tomato-based salsas. The fresh meats, produce items that haven't been prepped, and bakery items are fine. Apply my experience to the package dating..use pre-prepped items within a few days. I'd also eat the sushi and the poke the same day. I've stirfried the poke with everything else in the package and it's very tasty done that way. The meat and fish quality continues to be very high. Tried the large sea scallops which seem to be the "no water added" type. Didn't have any problem pan searing them.

                                                                                                            2. notmartha Jan 22, 2008 12:32 PM

                                                                                                              The La Habra store on Whittier near Beach looks about ready to open soon.

                                                                                                              I've given up going to TJ's on the most part nowadays. I found the produce and seafood at F&E to be a lot fresher, and there's still no crowds at either the parking lot or checking lanes.

                                                                                                              They were giving out coupon books for $5 off $20 groceries a few weeks ago.

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: notmartha
                                                                                                                r
                                                                                                                risottoman Jan 23, 2008 02:17 PM

                                                                                                                I love the fresh & easy in Glassell Park/Eagle Rock. Very convenient and most of the products are excellent. The green pears were some of the best I've ever had (i've had pears at Chez Panisse that were equal to these). The only clunkers I've had are the frozen chicken potstickers (get them at an Asian market - much better) and the sprouted whole grain bread. That bread was so dry and nasty. But the potato bread was excellent. F&E is my new default grocery store.

                                                                                                                1. re: notmartha
                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                  carter Jan 31, 2008 08:28 AM

                                                                                                                  The La Habra store just received its liquor license so it should open any day now. Is that location a former CVS or Albertson's, btw?!

                                                                                                                  1. re: carter
                                                                                                                    notmartha Jan 31, 2008 12:06 PM

                                                                                                                    It was a drug store, not sure if CVS or RiteAid. Feb 13 if the banner outside the store doesn't lie!

                                                                                                                    Actually the larger Albertson store is located kitty corner from this new F&E.

                                                                                                                2. katydid13 Jan 24, 2008 09:26 PM

                                                                                                                  I just took a peek at the new Fresh & Easy on Hollywood Boulevard (between Sycamore & Orange), and overall, I was impressed with it. A number of items were priced along the lines of Trader Joe's, and many were significantly cheaper than Ralph's. A pretty wide array of organic food at very reasonable prices. And it's in a neighborhood that's an absolute dead zone in terms of grocery stores, right down the street from my office, so I'm sure to be a repeat customer. I'm not crazy about the self-serve thing, but it went smoothly. I think the place only opened a day or two ago, and it was DEAD. You get 1 hour of free parking in the garage w/Fresh & Easy validation.

                                                                                                                  1. m
                                                                                                                    marti Jan 26, 2008 09:57 AM

                                                                                                                    I'm burned out, after shopping them for 3 weeks. The idea of "fresh"is great but limiting, since the dates are so close to day of shopping that one can only buy for a couple of days at a time! Having to shop more frequently, due to dates so close, means spending more and too much effort. I will continue to stop in from time to time, but only when near.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: marti
                                                                                                                      notmartha Jan 28, 2008 01:56 PM

                                                                                                                      I think the freshness dates are guidelines. The fresh casear dressing was still good about 2 weeks past the freshness date. I've also freeze some of the ready made food and reheat w/o problems. The things that won't last are some of the cold cuts.

                                                                                                                      My fridge is set to a pretty cold temp though.

                                                                                                                    2. FoodieKat Jan 27, 2008 04:15 PM

                                                                                                                      I visited the Fresh and Easy location on Moulton & Ridge in Laguna Hills yesterday, and although I liked the design and layout of the store, and was glad to see how much cheaper most of their bread was compared to other grocery stores it was nothing special. It seemed like a good place to go when you're in a hurry and don't have lot of time to cook, or if you're looking for a change from other places but that's about it. I also noticed that the shelves had quite a few empty spaces. It almost had a feel that the store wasn't quite finished yet.

                                                                                                                      So, it was ok, not bad, but would probably only make a point of going when Mr. Kat & I had a craving for British back bacon or smoked applewood cheddar (was very glad to find this as it's not the easiest variety of English cheese to find at other stores). I didn't expect their stores to be replicas of Tesco in the US, but since my nearby Albertsons decided to discontinue their entire British section it would be nice to have another alternative to the higher-priced, 'niche' type of places that happen to carry British products. I happen to know quite a few people who would most likely shop at F & E if it carried more products from its parent company.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: FoodieKat
                                                                                                                        e
                                                                                                                        EclecticEater Jan 28, 2008 10:16 AM

                                                                                                                        Try the ravioli in the refrigerated case in the back of the first aisle. Try the bass in the meat and fish case in the second aisle. Try the uncured black forest ham. Try the frozen pizza in the frozen foods case in the last aisle. Try their English muffins in the bread section, thicker than Thomas' and better, I believe. Try their pork chops and their steaks. All of these seem lower priced and better than most offerings in other stores. I don't care for their sprouted wheat bread, but neither do I care for TJ's similar offering, nor do I care for their soy milk. But the checkout is phenomenally fast, with the F&E people doing the bagging while I scanned the stuff I bought, faster than any other store around. So obviously I like the Moulton and Ridge Route store. The bass, in and of itself, is the freshest fish I've seen around in any store; I'd put it up against Whole (Paycheck) Foods any time.

                                                                                                                        1. re: FoodieKat
                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                          creamydeluxe Mar 8, 2008 08:19 AM

                                                                                                                          I've was a pastry chef and a baker for 13 years, even baked at an all whole-grain, naturally sweetened bakery for 2 years, and I've never had whole wheat bread as soft and moist as F&E's. It stays amazingly fresh for two weeks in the fridge. The naan is unbeliveable also. I really can't believe the quality of the bread, they must toss so much due to the freshness of everything. The meats are the best, the cheeses are great, the juices are all fresh-squeezed (NO ONE has mentioned that yet!) Where can you get non-cooked citrus juice like that? No where!

                                                                                                                          1. re: creamydeluxe
                                                                                                                            notmartha Mar 12, 2008 09:27 PM

                                                                                                                            I had great luck with their bread also. Now their potato bread is a staple, and so is the garlic loaf. Thanks for the tip about the naan - will have to try that next.

                                                                                                                            Still don't know how the bread can stay that fresh w/o preservatives.

                                                                                                                        2. e
                                                                                                                          ExtraCheesePlease Jan 27, 2008 05:02 PM

                                                                                                                          Tried out the Hollywood location on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It was dead but the employees were exceptionally friendly and helpful. They had a great cheese section and the prices were fair to very good. It's really not TJs but I don't think it's trying to be. Bought some of the "plasticized" meats and cheeses and already made pizza dough so that what's for dinner. I'll definitely go back again because it's a great alternative to Ralph's, TJs and Whole Foods.

                                                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: ExtraCheesePlease
                                                                                                                            katydid13 Jan 28, 2008 07:25 AM

                                                                                                                            I just used the pizza dough, too, and was please to discover it's not as salty as other storebought varietys, including TJs.

                                                                                                                            1. re: katydid13
                                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                                              mlgb Jan 28, 2008 08:13 PM

                                                                                                                              I tried the 99 cent lump of whole wheat pizza dough tonight, and the 99 cent pizza sauce. Both were very good. Actually I think I can get 4 individual-sized personal pizzas out of that dough.

                                                                                                                              The jalapeno cheddar kettle chips were insane!

                                                                                                                              I stocked up on some of the staples that I've tried so far and liked.. the canned no-salt beans, frozen blueberries and strawberries, kosher garlic dills, EVOO Pam-type spray.

                                                                                                                              Bummed out that the deli meat section was almost entirely cleaned out at 5pm. Hope that it was a one-of and not a supply chain problem ala Trader Joes.

                                                                                                                              There were a few more cars than before in the lot... I counted about 20. Store still doesn't seem very busy, but then it's only been open a week or two.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                                Das Ubergeek Jan 29, 2008 06:14 AM

                                                                                                                                I have to say, they have really excellent fruit. Not as good as a farmers' market but if you happen to need to shop when farmers' markets are not open, this isn't bad... fantastic raspberries and really awesome pears.

                                                                                                                            2. re: ExtraCheesePlease
                                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                                              mlgb Jan 28, 2008 11:46 AM

                                                                                                                              There's a funny report of the Hollywood opening with photos on CurbedLA. They mentioned that there is no liquor license for this store.

                                                                                                                              http://la.curbed.com/archives/2008/01/hollywood_fresh.php

                                                                                                                              According to the freshandeasy.com website, there is another batch of openings in February, including the Compton store on Feb 7. Looks like the La Habra store and the Long Beach Spring Street store are also in the next wave. The locator map is now up to date. Whole Foods lovin' Westsiders need not get their knickers in a twist, you won't be getting a store anytime soon.

                                                                                                                              http://freshandeasy.com/whereweareMap...

                                                                                                                              1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                                Joe Blowe Jan 28, 2008 12:26 PM

                                                                                                                                Look above: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/458750#3209557

                                                                                                                                Fresh and Easy coming soon to Manhattan Beach. Passed by the store last weekend and it looks like it'll be ready within a month or two. Gotta believe that there will be more locations west of the 405...

                                                                                                                                http://la.curbed.com/archives/2007/06...

                                                                                                                                1. re: Joe Blowe
                                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                                  mlgb Jan 28, 2008 01:59 PM

                                                                                                                                  Yes it will be interesting.

                                                                                                                                  Of course that location is just barely (1/2 mile maybe?) west of the 405. At least half of the market area includes blue collar residential neighborhoods ...Hawthorne, Lawndale, etc.

                                                                                                                                  Not exactly Santa Monica.

                                                                                                                                2. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                                  notmartha Jan 28, 2008 07:59 PM

                                                                                                                                  The banner outside La Habra store said opening Feb 13. I think I'll avoid the store for the first few weeks.

                                                                                                                                  Picked up the ahi tuna poke and wild caught dover sole at the La Mirada store today. The poke was good after I adjusted the seasoning (only use half a packet of the soy mixture) with a dash of sweetener, and the dover sole was really fresh, sweet and had a great texture.

                                                                                                                                  Got the key limes too and mixed with mascaprone cheese, whipping cream and splenda for a low carb dessert.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                                    Midlife Feb 2, 2008 07:17 PM

                                                                                                                                    Actually it appears that they do have a Type 21 General wine, beer and spirits license:
                                                                                                                                    http://www.abc.ca.gov/datport/LQSData...
                                                                                                                                    Effective January 16.

                                                                                                                                    No idea why they wouldn't be using it.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Midlife
                                                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                                                      mlgb Feb 2, 2008 08:06 PM

                                                                                                                                      I wonder if it's a lease issue with the landlord and they've applied just in case they can work it out.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Midlife
                                                                                                                                        d
                                                                                                                                        designjb Feb 6, 2008 10:38 AM

                                                                                                                                        I asked a store employee why they are not selling liquor like the other F&E stores and he said it has something to do with Long's dominance of the liquor license in the complex. I don't know if there's any truth to that. And I don't know if that would be with the state, or the landlord. But the employee assured me that they were working on it and hoped to sell liquor in the future.

                                                                                                                                        Word of advice, avoid their $2 CA Chardonnay. I had a headache for over a full day after drinking that stuff. Stay away.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: designjb
                                                                                                                                          Midlife Feb 6, 2008 01:18 PM

                                                                                                                                          That ABC link is to an active license. The state has granted the license, so it could be that the city of LA is holding up their use permit. Typically both the state and the local authorites have to approve alcohol uses, though I've always thought the state wouldn't issue a license until the local approval had been given. There are millions of stories in the big city....... or is that New York?

                                                                                                                                  2. bernardo Jan 27, 2008 07:02 PM

                                                                                                                                    Ventured sideways today with F&E's Redwood Creek 2006 Pinot Noir. Y'know, just a Froggy Vin Ordinaire but surprise, a great claret hue and pleasant if unremarkable flowery nose, smooth and tasty with cherry and berry overtones (but perhaps a bit too fruity for PN snobs?). Pairs nicely with sharp cheeses and charcoal broiled steak. I'm no Miles, but IMHO exceeds expectations at $5 a pop.

                                                                                                                                    1. choctastic Jan 28, 2008 02:36 PM

                                                                                                                                      Went to the one on Lincoln (in I think Buena Park).

                                                                                                                                      The Fresh & Easy brand items seem really cheap. I bought some of the F&E candy bars, and they were actually pretty good. The roasted banana gelato is a callin me for my next visit. A jar of marinara sauce was 99 cents.

                                                                                                                                      Some of the baked goods seem expensive. I like how they mark down the older stuff. Almost was tempted by the $1 marked down hummus (from $2).

                                                                                                                                      I really like this store. I can see myself shopping at both here and Trader Joes.

                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: choctastic
                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                        Just Cid Jan 29, 2008 08:55 AM

                                                                                                                                        I usually go to the one in Buena Park, and I think the thing I really like the most about these stores is their selection of smaller quantity items.

                                                                                                                                        This is a really nice idea for the single person/small family who doesn't need to buy Costco Quantities all the time.

                                                                                                                                        I also like their meats. Nice quality.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: choctastic
                                                                                                                                          m
                                                                                                                                          mlgb Feb 2, 2008 04:56 PM

                                                                                                                                          I hadn't noticed the markdowns til you mentioned it. Twice I've gone around 4pm and there are 50 to 75% markdowns on fresh meats, produce, desserts, and bakery items. It's stuff that is on the last date of sale. Most of it is still fine, better than what I usually see at my local Pavillions, but I noticed that the pre-sliced veggies (like the stirfry mix) are best avoided. As an example, there were 6oz boxes of fresh blueberries (and I didn't see any fuzzy ones) that were 77 cents.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                                            bernardo Feb 2, 2008 06:51 PM

                                                                                                                                            Ralph's marks down bagged & boxed produce and prepared food on a regular basis, but the timing differs & extent varies widely by store and week to week -- obviously making it too predictable is not in their best interest. They also markdown meats, fish & dairy but that's a bit dicier of course. Markdowns seem to happen early in the AM, so as opposed to F&E, pickings are on the slim side late in the day.

                                                                                                                                            Vons, Albertson's, Staters & TJ's don't seem to markdown similar to Ralph's so wonder what happens to stuff about to go bad or nearing expiration -- maybe destroy or thinking positively, donate to food banks?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: bernardo
                                                                                                                                              Das Ubergeek Feb 2, 2008 07:37 PM

                                                                                                                                              Well, in most stores they just seem to leave the expired ones out. I can't tell you the number of times I went to Jons (before it became Vallarta) and had to threaten to spill all the week-past-it-sell-by-date milk on the ground before they'd get rid of it.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: bernardo
                                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                                mlgb Feb 2, 2008 08:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                Yeah, I wonder if they're going to keep this up once they get more experience with stock levels. I heard from a friend in the UK that it was traditional for her local Waitrose to mark things down on Friday and Sunday evenings. Maybe it's a British practice.
                                                                                                                                                I guess with the date stamped on everything and their unusual delivery/storage system it makes sense to mark it down on the shelves. I'm taking advantage while it lasts. I just wish I had my new cooktop installed instead of a hole in my kitchen counter.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                                                  bernardo Feb 3, 2008 07:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                  The interesting thing to me is that if you're flexible & select produce seasonally like Europeans, food just doesn't have to eat up (pun) a significant part of your budget. Between local farmer's markets, Jon's or Wholesome Choice, 99 cents only, Grocery Outlet, sale items at supers and drugstores, coupons, and markdowns at F&E & Ralph's the possibilities are nearly endless.

                                                                                                                                                  But for those who'd rather splurge, how'bout a filet mignon ($10/lb on sale at F&E thru today) dinner with fixins (mushies, taters, mixed greens & dessert) & wine for well under $20? F&E bill around $15 after the $5 off coupon. Pair with a $2.50 Covey Run Cab-Merlot or $3 Seventh Moon Cab (Blackstone rebrand) from Grocery Outlet and you're livin' the good life for a song. Slightly higher wine prices at F&E if that's more convient still meets the $20 bogey.

                                                                                                                                          2. l
                                                                                                                                            leetmom7 Jan 31, 2008 03:10 PM

                                                                                                                                            I hear Harbor City/Lomita is getting one at the corner of Palos Verdes Drive North and Western Ave (in the old Joanne's). Great location for folks coming off the Harbor Freeway heading back home on the hill, but the parking leaves much to be desired.

                                                                                                                                            1. Will Owen Feb 11, 2008 02:39 PM

                                                                                                                                              Okay - did anyone catch the two photos of the Grand Opening of the store in Carson in (I think) last Thursday's LAT California section? There was HRH Prince Andrew, in his breeziest Windsor white flannels suit and a great big toothy Windsor grin, reaching across the carts to shake hands with a crowd of very well-dressed black ladies (I'm glad someone dresses up for things around here! Not a damn baseball cap in the crowd.). It was all very jolly, and yeah, I am SO sure every one of those dear souls knew exactly who this smiley dude was. So touchingly lame, in that way the Brits have practically patented...

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                                mlgb Feb 11, 2008 06:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                It was Compton.

                                                                                                                                                Since the story ran in the Long Beach paper, the number of customers in the Del Amo/Paramount store seems to have doubled. And they were doing big weekly shoppings in full carts. Maybe the Brits need to do a better job making a splash about store openings. None of my neighbors know about it, and we're less than 3 miles away.

                                                                                                                                              2. Muhlyssa Feb 27, 2008 02:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                My first visit to F&E was yesterday. I shot over to the Glassel Park location from downtown (where I work) and that was easy breezy. I intentionally went to get clotted cream, which I needed for an afternoon tea I'm having this weekend. I've read in a lot of posts that they have it at F&E and when i got there, no one had even heard of it.
                                                                                                                                                I didn't buy a lot because I wasnt going directly home afterwards. The produce looked quite good as did the meats. Some things were priced very well (low), other items didn't seem all that swell. Maybe when the Valley location opens up, I'll revisit.

                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Muhlyssa
                                                                                                                                                  Muhlyssa Feb 27, 2008 09:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                  The other thing I noticed was, while the produce seemed fresh, the dairy products and some of the prepared foods were dangerously close to their expiration dates.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Muhlyssa
                                                                                                                                                    b
                                                                                                                                                    bluemonster Feb 28, 2008 11:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                    FYI--the dates seem to be 'sell-by" dates, not expiration dates. All of the dairy/cheeses/meats I have purchased have lasted way past the printed dates. In comparison, the meats & produce at TJs really need to be consumed by the printed dates. I think the only F & E items where the dates realy matter are the prepared food items, such as sushi or sandwiches.
                                                                                                                                                    Oh, and I haven't seen clotted cream at the GP store either.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bluemonster
                                                                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                                                                      mlgb Mar 8, 2008 07:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                      I agree, the dates are confusing and do not seem to be firm use-by dates especially for the fresh meats and whole produce. On fresh seafood, there's a little "freshness indicator" that's a small orange sticker. Some of it does last beyond the use by dates by a few days, but I'd rather not push it more than that. I've often purchased the end of day sushi for breakfast the next morning, and it's been fine.

                                                                                                                                                      The prepared produce that is chopped up and the bagged lettuce do need to be used by the date.

                                                                                                                                                      As for the meals, if you don't get around to using them, they also freeze well.

                                                                                                                                                2. e
                                                                                                                                                  ExtraCheesePlease Feb 27, 2008 03:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I usually go to the Hollywood location and I did see clotted cream in the dairy section the last time I was there (last Saturday morning).

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ExtraCheesePlease
                                                                                                                                                    notmartha Feb 27, 2008 06:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Hum, guess I need to look harder. Never seen it at the La Mirada or La Habra branches.

                                                                                                                                                  2. notmartha Feb 27, 2008 06:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I have to say, or warn that even though I really love F&E for many of the products, I found the breakfast sausage link, the ready made meatballs, and the chicken apple sausage to be pretty downright nasty.

                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: notmartha
                                                                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                                                                      mlgb Mar 8, 2008 07:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                      The chicken apple sausage I tried was on the bland side, but I wouldn't call it "nasty". I did like that it seemed to be made with breast meat and was very low fat/high protein. I think it needed some creative cooking (I braised it with some fennel), it doesn't have enough fat to be a breakfast-type sausage.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                                                        notmartha Mar 12, 2008 09:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Ok, maybe the chicken sausage wasn't as nasty as the meatballs or the breakfast links, but they were pretty bad. I poached them first and then pan-fried w/ oil. It was bland, dry, tasteless w/o a hint of apples. We ate two and tossed the rest (my hubbie never tosses anything generally)...

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: notmartha
                                                                                                                                                          m
                                                                                                                                                          mlgb Mar 13, 2008 08:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                          I think of them as the tofu of the meat world. Add your own flavoring. No apple taste or texture that I could discern either.

                                                                                                                                                          Mine weren't dry but I could see how they'd get that way if overcooked, since they're so lowfat. I like them for diet purposes, sort of like the pre-packaged 100 calorie snacks.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                                                            notmartha Mar 13, 2008 12:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                            To each his/her own. ;)

                                                                                                                                                            But for dieting purposes won't you do better just sauteeing/poach a chicken breast instead of some ground up mystery chicken meat?

                                                                                                                                                    2. OCEllen Feb 27, 2008 07:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                      I live four blocks from the Orange store and haven't found it the least bit interesting. The few items I've bought have been, let's just say, waaaaaaaay less than fresh.
                                                                                                                                                      Why it was put catty/corner to a Ralph's store engages marketing wonderment! (hmmm......I rarely shop there either).

                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: OCEllen
                                                                                                                                                        notmartha Feb 28, 2008 06:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                        That's strange. What are the things you had a problem with? Sometimes I will get the easily perishable marked down fruits like blackberries but even that lasted at least 3 days past the expiration date (unlike the bulk ones I got from Costco).

                                                                                                                                                        I won't try seafood or sushi that's marked down though.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: OCEllen
                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                          carter Feb 28, 2008 07:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                          Availability of real estate, or lack of it in other areas they would probably rather be.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: OCEllen
                                                                                                                                                            Das Ubergeek Mar 9, 2008 09:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                            That Ralphs is pretty dumpy, though... and they charge the same high prices as the fancy-shmancy remodeled Ralphs do.

                                                                                                                                                            I work very near to the Orange branch and I have to agree with you -- it's not going to replace TJ's and it's not interesting enough to make a side trip (except that their pears are absolutely off-the-hook delicious).

                                                                                                                                                          2. l
                                                                                                                                                            LMelba Mar 8, 2008 08:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Anyone notice if they carry their own brand of yogurt? And is it the same as the british versions? I noticed that people mentioned that they had greek yogurt, but what about the normal stuff. They had the most delicious peachy yogurt at their London locations.

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LMelba
                                                                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                                                                              mlgb Mar 8, 2008 09:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                              They carry flavored yogurts but I have no idea what they are like. They aren't trying to replicate their British products as a general rule.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LMelba
                                                                                                                                                                Das Ubergeek Mar 9, 2008 09:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                They carry Emmi brand Swiss yogurt, which makes me very happy.

                                                                                                                                                              2. e
                                                                                                                                                                EclecticEater Mar 8, 2008 08:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                I've become a regular customer of the Laguna Hills F&E. Their fish is quietly spectacular. For instance, day before we had albacore, and sauteed it, and it tasted fresh and sweet. Yesterday I breaded some tilapia and it, too, had that sweetness and flakiness that comes from fish that is fresh and hasn't been frozen. I honor the sell by dates when buying, but often get to use the food item a few days later with no ill effects. I think the fact that they openly show those dates means they're committed to "fresh", unlike many other stores. Their portions and the prices for them are just fine. The store is a little utilitarian, but, heck, I don't go to grocers for drama. The meat has always been good (true the apple sausage had virtually no fat in it and therefore wasn't all that tasty, while the bratwurst was just fine cooked on my grill); the chicken and turkey have been fine; a whole chicken for under $6 makes a wonderful pot chicken, ala Cooks Illustrated. What I'm saying is that you can carp, you can criticize, but the good stuff is definitely in that store, and these guys absolutely know what they're doing with their fish and meat, their pastas are superb (had mushroom tortellini for lunch and my wife and I loved the mushroomy taste), even their frozen pizza is darned good. So I'm a customer because small things, like their uncured ham which is just wonderful unlike Trader Joes, which tastes rawer and saltier, as well as the bigger things like their meats and poultry and I can't say enough about their fish.

                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: EclecticEater
                                                                                                                                                                  OCEllen Mar 8, 2008 08:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I guess I'd better go back to the one just six blocks away from me...I may have just not 'gotten it'?? Nothing I saw 'looked' fresh and the few items I bought were just not even passable. The lighting and minimal-ness could have thrown me off of superior products??

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: OCEllen
                                                                                                                                                                    m
                                                                                                                                                                    mlgb Mar 9, 2008 02:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    I think they're weakest on the prepared meals (which is funny, since that's supposedly what they were supposedly going to be all about).

                                                                                                                                                                    The fresh meat and seafood is indeed excellent. The dairy is good and priced lower than major supers. Their own-brand grocery staples are also very good and mostly made without preservatives.

                                                                                                                                                                    For snacks, the flavored tortilla chips are wonderful and crispy.

                                                                                                                                                                    I've noticed that they've discontinued the 75% markdowns (sigh) but you can still find 25-50% on same day or next day items.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                                                                      notmartha Mar 12, 2008 09:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      Some of the prepared meals are good, some are bad. I like their samosas and onion bhajis, and the penne in the pasta section. Their flavored burgers are also very good.

                                                                                                                                                                      The standout for me are definitely the seafood, bread and ice cream/gelato departments. Loved their scallops - better than any I had in any of the expensive restaurants. I think their gelato is really good, and the ice cream has flavors/texture that rivals a super premium national brand.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: EclecticEater
                                                                                                                                                                    bernardo Mar 9, 2008 08:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Surprisingly enough, Pavillions (not Vons) has been featuring some fine fresh fish options over the last few months. For example, thick cuts of excellent fresh sword on several occasion of late, most recently this week at $9/lb Grills up succulent and moist with just a little olive oil, salt & pepper, easily equal to that at King's or Walt's IMHO. Several weeks ago their fresh petrale sole was simply incredible, we coated the fillets with Cajun bread crumbs and pan fried them to a golden brown in a smidgeon of olive oil. Looking forward to wild salmon season, won't be long now that Spring has sprung.

                                                                                                                                                                    High quality fresh fish at half the cost at Bristol? Hmm, one more fruitless attempt to lend cache to the Pavillions label no doubt, reap the benefits while you can.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. bernardo Apr 1, 2008 09:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Bad news in LA Times Bsns section today is that F&E is likely missing sales targets by 70% after 6 mo running. Also, they're running into trouble with suppliers who resent their "arrogance". And mainline supers are considering smaller sleeker versions that would spell even greater competition for F&E.
                                                                                                                                                                    OTOH good news is that Tesco has apparently comitted $2 B over 5 yrs to crack the US market. So enjoy while you can.

                                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bernardo
                                                                                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                                                                                      mlgb Apr 1, 2008 10:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      I intend to. BTW, they are now offering a limited number of superspecials (as you predicted). EG, this past week they had that delicious uncured ham which I should have bought way more of, and fresh strawberries.

                                                                                                                                                                      The 75% markdowns are now gone, but I still see 50% especially in the meat section, and at that quality it's still worth stocking up.

                                                                                                                                                                      Another change is that they now take Amex.

                                                                                                                                                                      I've noticed some tweaking of the product lineup (and I haven't seen that delicious striped bass in a while). They won't release sales figures so anything you're reading is projection and speculation based on word of mouth. According to their own publicity, this is supposedly a preplanned pause. Of course they're bringing a corporate hotshot in from Thailand so it sounds a bit more serious than their own press suggests.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bernardo
                                                                                                                                                                        Joe Blowe Apr 2, 2008 10:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi...

                                                                                                                                                                        because links make me happy...

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Joe Blowe
                                                                                                                                                                          m
                                                                                                                                                                          mlgb Apr 15, 2008 03:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/a...

                                                                                                                                                                          Happy?

                                                                                                                                                                          Tesco said Fresh & Easy's sales are ahead of budget and sales densities are already higher than the U.S. supermarket average, with some stores exceeding $20 per square foot per week.

                                                                                                                                                                          'There's a lot of ill-informed comment. We're very pleased with the way things are going over there. We're seeing sales growing on a very consistent basis. The customer reaction is absolutely outstanding,' he said.

                                                                                                                                                                          Higginson said the group remains on track to open another 150 U.S. stores this year and will recommence the opening programme on July 2.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                                                                            e
                                                                                                                                                                            ExtraCheesePlease Apr 15, 2008 05:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            If they are going to invest 100 million pounds (roughly $200 million), they better find good things to say about F&E. I love my F&E but it's never ever busy. Just went there last night and the parking lot was crazy packed yet the F&E was ghost empty. Then went to Ralphs for other things and it was jammed to the gills. I hope F&E works and I'm happy Tesco is in it for the long run but it's going to get worse before it gets better.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ExtraCheesePlease
                                                                                                                                                                              OCEllen Apr 15, 2008 05:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              You must be talking about the Orange location - so slow I do wonder about freshness and I hope they are donating the 'leftovers' to local groups, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ExtraCheesePlease
                                                                                                                                                                                b
                                                                                                                                                                                bluemonster Apr 16, 2008 02:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                One thing I've noticed at my F & E in Eagle Rock is that many people run & in out for one or two items. So even though the parking lot never fills up, there are a lot of people running through the store for a quick trip.
                                                                                                                                                                                Personally, even though I love TJs, I never go in unless I'm doing a full load of shopping because it's so crowded. F& E seems to be going after a different kind of shopper who wants to grab a few things and go, but wants better prices & quality than at a typical convenience store.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: mlgb
                                                                                                                                                                                Joe Blowe Apr 15, 2008 07:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                Fanboy,

                                                                                                                                                                                They provided guidance, not actual numbers. From your link:

                                                                                                                                                                                "Tesco will begin providing detailed U.S. sales and trading results at the time of its first half results in September."

                                                                                                                                                                                If all's well then, congratulations to you and the other F&E shoppers. If it's looking bad for them, you can count on me NOT to post to this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                Goodbye.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. b
                                                                                                                                                                            Bippy Apr 28, 2011 08:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            This report comes from a Brit living in Cal for 11 years.

                                                                                                                                                                            The store has a very familiar fell, like a mini tescos. They are also doing things in a very tescos like way. There is even a knock down price section for items near their sell by date.

                                                                                                                                                                            Prepared chilled not frozen items are very popular in Europe, because they are fresher and easier to use than prefrozen items that may have been frozen for months before hitting the shelves. Instead in Europe you might buy a fresh made up curry, and have the choice to cook and eat it soon, or freeze it yourself at home.

                                                                                                                                                                            A lot of items seem to be locally produced versions of items, made to Tesco/Freash and Easy specifications and then sold under the fresh and easy banner. Reading the ingredients lists will show no artificial preservatives/coloring/or flavoring on most items. It would be rare to find such in other US supermarkets. Now the prices are good. and everything I bought their is comparable quality to Traider Joes so far.

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