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Sobeys Urban Fresh - Edmonton

t
tom arto May 7, 2008 09:14 PM

Sounds interesting - opens on Thursday, will be interested to hear reviews on here........

http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal...

  1. b
    Bob Mac May 8, 2008 12:10 PM

    Tom, I too am looking forward to seeing how it works out. I hope it does not end up like Urban Fare which opened with considerable promise offering up-scale prepared foods with wine available but then declined with respect to availability, quality and service until they closed.

    Mind you I do not think they properly judged their market albeit the economic figures probably looked good to the consultants when they decided on Crestwood. However, I think they may have misjudged their clientelle and the local allegiance to Andy's IGA down the street. After the first neighbourhood dinner party with a loaf of their "$100 bread" and or, a "square" watermelon is anyone else going to do it? [smile]

    This Sobeys has the advantage of all the developments and condo livers on 104th and the general area who may be prepared do their "daily shopping" walking back home. I on the other hand living out in the "burbs" will probably have too much difficulty finding parking to make it worth my while.

    I laugh with Ed at deVines that I stop in at his winestore if I can spy a parking spot on Jasper west of 103 or otherwise head to Liquor Select where I can always find a place on 149th.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bob Mac
      e
      egon61 May 8, 2008 05:17 PM

      Haha, I can offer a perspective of my own...life often finds me in that area already parked and on foot. Ever since the store has been under construction I've been looking forward to the opening when I can quickly walk across the street, pop into Sobey's for 1 or 2 items, and then continue on my way, as opposed to getting the car, driving over to the other nearest alternative (Jasper/109th Save-On) and fighting my way through their battleground of a parking lot :)

      1. re: egon61
        b
        Bob Mac May 8, 2008 05:25 PM

        no question egon61 that you are a prime example of what one would assume are intended and are going to be their prime clientele. I certainly wouuld be if I lived in the area.

        They may get some initial "tire kicking" business from lunch tme workers who work but do not live in the area but the "daily" grocery shoppers like you described are likely their focus....and should be.

        LOL...I know what you mean about "parkling lot battlegrounds"...that is why I shop at Sobeys in the west end rather than that "gulag" a.k.a. an accident waiting to happen where the Callingwood Safeway is located.

        We'll look forward to your reports

    2. k
      kazzy May 8, 2008 11:43 PM

      I promised myself I would wait until the crowds died down a bit, but after getting home from work tonight, I SIMPLY HAD TO GO.

      The place is pretty amazing. It's incredibly compact, and the lookie-loos do nothing to help the natural congestion in the aisles of people checking out every nook and cranny for new items. I, too, hope this will wane with time, although Save On Foods still remains an insane hot bed of people and poorly restocked shelves even after this many years.

      A quick overview:

      - huge selection of gourmet and odd veggies, including, but not limited to: round and coloured carrots, baby cauliflower, baby this, baby that. Many kinds of peppers, dried and fresh. Great looking greens. Nothing too crazy for fruits yet, so I'll still go to T&T for interesting fruits.

      - BEAUTIFUL floral section, it may be my go to place after Artworks closes in the afternoons if I need a bouquet

      - I may be wrong, but there are 14 kinds of dried mushrooms!

      - lots of different frozen vegetables and meals, to cater to the 'downtown singleton crowd' (Perhaps as proof I was asked by a few men around the store and in line when I was holding some fruit tarts if they were "my dinner")

      - cheeses to rival the Italian Centre and maybe even a place like Paddy's, with lots of samples which amazed me given the foot traffic they saw today, their first official day; I hope that service sticks around (speaking of which, I was asked if I needed help by four people, even if they were weary looking)

      - the bread and pastries were pretty, and the fruit tarts were good, but need another few visits to determine if it's really good. They do sell bread BY THE SLICE which intrigues me. Sometimes I don't want to commit to an entire loaf, you know?

      - there is a coffee bar wrapped around a fireplace, near some huge doors that will roll up on warm days. What ambience that will add to Jasper! In addition, nestled up against is is the wine and oyster bar, I can't wait to try it out.

      - nice selection of oils and vinegars, including a small locked area with truffles, truffle oil and drops

      - Again, lots of pre prepared meals and snacks, everything from delicious looking rare roast beef and fired pizzas ($10) to store made sushi, even a nice pile of a favorite; seaweed summer salad! There was also an olive and salsa bar, which was REALLY exciting for those lunch time cravings!

      This will be my go to store for many things, helping stop the multiple stops around the city to gather things for a meal. Once the downtown farmer's market gets going, I absolutely cannot wait for Saturday mornings. It will definitely take a few visits to really investigate all that can be had there though. Gogogogo Edmonton, let's get a few more of these type of places!

      5 Replies
      1. re: kazzy
        k
        kazzy May 9, 2008 12:23 PM

        My boyfriend "made" me drag him there for oysters today, which were great by the way. I don't really agree with their preparations; candied tequila garlic and raspberries and pesto and parm cheese, but the pesto ones were what we went with and they were good. Pretty tiny portions at the bistro, but it is tapas. The duck salad and lamb chops were okay. The bar is a bit chaotic, so be prepared if you go. The antipasto platter looked great though.

        Anyhow, got a closer look at many things, namely the butcher. There are singular bison steaks to buy, and also frozen caribou, duck, lamb etc etc. House made sausages and also Greens, Eggs and Ham sausages. Really great selection and again, helpful staff.

        There was also a really nice selection of spices which I missed on the first tour; including grains of paradise (which I couldn't find even at spice shops in town before) and lavender! Exciting!

        I'm just so impressed with this place; really dedicated to only food. No laundry detergents, toilet papers, magazines, cosmetics etc etc; just chock full of high quality and specialty ingredients and nothing too ridiculous (ie; $100 imported breads or square watermelons). Now I hope it calms down enough to make it a feasible shopping destination. The line ups were looking to be about 10-15 minute waits, but this was at about 11:30 so moving into the lunch rush.

        1. re: kazzy
          livetocook May 11, 2008 08:23 AM

          Wow. Never heard about this store until yesterday when it was briefly mentioned in the paper. I just thought it was another typical grocery store added to the mix to help the downtown core.

          I really want to check this place out now. Different types of mushrooms, cheeses, bread by the slice.....And you really have me curious about this grains of paradise. There's a ton of things I want to add it to. :)

          1. re: kazzy
            e
            egon61 May 11, 2008 06:09 PM

            For the record, they do have a basic selection of non-food items such as cleaning/laundry products etc. I didn't see exactly what they had but there is a small isle devoted to that stuff in roughly the NW corner of the store.

            1. re: egon61
              k
              kazzy May 12, 2008 12:29 PM

              This is true. There is also some glassware. So if you need something desperately you could still get it there, but they've still paid far more attention to the actual grocer side of being a grocery, which I really appreciate.

            2. re: kazzy
              a
              astergirl Aug 4, 2008 11:45 PM

              do they serve oysters raw as well as cooked? i love oysters, but only when cooked.

          2. d
            Dan G May 12, 2008 01:07 PM

            I find it interesting that they have caribou. I had been told once that it wasn't an animal that was farmed, and any animals that were killed by the parks/wildlife people went mostly to aboriginal communities and a small amount to the high-end restaurant trade. I will be picking some up really soon for the barbecue!

            I'm glad to see that it is an Urban Fresh going in on 112 st where Organic Roots was. I work at th U, on the south end of campus, so easy access for lunch and quick pick-ups after work.

            1. anonymoose May 13, 2008 10:43 AM

              Went yesterday for lunch, and was impressed. Definitely lots of interesting things to see including those dried mushrooms that kazzy mentioned. They did have some cheeses I haven't seen before, but the section isn't as big as Paddy's or the Italian Centre's. Lots of stuff to browse in the cleaning products/juice/spice aisles too. Small selection but interesting choices. It was too crowded to look around for long, so I just grabbed some lunch and will be back to explore at a later date.

              Food - had a Montreal smoked meat and oka cheese pressed sandwich - tasted great but I wished the chees slice was a little thicker as the mustard and meat overwhelmed the cheese. Also had some borscht - the dill in it was a nice touch but the soup needed some beets added that didn't have all the flavour cooked out of them. And all I could think of while eating it was "I wish it had a dollop of sour cream...."

              1. littlegreenpea May 14, 2008 07:43 PM

                I went today as I was passing by. It's certainly headed in the right direction. They're produce selection is quite nice, as noted above: Several varieties of tomatoes, radishes, lettuces, carrots, etc. The selections of dried mushrooms and dried peppers are great -- I always have trouble finding them.

                Wouldn't say that the cheese counter rivals Paddy's though (neither for selection nor for service). I asked if they had fromage blanc, knowing full well that they might not. The girl behind the counter deli/cheese was quite nice (and honest) and replied, "What's that? I'm not too familiar with the cheeses, sorry". To be fair, she maybe just worked the deli side. She looked around for someone to ask for a couple of seconds, then turned to me and apologized. So, I'm still not sure whether they have fromage blanc -- I guess I'll never know.

                3 Replies
                1. re: littlegreenpea
                  i
                  ihatepickyeaters May 14, 2008 09:38 PM

                  you should be able to find it at planet organic...if you are looking (or maybe it was just a test)!

                  1. re: ihatepickyeaters
                    littlegreenpea May 15, 2008 09:20 AM

                    No, I'm certainly looking (but it was a good test, too!). Thanks. I was just going to post on CH asking where I could find it.

                    1. re: littlegreenpea
                      littlegreenpea May 15, 2008 03:03 PM

                      Got it at Planet Organic. Thanks again!

                2. Bryn May 15, 2008 03:56 PM

                  I went in because I was downtown and curious today. Very reasonable bison prices, I picked up some ground and a pizza. Their pizza is awesome. I got the bianco one with blue cheese, bechmel, parmasan, and boccini. It was chewy and crispy and cheesy.

                  1. mastermaq May 23, 2008 03:48 PM

                    I really like Sobeys Urban Fresh, but it seems to me that they could with one or two more checkouts! Every time I've been, the place has just been insanely busy.

                    1. f
                      foodiesnorth Aug 5, 2008 10:56 AM

                      We love the place and have availed ourselves of the wonderful exotic fare including kangaroo, camel etc. BUT wow what a horrible experience we had at the food counter/tapas bar this weekend. It was SO bad the manager will getting a detailed letter. We opted for a few small dishes, one of which came with grey proscuitto. We pointed it out to some person in a chef jacket (not the exec. chef I would note - no clue what his background is, but public relations it is not). He insisted that there is nothing wrong with grey meat. He then insisted that "it is cured meat, it can't go bad!". We had to convince him to get new stuff for us and he did so with considerable attititude. He plopped the newer meat in top of the grey meat and had to be asked to remove the latter. The scallops were salty and mushy beyond any human ability to consume. The beef sliders sure sounded good but were reheated, dry, tasteless things...I don't even know how to properly describe them. They came on some sort of stale bread. The antipasto plate had some smoked salmon which was out of place and bland, the proscuitto desribed above, cheese, some heirloom tomatoes all covered with a commercial balsamic glaze...even on the salmon...it was awful! Along with a rather nice fruity wine mixture (and I ususally recoil from such things...but it really was good!) the little meal came to over $40. We left almost everything on the plates. We were even treated to the pseudo chef berating the rather nice and knowledgable server for having thrown out a couple of oystrers she felt were unsafe. Apparently it would adversely affect his write off stats. Geez guys..this was taking place about a foot and a half from where we were eating (right over the raw oyster bar!).

                      We hope for all Edmonton foodies' sake that this was an exception. This place is too important to let's it guard down. Surely they will take better care in handing out the chef's jackets...but we still love the place.

                      One more thing: I noticed a comment earlier in the post about caribou. It is commerically harvested in Nunavut and processed to very high standards in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. It has recieved EU certification and can now ship product to Europe. Blaine at Buffalo Valley Variety Meats at Whitemud Crossing (at Calgary Trail South and Whitemud Freeway) has been carrying it and commericially harvested musk ox for quite some time. I encourage people to support this home town boy and his modest butcher shop for all the exotics, bison, elk and even snake along with the caribou and musk ox. His supply predates Sobeys and he took a chance at the Slow Foodies request.

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