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May 24, 2008 01:15 PM

What shouldn't I miss at Bklyn Fairway?

Going to Fairway for the first time and expect to be overwhelmed so to make my trip manageable, what specialty foods should I be sure to look for? TIA

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  1. It's hard to say definitively, since I don't know what you already buy from other places. There is probably absolutely nothing that is available exclusively at Fairway, and lots of destinations that are better - Murray's is certainly a better cheese shop than Fairway's counter, for instance. But the genius of Fairway is bringing it all together under one roof and maintaining non-extortive prices.

    Here's my mental tour through the store (easy to do because it's so strictly ordered):

    Produce - quality is not fantastic, but some foods are very conveniently presented. When it's fresh, the loose mesclun by the pound is a good deal. I also like the snow peas/sugar snap peas by the pound. They are often a good source for poblano, serrano , and habanero chilis.

    Deli counter - no faves here. They seem to have some nice prepared foods and some more exotic fare, but I don't buy it.

    Cheese counter - is good. If you've got some favorites that are not too exotic (like, say, aged gouda) you can look forward to picking it up.

    Olive bar - I always buy a half-cup of kalamatas. Also a good source for neat martini olives.

    Fish counter - I really like it. Wide variety, always seems quite fresh, good staff.

    The wall of dried stuff - nuts, candy, dried fruits, etc. I actually don't buy the little containers that much, instead I hang a left and head back into the "bulk" dispensers in the organic section. There I buy rice, popcorn, and flaxseed granola in weighed bags.

    OK, back out of the organic section, skipping past the meats. (Ooops, forgot to stop at the back wall, for hummus and the bulk dry tortollini. OK, onward.)

    Into the spices, fancy soda, Belgian beers, and chocolates nook. Buy that ground cardamom or Sichuan peppers or whatever thing you've had a hard time finding. Some grapefruit GuS ("grown-up soda"). Some nice dark chocolate.

    Now you've got to go up and down the long aisles. These are pretty boring, frankly. Lately I buy packaged madelines in the first aisle, maybe a nice jelly/jam in the middle, and I do like the italian specialties in the last aisle (tomato paste in a squeezable tube, yo.) Basically, the cool stuff is concentrated towards the back of the store - as you go down the aisles towards the registers it gets more mundane.

    Bakery and cafe. Meh. The highlight for me is huge, cheap "wraps" in various flavors. And I'm buying rugelach for dessert.

    If you are lucky you can buy canned cel-ray in the soda aisle. 20% of the time.

    Snacks. Dairy. Boring. Freezer section is a little unusual, nothing too spectacular - some cool soy ice creams, shelled edamame, tasty and healthy-seeming empanadas.

    And we're done. Hopefully you've been checking your list, did you get everything?

    1. They are a great importer of olive oil. They will have bottles of perhaps 8 types open for sampling. Also high end anchovies, tuna, sardines, etc. Also, if you are there at a quiet time, get a lobster roll at the snack bar ($8!) and have it on their deck facing the harbor and Statue of Liberty.

      And while you are in the neighborhood, get a Key Lime Pie from Steve's.

      11 Replies
      1. re: acemdin

        can you tell more about the lobster roll? someone just told me about it last night. worth the calories?

        1. re: MB fka MB

          If you're worried about calories, skip the chips.

          1. re: acemdin

            worried about calories is not the same as WORTH the calories--i.e. how good is it?

            1. re: MB fka MB

              Good enough that I bothered to make a point of it

              1. re: MB fka MB

                Worst lobster roll I've ever had. Also the cheapest, and that includes Maine. However, the low price doesn't justify it. It's fairly tasteless lobster meat smothered in celery. Bleh.

                1. re: brooklyn1966

                  I respectfully disagree. I had the lobster roll for the 1st time Thurs. night, based on reviews here and thought it was very good. The lobster meat was very sweet. If you prefer the buttered style over the mayo style, you may not like it, but I did not find it overly mayo'd. They were out of cole slaw, so I got a green salad, which I prefer anyway.

                  1. re: brooklyn1966

                    I agree with bklyn1966 about the lobster roll not being very good. I've eaten at that section of the Fairway market near the water views about 40 or 50 times. I'm a regular Fairway shopper and the odds are better than not that I'll eat something at their cafe.

                    I generally have enjoyed all of the various sandwich combinations they serve, but not the lobster roll. I've even had the lobster roll two other times on the chance that the first lobster roll I ever had there was an aberration. It wasn't.

                    On the topic of what not to miss at Fairway, you can decide for yourself. The market's large enough that you're bound to find something suitable to your personal tastes, perhaps someting that you wouldn't ordinarily find in another market. Many Fairway posts on these boards seem to dwell on Fairway's shortcomings, rather that focus on the fact that Fairway provides a rather large selection of goods, including items from companies not usually found in the typical supermarket. What I don't like about Fairway is their produce - specifically the leafy produce - like basil, parsley, etc. It's usually either too soggy, too dirty or past its prime. So there: I ended this post by describing a negative aspect of the market.

                    1. re: pizmet

                      I'm surprised you don't like the produce. I almost always find it to be very good and fresh. Too dirty is a funny complaint. I don't cook/eat anything without giving it a rinse.

                      And I've had the RH Fairway lobster roll a number of times. It's good, and a good value. I wouldn't go out of my way for it, but it's perfect if you're hungry when food shopping, or just want an excuse to sit down.

                      Re: the orig post, here's where I completely agree with pizmet. Fairway is a supermarket. It has tons of ordinary and extraordinary products. Shop according to your own needs

                      1. re: sarapeater

                        I'm with pizmet on the lacklustre quality of Fairway produce. I think I remarked on it in another thread before. I'm not bothered by the dirt (it is dirty, mind you). But I am bothered by the poor quality of what they tend to have and how often I get home to find at least some of what I bought includes rotten / past its prime stuff that slipped in as I was quickly grabbing. i.e. spoiled onions in particular. It's really the weakest thing about Fairway.

                        1. re: Nehna

                          I agree that you have to be careful in choosing produce there, but the rotting onions thing seems to run rampant no matter where I shop. My corner store is better than Key foods in park slope and better than fairway for sure.

                          1. re: MB fka MB

                            That is true....horribly annoying to get home with one onion for cooking a meal and find it rotten inside :(

          2. "overwhelmed" - Nah, it's not that good. The packaged food is interesting, various tubes and jars of food from everywhere. Most of the food areas are not as good as smaller specialized stores elsewhere in the city, although I like the convenience of having a decent selection of everything in one place, with parking.

            The olive oil tasting bar is great. Nice source of Agave Juice. Otherwise Whole Foods has less selection of groceries but better prepared food.

            Don't miss:
            Le Nells, 416 Van Brunt Street b/t Coffey & Van Dyke, Brooklyn NY 11231
            Steve's Key Lime pie
            Red Hook ball fields (see posts
            )Parked behind Fair Way is one of the last Brooklyn Trolleys. Some weekends the harbour people have free Kayaking.
            If the Rail Barge museum is there is might be worth a walk

            1. Fairway isn't really a big purveyor of specialty foods. It's just a better than average supermarket with good prices. When I go there, my grocery list usually includes olive oil (good quality and cheap), organic milk (v v cheap), and fresh pasta (the porcini agnolotti is *wonderful* for a lazy weeknight dinner). Boxed cereal, jams, yogurt, dried herbs and baking ingredients are also cheaper than at my local supermarket, but I wouldn't call them specialty.

              They also have some nice artisanal hams at the deli counter and a good selection of cheeses at good prices, but not as good as Stinky or Murray's.

              The breads can also be good if you get them hot, but it's not better than the local CG bakeries. Produce, as others have said, is nothing special, although they have a decently sized organic selection.

              Overall, I'd say it's a good place to go to save money, but you're not going to find anything you can't get elsewhere.

              1. One "custom" item that they have is in the bread section, kind of near the bagels. It is a thin crackery thing that comes in a plastic bag. It is available in the same flavors as bagels--everything, sesame, etc. I like the everything. It is very addictive--good w/butter.