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Jun 11, 2008 05:28 PM

Sweetgrass Opens June 14th, 9:45 am

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  1. Went to the opening of Sweetgrass Market on Saturday about noon. It looked to be about 60% occupied. Overall, I liked it ... but I was a little disappointed in the limited selections, the somewhat sterile non-market appearance, the traffic-challenged booths and what seemed like higher than usual prices. Since I live close by, I had hoped for something more than it delivered.

    Rouge Market, sadly, was not there yet.

    A Touch of India was surprisingly small with a limited selection of Indian and West African food in plastic containers. Unfortunately, I was not able to taste anything, alhtough they did have a warmer set up.

    More Than Mangoes was interesting, but with a very limited selection and seriously understocked. Not much space to move around, with only 4 others in the booth.

    The Headless Chef looked very promising. Several people were buying their freshly made sandwiches, and it looked quite busy. In addition to their veggie platters, their other prepared foods were in vac paks in very small portions and IMO, very high prices. It was very difficult moving around in their booth.

    Red Barn Bread looked excellent, but with a very limited selection. Their booth also had a serious traffic jam if more than 4 or 5 people were in it looking at their bread displays.

    The Candy Kid had a good location, with an excellent selection.

    Springbank Cheese Company had a good layour and display, but seemed understocked with a limited selection. Their prices seemed high, but maybe that's just because of recent adjustments due to shipping costs.

    Valta Bison Farms had perhaps the best layour and overall display of products. Excellent booth with a fairly good selection, mostly bison products, but some other meats too (Valbella, for example). I seem to remember everyhting being in vac paks.

    There was no produce available at all. No real butcher shop, chicken, veal, lamb or pork. Perhaps some of these will sign up for the remaining space. Sweetgrass is certainly not a "market" and it has a long way to go before it becomes a local destination ... but I hope it gets there since those of us who live here would sure like to see these merchants succeed.

    1. I was pretty disappointed - it was much smaller than I expected. I think it's great if you happen to live in the area but I don't think i'll venture out again unless Rouge has some must haves - otherwise I can shop closer to home and/or work for cheese and bison.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pants

        We dropped by yesterday, about 2.30pm - it wasn't that busy but then the big Co-op over the road was almost empty as well, I think it's the area which is still more construction sites than residences!

        Anyway I really lik ethe place & hope it goes on to bigger & better things. I particularly liked Red Barn Bread - a really nice selection of breads, the San Francisco sourdough they were sampling was awesome & the muffins/cookies were hearty - certainly as a bakery selection it was up there with the best the city has to offer.

        I loved the huge selection at Valta Bison, much more extensive than the range they have at Currie Barracks - they had the Rocky Mountain Flatbread pizzas that we love.

        Springbank cheese was similarly well stocked & well presented, the guy said he had 200+ types of cheese & had everything we were looking for.

        I bought some bananitos from the Exotic Fruit guy - small but perfectly formed bananas that my 10month & 3 year old devoured with gusto - will be going back fro those for sure. My daughter badgered me into buying a load of Cape Gooseberries - now I'm not sure what to do with them!! He had so many interesting fruits, next time I am going to buy with recipes in mind.

        The Indian food vendor supplied our lunch, crisply fried pakoras which were great although the samosas were only so-so. I have yet to have a great samosa in Canada.

        We browsed the other stores, but without any real ourpose - its clear the market needs more vendors & possibly more customers but I amsure they will eventually come.

        It's great that Calgary has another true foodie destination!

      2. I dropped in today, Thursday, just after lunchtime. It was eerily quiet, very few shoppers. I was also surprised at how empty it felt overall, lack of vendors it seemed, and all the stalls were tiny. I'd peg it as "in progress" (like the rest of the area).

        I bought a couple of mangoes and an apple guava from More than Mangoes and had a yummy butter chicken lunch from A Taste of India. The latter's actual restaurant is much closer to my home, however, so I'll order from there next time.

        May give it another shot in a few month's time.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Jasz

          I agree, very empty feeling...probably because so much is still vacant. Picked up some nice Valbella smoked turkey at Valta Bison and some dragon fruit at MTM... but left feeling a bit let down (?) Probably because we've been waiting so long my expectations were a bit high. I'll definitely head back when Rouge has opened.

          1. re: maplesugar

            Stopped by recently to get our supply of Valta bison (highly recommended -- the garlic coil, they can't keep it in stock) Was still disappointed even after reading the posts, was a bit of a let-down. Had a nice conversation with the Mango guy, and picked up some fruit. Hopefully things will get rolling in the fall and when more people move into the area.

        2. Dropped in on the weekend and my feeling is that it does have potential but it's just so far out in the middle of nowhere right now, so there's not going to be any decent vibe until the community fills in around it. Tried the sourdough bread from Red Barn bakery which was ok but nothing fantastic (I have been spoiled with good bread from Europe so nothing here has so far come close). Bought a few crazy large mangos from More than Mangos and they were pretty good, hopefully they will bring in a few more exotics as it wasn't that exotic as I expected. But then again having lived in Australia and Europe I might have been spoiled again....

          Looking forward to seeing what Rouge brings to the plate though!

          3 Replies
          1. re: slingshotz

            I haven't been to Sweetgrass Market since the summer. I checked their site recently and there is no mention of Rouge. Anyone know what happened?

            1. re: maplesugar

              Rouge pulled out & in it's place there is a produce stall, which in my opinion is more crucial to the viability of the market...I haven't been since the produce was slated to open so cannot comment on what its like though.

              1. re: graemejw

                True, they were seriously lacking in the produce dept. too bad about Rouge though. Thanks graeme :)