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Whole Foods Venice - Impressed!!

Dommy Sep 6, 2008 12:52 AM

Okay... we have been waiting for a WHILE for tis open, not because we are WF fans, but because it's on the way back home from Yoga Class and it's nice to have a healthy salad bar option for dinner past 9p.

And so we went last night, not expecting much other than non wilted spinach and were impressed. It's not nearly as big as the El Segundo or Pasadena Mego-Stores but the space is used so much better!! (I seriously haven't been able to figure that Pasadena location out at ALL... I never find anything!!) Plus the Aisles are bigger and nicely spaced (A complaint I have of the El Segundo store!)

Overall the feel is very friendly and they offer just enough of the good stuff (Another issue of the El Segundo store is that they have streamlined their offerings so much lately that it looks really bad on the enormous selves with multiple facings of the same product. :P)

The Salad bar gets a thumbs up as does the Sushi area. I had some Pizza which was pretty good and P. had a very very RICH Mushroom soup that tasted anything but canned. The Wine bar was situated in a nice quite corner (The El Segundo is too out in the open IMHO).

But of course, it's hardly perfect... first the parking spots and aisle was WAY Too small.... I joked it's prius only parking... Also, the seating area for food is much smaller than either of the above mentioned stores... It was fine at 10p... but durring a busy time... it might get a bit tight... Also, a little knit pick... The Rice Puddings are stored next to the gelato... leading to frozen rice pudding... Not good eats...

Overall though, we are thrilled to have a WF of that caliber so much closer to us. I wasn't the only person to think so either... tonight at the Yarn Shop nearby, all the ladies were atwitter at their new favorite place to shop...

--Dommy!

  1. Dommy Sep 9, 2008 05:43 PM

    Okay went back to today to scout out the Lunch Time Rush... to be fair, I left to arrive at 1pm.

    Traffic wasn't terrible getting there, but there is no left turn light on Rose and Lincoln, so it may be prone to jam... Also, exiting on the Rose side is a bit hairy because they still have some construction equiptment there blocking the view to the right...

    As I noted in my first post, the parking lot is incredibly narrow... so they had a an ARMY of guys in hazard vests guiding people in and out of spaces. The lot was PACKED... but there was a good stream of in and out people so spaces opened up quickly...

    As the parking lot noted, the place was packed inside... all checkstands busy, especially the cluster of express (Which they have LOTS). The stations were staffed and salad bar replensed often. I was there for a special ingrient and wanted to grab a quicky lunch. I opened for a Portabello rice bowl from the Asian stand and when the guy said... 5 minutes... I said... yeah right... but it really was 5 minutes!!

    They actually have lots of outside seating, so the seating situation wasn't nearly as dire was I had predicted.... So I got to enjoy my Lunch. At a bit under $7.00 it wasn't a bad deal, especially considering P.'s dinner that other night was about the same size and $10.00...

    Again, overall experience... thumbs up...

    --Dommy!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dommy
      Dommy Sep 9, 2008 05:44 PM

      Here's the picture of my lunch! ;D

       
      1. re: Dommy
        a
        AGENT FOODIE Sep 10, 2008 12:36 AM

        they need to make the WF in torrance like the new ones in venice and el segundo.

    2. n
      nosh Sep 6, 2008 02:56 PM

      I wonder if this new store will follow the path of the Westwood branch. When it opened, they were on top of their game, liberal with sample platters of items at the bottom of aisles (chips, crackers, cereals, etc) and always with one or two cheese samples, sometimes served on bread rounds. Nowadays, any such offerings are few and far between, and almost always confined to melon and pineapple chunks.

      The thing I like about Whole Paycheck is that their housebrand milk is priced similarly to Trader Joe's, which makes it much less expensive than the supermarkets. Their not-from-concentrate OJ is $3.19 per half-gallon, just over TJ's $2.99. But almost all items in their meat dept. were more expensive than Bristol Farms, to my astonishment, when I compared both a couple weeks ago. And so was much of their produce, with fewer items on sale.

      8 Replies
      1. re: nosh
        c
        carter Sep 6, 2008 03:09 PM

        Costco still does the best pricing for fresh Orange Juice though, but yes, WF & TJ are close.
        As to meats, beware that many of their meat items are not directly comparable, in that the purveyors are not the same and the feeding conditions likewise.
        Bristol Farms is the same as Albertsons, and typically gets most of its products from the Albertsons purveyors, at both greater quantity discount if available, yet meat suppliers may have fewer qualitative attributes. Not sure, yet something to keep in mind.

        1. re: carter
          sbritchky Sep 6, 2008 04:27 PM

          I've never had a good piece of beef from Bristol Farms, although they do carry a few good pork items such as hams from Smithfield, VA. Whole Foods, on the other hand, often has top-quality steaks -- the prime, dry-aged NY strip, e.g. -- which is one of the reasons I go there.

          1. re: sbritchky
            c
            carter Sep 6, 2008 04:47 PM

            My point exactly, whether I said it properly or not. Bristol Farms gets the best of what is available to Albertsons, yet WFoods goes elsewhere, and typically to better suppliers, and hence, the higher prices and better quality.
            Lamb at WF is far superior, as is much of the chicken selection. Not overly impressed with WF seafood, though.

            1. re: carter
              Dommy Sep 6, 2008 07:08 PM

              Concur... WF seafood has never WOWed me... I do much better at the Fish guy at the Mar Vista Farmer's market... and other high volume fish/shrimp opperations...

              --Dommy!

        2. re: nosh
          westsidegal Sep 7, 2008 10:23 PM

          also, they charge the same as tjs for stoneyfield kefir.
          they are the only source that i could find for the valrhona cocoa powder that i use to feed my ice blended addiction
          they are the best source for sliced organic cheeses for lunch box sandwiches.
          they are the only source i could find for the 'veggie' canadian bacon.

          1. re: westsidegal
            Dommy Sep 7, 2008 10:45 PM

            Try Surfas as well for the Valrhona... I have a 1lb tub from Surfas of the unsweetened that was a bit under $11

            --Dommy!

            1. re: Dommy
              westsidegal Sep 7, 2008 10:49 PM

              thank you!!!!
              i'm so addicted now that getting this stuff is now a matter of life or death!
              (i usually buy it in the two pound mylar packages that whole foods gets direct from their distributer.)

              1. re: westsidegal
                Dommy Sep 7, 2008 11:03 PM

                No problem... be sure to ask for some help find it, it's not in Valrohna packaging, but their own (And trust me it's the REAL thing)... they may also have that larger size you speak of... or might consider carrying it... You are not alone in your love... my Low Carb friends SWEAR by it... They blend it into cottage cheese with some splenda for a chocolate pudding type treat... .

                --Dommy!

        3. b
          bulavinaka Sep 6, 2008 10:27 AM

          I was able to go into the store back in late July and early August and agree with you about the general layout - the design and use of space seemed much more well thought out, as well as the emphasis on "green" materials. I have yet to go back since they opened though, and am curious to see their bakery and deli selections, in particular their cheese and charcuterie choices.

          7 Replies
          1. re: bulavinaka
            Dommy Sep 6, 2008 07:06 PM

            Very.... VERY good cheese selection. I would be more excited, but I need to Check out the new Cheese Shop in Montana... that also recieved raves at the Yarn Shop last night as I sampled their home made Mozz there...

            --Dommy!

            1. re: Dommy
              b
              bulavinaka Sep 6, 2008 08:41 PM

              Thanks for the heads-up on cheese and hope you let us know about the new Cheese Shop on Montana when you get a chance... :)

              1. re: bulavinaka
                mollyomormon Sep 8, 2008 08:35 AM

                I've been in three times to Andrew's, the new cheese store on Montana. I love it! Andrew, and all the people working there, are so enthusiastic about cheese and anxious to give samples. Andrew told me they plan to stock wine but don't anticipate getting a license until closer to the holidays. I love that each cheese has a little card describing the flavor, history and good accompaniments to the cheese. Because of that, the shelves look a little spartan currently. Definitely check it out.

                1. re: mollyomormon
                  n
                  New Trial Sep 8, 2008 10:26 AM

                  Spartan, but not like the Cheese Shop in the Monty Python sketch, I presume. Where on Montana is Andrew's? I was on Montana Saturday for lunch and would have loved to stop in to sample his wares had I but known.

                  1. re: New Trial
                    mollyomormon Sep 8, 2008 10:36 AM

                    It's a tiny bit better than that ;). The cheese selection is actually very good, it's just that shelves outside the cheese case look a little bare without any wine. It's between Lincoln and 7th on the south side of Montana next to the Starbucks that used to be Diedrich's. I think they're open every day from 10am to 7pm. I'd love to hear your take on it!

                    1. re: mollyomormon
                      n
                      New Trial Sep 8, 2008 10:40 AM

                      Thanks!

                      1. re: mollyomormon
                        n
                        New Trial Sep 28, 2008 05:27 PM

                        I finally got the chance to peek in this afternoon, sadly after a big brunch so I did not have room to sample anything this visit. An interesting, well-thought out selection so I look forward to going back often. I liked the cards with the tasting notes and pairing suggestions, too; nice, personal touch! The sandwiches sounded tempting--have you tried them? There are now other gourmet items lining the shelves but still no wine. Oh, and while I was there, someone actually asked for Wensleydale! I waited in vain for the counterman to respond with the rest of the skit but, apparently, he wasn't a Monty Python fan. Still, the customer did get the very last bit of Wensleydale in the shop so I was somewhat "mollified."

            2. sbritchky Sep 6, 2008 05:41 AM

              A Whole Foods that offers prepared items worth eating? Somebody must be sneaking nitrites into the kitchen. I've only gone to the new mega-store in Tustin and didn't like it compared to the old place there -- and neither did some of the help, at least initially. It must be tough swabbing down the aisles at a Lockheed hangar. On your recommendation, however, I will try the one in Venice.

              3 Replies
              1. re: sbritchky
                Dommy Sep 6, 2008 10:17 AM

                With WF's prepared items, you really have to take advantage of their liberal sampling policy. I would not have known the rice pudding was frozen, if it wasn't for sampling it....

                Anyway, you can't really miss on anything in the cold salad bar (I love their Isreali Couscous Salad) and their simple items prepared items like greens (I got a wonderful Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad to go with my pizza). We also really enjoyed their Indian Food, but as always be careful with portion size on these types of dense items... P. got a nice sized plate, and it ended up being almost $10!!

                Anyway, skip their sandwiches and their mexican food.

                --Dommy!

                1. re: Dommy
                  r
                  rere99 Sep 10, 2008 08:13 AM

                  I'm sure their Mexican food is not worth it, but I actually like their sandwiches, when you get them made fresh at the counter and ask for them extra toasted. They have tapenade as a condiment, which makes me very happy. I also like the Indian food, but it's all vegetarian and very heavy on the garbanzos and lentils (in fact 4 out of 5 selections featured garbanzos), which I happen to like, but might not be everyone's bag.

                  1. re: rere99
                    Dommy Sep 10, 2008 09:03 AM

                    Yesterday they had a Chicken Dish in the Indian section that looked VERY good... that is something else I should have noted on my follow up post... there were lots of different items out than the first visit (which of course meant that super yummy Brussel Sprouts dish was no where to be seen... :P)

                    --Dommy!

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