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Berkeley Bowl West - The promised land ... west of Eden

Wide aisles, more parking, better selection, a more logical setup, lots of cashiers, beautiful building, same prices

Free cloth bag today until they run out

Berkeley Bowl West
920 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA

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  1. I just returned and agree with everything you wrote. It doesn't seem like there are a ton of new products, just a lot more space and more logical. there were quite a few missing price tags, but that's my only gripe. It's a lovely space, contains produce, flowers, bulk goods, hot and cold prepared food, dry goods, dairy -- everything from the old Berkeley Bowl, just more spread out. Staff seemed very happy and helpful. Everyone seemed excited to be there.

    12 Replies
    1. re: milklady

      I missed out on the free cloth bags. The wide aisles are a big relief, and while the surface parking lot looks heartbreakingly small, the underground garage is about twice as big. The produce section also appears to be twice as spacious, with a big separate organic section. There's a separate cafe across the atrium that isn't completed yet but seems to contain a wood-fired pizza oven.

      1. re: ernie in berkeley

        You must have just missed out, Ernie - I was there just before 1pm and all the stands still had them but the stacks were running low. Got a parking spot in front of the store and there were plenty of underground spots available. As you reported, much wider aisles in the produce area. Doing a brisk business in the prepared foods area ....... When you leave you can drive right out to Ashby from the parking lot instead of winding your way out through Heinz & 6th Streets.

        1. re: gordon wing

          The biggest surprise when I visited around noon - no wall-to-wall crowds! I'm sure it'll be packed tonight, tomorrow night, and all weekend though.

          The new store overall isn't that much bigger than the old, but it's so much better laid out. The produce section is everything everyone has spent the last 10 years wishing the old Bowl's produce section was - very spacious and easy to navigate. Same for the bulk foods aisle, not that I ever use it but it's nice that it's no longer in the way, and the aisles in general.

          I didn't see that much in the way of new products, but maybe some of you who are more observant may have caught stuff I didn't see.

          Overall, I'm already looking forward to going back....

          1. re: Agent 510

            You can imagine what it was like at about 10 am. There were aisles I had all to myself. I pulled up to one of the handful of checkers that had no customers, the others were just one deep. But just for good measure, there were customers here and there that seemed to identify a few potential bottleneck areas and managed to plant themselves there so you had to whistle to catch their attention to get by ... ahhhh ... it made me feel like I really was at the bowl.

            I asked about the cafe and they said they were just waiting the final health dept approval which they hoped would happen today.

            Which reminds me ... for hhc ... one unisex toilet located in the cafe. Extremely handicapped friendly though they could use a coat hanger in there and maybe a changing table since they certainly have room for one.

            As to new products, it is really hard to tell. Nice pictures, Gordon. The olive bar is larger, but it seems it is the same olives with duplicates of some varieties.

            However, one thing I knew was new is the sardine selection. Cole's Portuguese sardines in pirir piri sauce is new as is Cole's itself. Sardine Pollastrini Di Anzio from Italy is new and that is in three varieties. I bought a can of the piccanti all' Olio D'oliva which I'm really jazzed about trying.

            Other things ... may have been there but the new organization is such that I might have never noticed them before. The other store I think has been benefitting from the new store.

            The other store just got in pomegranate molasses a few weeks ago. This store has three brands and also has date molasses which I haven't seen before. Did the old store have Kewpie mayo?

            Oh yeah, the bakery had cannelles from Artisan Bakery, I think.

            A few items to look for today.

            The Kika strawberries are quite tasty ($1.39). They are a better than the larger unmarked containers at the same price. The Buddy Roe raspberries are 89 cents for 6 oz and about as good as any supermarket raspberries. The blueberries are decent too. Skip the blackberries in the non organic section. Not much flavor and a bit tart. Ditto on the 69 cent lb bags of hothouse tomatoes, not too flavorful and the one I tried was mushy.

            Rambutens are lovely and $1.89 lb.

            They have big blocks with mushrooms growing on them.

            There are some large 'late season' navels ... Lake or something like that. They are 79 cents. The are the juiciest oranges I've had this year and much better than those special Andronico oranges.

            They had ... I kid you not ... 9 varietes of fresh salmon.

            It was almost like the first episode of the Goode family where there are about a dozen varieties of something all specifically labelled. There was ... and I did write this down because it amused me ... pen raised, eco-friendly, low density, no growth hormone fresh salmon.

            There were two types of Alaskan king salmon, one wild the other ... well, they said Copper River ($19.99) but the label said Taki River. Whatever it was, it was excellent and beat the Lock Duart salmon I recently had from Tokyo Fish.

            They also had the Lock Duart, another from Cypress Island, plain old Atlantic salmon, Coho salmon from Scotland, Sockeye salmon, Kieta salmon ... and um, maybe one or two more.

            I feel like the BB just grew up. The first place was like your college apartment, cramped with no real parking. The second place was like moving into a better place, a little more parking and room. This is like that final house where you settle in, parking garage and everything you wanted in a home.

            1. re: rworange

              Are you sure about the other store not having pomegranate molasses until so recently? They haven't exactly had brand selection, but I've found it on the shelf there, a couple shelves above the honeys.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                They usually have it but last I checked a few weeks ago they were out. Presumably they have it back in stock by now.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  I might have hit them on a number of visits when they were out ... but then again that aisle is a zoo at the Oregon store.

                2. re: rworange

                  RW, thanks for the tip on the free BB bags - I got a medium size pineapple for $1.59 - Mexican & reasonably ripe - wiil be good for some agua fresca ...... decent Queen Anne cherries also.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Thank you RW for the bathroom mention, I wish more posts did.

                    From website: Berkeley Bowl West is now OPEN! The store hours are the same at both locations. It is located at 920 Heinz Avenue. Please use 9th street at Ashby Avenue.

                    M-Sat 9-8
                    Sun 10-6


                    Note to self: Closest Bart: Ashby. Only 1.41 mi walking.

                    1. re: hhc

                      There's a bus that runs from Bart down Ashby that stops on a corner two blocks from the new bowl.

                      I had dinner tonight with a friend who doesn't drive ... lovely mint lemonade at Zaki's ... and we stopped off at the bowl so he could get his bearings. I'll try to remember to ask him which bus ... or maybe a chowhound knows.

                      So on my SECOND excursion there today ... none of them requiring the usual stiff drink afterward to recover ... I chatted a bit with the guy at the cheese counter.

                      He said they are carrying a much larger cheese selection. He said there is actually an area on the second floor devoted to cheese (staff only). I got a nice slice of Sevre Belle Bucherondin. More in this article

                      It was lovely drizzled with that date molasses ... thinner than pomegrante molasses, but tasty. There was a triple cream goat cheese next to it.

                      They replenished the cloth bag selection. I didn't get greedy and take a second one so other first time shoppers could get one.

                      The Driscoll ORGANIC raspberries are 99 cents and they are much tastier than the conventionally grown 89 cent raspberres . The $1.99 organic strawberries ... skip them.

                      They do have some pastas I know I haven't seen before Picked up a bag of pastificio G. Di Marlino elicoidali. It is a company from Naples.

                      OH !!!! ... Artisan Bakery canneles ... quite good ... as are the macarons.

                      Split one of each and shared them with the friend and he loved them ... though this was his first try of each type of baked good.

                      If they hadn't chilled both, they would have been top notch. The canelle was so wonderfully custardy inside and still a little crunchy outside, though the refrigeration took away most of the crunch. The coffee macaron was tasty. Nice cookie with a little crispness to the cookie and creamy center. Do they sell these elsewhere where they are not chilled?

                      1. re: hhc

                        the website (at least per link here) doesn't yet have the new location info, just the original

            2. Seemed to me that there were at least a few new vendors/sources they're using in both the deli section (did the old Berkeley Bowl carry the Columbus brand salamis?) and especially in the meat section.

              LOVE how much more spread out the produce section is now. In general, I'm pretty much in love with this new space, though I'm sure it won't seem as pristine once the crowds swarm in on the weekend...

              Curious what the cafe section will be like once it's up and running--I noticed that they have a pizza oven in there, which seems promising...

              15 Replies
              1. re: abstractpoet

                The Oregon store has Columbus salami, though it's easy to think they don't have certain brands of sausages etc. there since they have them in three or four different places.

                Does the liquor license application in the window mean they don't have beer and wine or just that they aren't serving it at the cafe yet?

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  It must have went through. There was a beer and wine aisle and I didn't see a sign on the cafe. I don't remember a brand, but I saw an English Beer I know isn't at the other store.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Do you happen to remember the name of the beer? I am always on the look out for a decent English beer. and I think I have been through most of what is available in this area - so maybe just maybe I might need a trip out to Berkeley?

                    1. re: rob133

                      Probably not. It was just different, not necessarily good. It was in one of those cans like Boddingtoms. Next time I go ... which may not be for a while ... I'll note the name.

                      1. re: rworange

                        John Smith's, Old Speckled Hen, Telley's, Worthington, or Young's Stout?

                          1. re: rworange

                            I didn’t see your note about it being in a can – I was going to say ‘Tanners Jack’ as that is something you don’t see very often (but it is a bottle). Beige can…maybe the Speckled Hen at a guess?

                            Anyway we decided to stop by Sunday afternoon. My previous experience with Berkeley Bowl was very short lived – I walked in the original a couple of years ago got as far as three yards down the first aisle and turned around and left thinking I would never set foot in the place again. A different experience at the new location altogether. If it wasn’t so far away I would be shopping for fruit and veg most days I think.

                            Thought the beer section was going to be a little more impressive, nothing wrong with it but I was hoping for a larger selection and a couple of more unusual items. Not sure I saw anything other than a couple of beers I can’t pick up elsewhere. And the one beer I actually wanted somehow didn’t end up being rung up at the register. I know the bagger wandered off with the bottle and then I guess I lost track of it and didn’t notice it was ‘missing’ until we got home. No charge on the receipt so I guess it was something not in the system; they could have told us that instead of simply taking the beer and not saying a word.

                            So the Mackeson XXX I was hoping to enjoy last night was not to be – so I only got to enjoy the Koshihikari Echigo and I’m not really sure enjoy is quite the right word!

                            Still I was impressed with the store, never really got passed the beer and produce, but my wife had little difficulty picking out a number of items from the shelves.

                        1. re: rworange

                          The beer in the tan can was Wexford Irish Cream Ale. I've just never noticed this before.

                          They seemed to have an expanded selection of hard ciders. In addition to Wyders which everyone carries they had Blackthorne, organic Samual Smith, Aspall (blush and English draft),Eric Bordelet (sydre brut, poire, sydre doux) Woodchuck (draft and granny smith) and Fox. Maybe I noticed a few of these before, but it just seems like there's more

                          Near the ciders was an interesting soda - Fentiman's Botonically brewed (Seville orange jigger, curiosity cola, ginger beer)

                          The orange caught my eye and after looking it up I think I'll get it next time. From the website it sounds good "each bottle contains more than 30% of pure mandarin juice, enhanced with natural seville orange flavour"
                          Carbonated Water
                          Mandarin Juice (31.3%)
                          Natural Seville Orange Flavour
                          Natural flavours: Speedwell / Juniper extracts

                          1. re: rworange

                            I noticed Fentiman's at Andronico's for $9.99 per 4 pack. Did you notice the price?

                            1. re: wolfe

                              Nuh uh. Will keep that in mind when I buy a bottle. Thanks

                              1. re: wolfe

                                It is $8.29 for a four pack at BB and $2.19 for a single bottle. I liked it, but I don't think it will be to everyone's taste. It is more like a juice than a soda. It is not overly sweet and the ginger and herbs are very background. If I had not read the ingredient list, I would not have guessed they were there. I'll be interested to try the cola and the ginger beer next.

                              2. re: rworange

                                I am pretty sure that they didn't have the Bordelet sydre at the other store, but I could be mistaken.

                                1. re: wally

                                  Maybe they get it off and on at certain times of this year. I was googling to see if I should buy some when I came across this 2005 blog mentioning it was available at the Bowl back then.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    It is good to know that it is available in more than one place. I rather like the poire granit.

                                2. re: rworange

                                  Wexford is not a bad drink, all the nitro cans task a little too similar to be something I seek out too often, but Wexford is where I would go if nitro cans was the only choice available I will say

                      2. Does anyone know if the hours are same as the other Berkeley Bowl?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: chezchristine

                          They are the same as the other BB according to their website.

                        2. Whole Foods with Berkeley Bowl prices - what's not to like!
                          The organic fruit and vegetable section is 4 times larger than the "old" bowl
                          as is the chocolate section! Most other sections are twice as large and many
                          contain a broader selection. I'm finding things I couldn't get at the "old" bowl.
                          Mellow staff - so far. I live three blocks away so parking doesn't concern me,
                          but there is at least five times more parking - they will need it at rush times.
                          18 checkout stations...

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: bobkubik

                            No waiting at the checkstands, still had the free grocery bag today @ 1p.m. Very brightly lit with wide aisles. The cold deli selection seems smaller, but there a still some empty shelves all over the store. Lots of staff at the counters, but no number machine yet, so some confusion as to who was next. Yummy raspberries.

                            1. re: oaktowngirl

                              I popped in to the "Old Bowl" this afternoon at about 2PM and it was mobbed. Lines at the check stands were about ten deep. No parking.
                              Don't these people know the new one is open?!??? Get out of my way!
                              Get off my lawn, you whippersnappers!

                              --- Old codger

                          2. Wow, I was impressed at 3 with a space right in front, free cloth bag and Claussen's pickles $3.18.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: wolfe

                              The first trip. I didn't have time for much exploring, but here goes:

                              (1) It wasn't as big as I expected, but it is plenty big.
                              (2) I didn't need body armor, nor feel stressed, nor did I hit anyone, nor did anyone hit me with a shopping cart, and no one moved my cart.
                              (3) The organic produce is separate. I don't know if I like that. Also, they use different bags for the organics - I took a bunch of what are apparently the "organic" bags for all my produce needs. No biggie as of yet. Clear bags for non-organic, greenish for organic.
                              (4) Parking - the underground lot had plenty of space.
                              (5) I wouldn't want to be there on "opening weekend."
                              (6) Getting in from Ashby to 9th is easy.
                              (7) A free green bag at check-out.
                              (8) No checkout wait
                              (9) Unless I really also want something from Crixa, there's no reason to go "all the way across town" to go to the old hellhole.
                              (10) The cafe is not open. The room is open, so people can eat at the tables. But no one is home.

                              1. re: lmnopm

                                I was amazed to see it was still blissfully uncrowded at 3pm today. I figured this would be the equivalent of last year's CA Academy of Sciences opening, where the place was so totally overwhelmed by crowds that it was basically "unusable" for weeks.

                                They did hand out little maps today detailing how to get in and out, which actually is much needed. If you're going north, you have to take 7th St. since there's no way to get to Ashby eastbound or San Pablo northbound...I finally realized why that traffic light that isn't installed yet (Heinz @ San Pablo) is such a big deal.

                                They do need to put prices on everything. This being the Bay Area, you really don't know if that unmarked bag of pita chips will turn out to be salted with the tears of organic angels and cost $10.

                                1. re: Agent 510

                                  Just another comment about the prices being unmarked. Some of the items I tried to buy today weren't yet in their computer system so I was unable to buy them. It's a nice space and was pretty empty, so now would probably be a good time to go if just checking to store out, but anybody doing serious grocery shopping might want to wait a week or two. The checker was very apologetic and said the store "wasn't really open yet."

                                  1. re: potato or yam

                                    That seems really strange to me....why would they display items they aren't prepared to sell? Especially if they're highly perishable, wouldn't their only choice be to throw them out?

                                    1. re: Agent 510

                                      They just haven't caught up. I guess it is better to get started with most of the items marked than letting them all sit there and rot.

                                      Actually the perishables are 99.9% marked. There were some tangerines that were unmarked ... no name, no price. A few of the staff got together and decided sastuma. I was thinking not, but darned if it wasn't when I tried it at home.

                                      With the canned packaged goods it is more like 50% unmarked. One can of sardines I was going to buy wasn't in the register and the checker was going to send someone to check the shelf price and I said it wasn't marked and I'd just buy it on a next visit.

                                      It might be why all those people are running around with clipboards.

                                      I really didn't have a whole lot of problems shopping, so I wouldn't warn anyone away.

                                      1. re: Agent 510

                                        I think it was more a case of things falling through the cracks than intentionally being put out without being entered into their computer system. None of the items that didn't get scanned through were perishable (and I bought a fair amount of perishable items). They may just be putting stuff on the shelves faster than they can get it into the system.

                                        I don't mean to warn people away from shopping there, I can just imagine it being frustrating to be shopping for a specific meal or item and not being able to buy it. Overall it was a really nice experience.

                                        1. re: potato or yam

                                          The Frog Hollow organic apricots (in a plastic pack) were not in the system. The quarts of OJ had grapefruit juice tags on them.

                                          1. re: lmnopm

                                            The local goat cheese feta packages had price labels saying they were gouda and about $20/pound.

                              2. Saturday morning 10am......easy parking in main lot and 113 spaces available in garage. Not many people inside.....eerily empty. Free bags still being handed out.

                                1. I am completely smitten. This store is everything that I like about Berkeley Bowl (lots of things) and none of the things that I hate (also lots of things). It's farther from my house, but I don't care: so big and spacious, with wide aisles, an incredibly roomy and well lit produce section, easy parking, and fast checkouts. What a delightful shopping experience. There were definitely a lot of things that weren't labelled, yet, but it was easy to find everything, and everything that I tried to buy worked at the checkstand, even when there was no label on it yet.

                                  I was there Saturday evening, and there were no crowds at all, though some of the staff said that it was busier earlier that day. The staff was very friendly, and they were still giving out free bags, which was nice.

                                  1. I went by early yesterday afternoon. Underground garage was less than half full. Nice store. No wait for checkout. They couldn't sell me one of the items I had in my basket. The light and protected turn lanes at Ashby make it easy to get in and out.

                                    The cafe's not open yet but people were sitting in there eating. The pending liquor license application is for the cafe.

                                    1. Wow! I would never have gone to the old Bowl on a Sunday), but I went to BB West today and found parking right away.

                                      I just needed a couple of limes and was with my six-year-old so it was a whirlwind tour. It looks fabulous with, as everyone has said, wide aisles and more stuff. I can't say if there was any more selection than the old store or if it was just a larger quantity of what's available at the old Bowl, though. There may have been fewer bulk items, but there was still a fairly empty aisle there, so maybe more bulk goods are planned for that space.

                                      Word is out, though. There were not a lot of people shopping (or maybe the wide aisles just made it seem that way), but I had a pretty long wait at one of the 4 or so 15-items-or-less lines. I did get a cloth bag.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. Heard the store had finally opened so we shopped late yesterday morning and it was not terribly crowded. Outside parking was full but there were 79 stalls were available in the underground car park. I think they should identify an area where people can leave their carts, though. Some people pushed them off to one area, others were leaving them in empty stalls beside them.

                                        DH came along to check things out with me. It was nice to be able to walk side by side down the aisles. Going through checkout was a breeze, walked right up to a cashier. They also gave me a free cloth bag even though I had brought my own.

                                        Went back again this morning and there seemed to be less cars but the store itself appeared busier than the day before, particularly around the deli zone. I presume that people working nearby were picking something up for lunch. Did not see any cloth bags being given out.

                                        Coming from Point Richmond this location is very convenient. It's maybe 20 minutes to the market and I don't have to hassle driving across town through Berkeley.

                                        1. Nice photos on this blog

                                          This line made me chuckle

                                          "On its opening day, the new store was too new to stock any bruised produce. (They should have brought some over from the other store, as a nice gesture. "

                                          1. Anyone feeling sorry they've waited too long and missed getting their free recycled
                                            green-colored polypropylene bowl-logoed bag need not fret. As of this afternoon there
                                            still seems to be a fine supply.

                                            Although the new place is far larger than the old, I couldn't find any one thing in particular
                                            that was there and not available in the old store. It's hard to say if the organic section is
                                            larger because instead of shuffling the organic stuff in with the other produce, it's all in
                                            one place. The meat department has Marin Sky but not Neiman. Maybe there were some
                                            more just-add-water Indian things. I didn't look into the whole-foods-esque body-luv section
                                            in the middle of the store which seems to have expanded a bit from the old shampoo aisle.

                                            The buttons in the garage elevator are labeled "B" and "P". Which is certainly not their fault.
                                            Since there are only two levels, you can push both and the right thing happens.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                              Hmmm. I didn't get a bag yesterday afternoon...

                                              1. re: milklady

                                                Did you by chance bring your own bag? I brought a bag and they filled it, then pulled another bag for the rest of my groceries. I saw green bags at the neighboring checkout stands.

                                                The cafe looked open to me though I didn't stay. There was a giant line at the deli. I had to forego buying one item because while on the shelf, it was not priced there or scanning in their computer system. They were apologetic about it.

                                                I rarely went to the original location for the typical reasons, but I love this new store. It had many delicious items I wanted to bring home. Fellow shoppers were happy and nice, which has not been my experience in the other store.

                                                1. re: annec

                                                  No, I had no bag (it was an impromptu stop). We only had 4 items.

                                              2. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                Oh yeah, I noticed Marin Sun and another brand or two of beef but no Niman.

                                                Maybe the elevator buttons were reversed: B for Bowl and P for parking would make sense. Though I guess they could have been thinking basement and plaza.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  You and I think alike, Robert! Given just those two options, I assumed the "B" was for "Bowl" and the "P" was for "Parking" but no, "B" is for "Basement" and "P" is for ... not basement (if you get confused you can verify what level you're on by looking at the symbol on the elevator door jamb).

                                                  I went in for a quick peek and staggered out more than an hour later suffering from choice overload. I nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to choose some yogurt from the insanely huge variety of choices -- seriously, the yogurt section was at least 15 feet long and four (or maybe five) shelves high. The have Emmi if anyone is looking for it, btw.

                                                  I agree that it's hard to tell if they really have a much bigger selection, or if it's just easier to see the stuff they have because it's not all crammed together. There are still some empty shelves, too. The wine selection is definitely bigger, as is the cheese selection, and the cheese counter is staffed -- the nice young man working it offered to cut me samples of any cheeses that weren't sold as a whole. The meat counter does seem smaller, and cured meat products seemed to be spread around the store somewhat randomly (some in the meat aisle, some in the deli section, and some in other cases near the front). I saw some Niman cured meats (ham, etc.)

                                                  The produce section is the typical Berkeley Bowl excess -- I counted six varieties of apricots (not including some apriums that were marked as apricots).Yellow and white (?) turmeric. California-grown garlic (although the organic garlic was from Argentina). Actually, almost all the produce had the country (or state, if US) of origin on the signs.

                                                  Saturday at 1 p.m. there was plenty of parking and no wait at the checkstands, although the store seemed fairly busy. When I left the checker handed me a flyer with the map and told me to tell my friends they're open, so I guess they're not getting the crowds they expected.

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    This is funny! So, what yogurt did you choose? Emmi?

                                                    Were any of the stone fruits or cherries any good or do we need to wait a while?

                                                    1. re: walker

                                                      Well, see, that's the thing. I'm so used to buying fruit -- especially stone fruit -- at farmers' markets where I can taste before I buy, that I was hesitant to buy any. I did buy one of the six varieties of apricots (Robada), and they're quite good. I ended up buying Wallaby nonfat Barlett pear yogurt, which I like a lot and my local store doesn't stock.

                                                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                      Went there for the first time today and was suitably impressed. Parking was a real breeze in the basement. What a difference from the old joint.

                                                      Picked up the shrimp and peas dish in the deli, pretty good combo. I was told they are going to be doing a lot of experimenting with the hot serve food. Deli meat counter was very slow, new help evidently.

                                                      Really like the organic produce selection here, lots'o'good stuff. Was a little confused when the bulk stand clerk offered to weigh and tag my produce purchases - I guess it might make it faster at the checkstand. No rubber bands were available for the berry clamshells, and no BB red bell pepper pesto - I complained to the deli manager.

                                                      Apparently lots of things still to be ironed out.

                                                      Still, an impressive and beautiful place, and so remarkably calm @ 10:00 this morning. Looking forward to the cafe opening.

                                                      PS The observations about the B and P designations on the elevator buttons are humorous. However, it is a building, and the B (or L for lower, if they used that) makes sense. An M for main might make more sense than P for plaza. Especially because none of us had been there before, and knew nothing of a plaza!

                                                2. Went West this morning to do my regular shopping and I was slightly less enthralled than I was on Sunday.

                                                  The produce being separated into organic and non- turned into a problem. If the organic tomatoes don't look fantastic (and, well, it's June, right?) I like to get the conventional Odoriko tomatoes. So I walked from one section to the next, leaving my cart behind. Someone walked off with my cart (and shopping list!) and it took a while to track it down.

                                                  The conventional tomatoes are so close to refrigerated sections (I'm told the island they are kept on is 52 degrees), they felt too cold to me. The one I sliced into for lunch was fine, though, texturally, so hopefully it's not an issue. On a brighter note, the potatoes seem to be unrefrigerated, unlike most of 'em at BB "East".

                                                  Selection of organic stone fruits was pretty minimal - less than I found last week at the eastern Bowl. A lot of the produce seemed more tired in the West. The red velvet apricots referred to in the Chronicle's Sunday article about the store opening


                                                  were squishily over-ripe. One of the produce dudes was on the phone asking that the conventional bananas be pulled because they were past their prime. I felt like the produce people were much less experienced than at BB East (I recognized one guy from the old store out of the 3 or 4 I talked to). Still, the employees I talked to were really friendly and did their best to be helpful.

                                                  I found some things that they don't have East. Uh, nothing too exciting. Triscuits. Mother's Cookies (Hey, looks like they were bought by Kellog's), but it seems like the selection of fake meats is slimmer pickings than East and the fresh bread department was pretty disappointing. There seemed to be extra room, though, so I'm assuming that there will be a larger bread variety in the future.

                                                  The huge amount of available parking, though, gosh...that's just swell. And it's so much easier to get to than the old Bowl, at least from my point halfway between the two stores.

                                                  I have to admit that I missed all the hub-bub, characters and chatting, though, that the eastern Bowl is so notoriously great and/ or hated for. It kind of felt a little cold and clean cut to me...like shopping at Whole Foods. I suppose that will change when the word gets out more. Meanwhile, my vote is currently undecided.

                                                  Oh, and I brought the bag I got on Sunday and also got another one today. If they have them you get one each time you show up for now.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: MollyGee

                                                    Did they have Odorikos? Those are one of the few items in the produce department that are as good or better as what I get at the farmers' market.

                                                    1. re: MollyGee

                                                      No more cloth bags - just paper and plastic. But the store is still beautiful - the 6 kinds of salmon, the cheese station! Plenty of parking.

                                                    2. So, next one will be in San Francisco?


                                                      1. I finally went to the new BB and I think I like the existing old one better.

                                                        The pluses already mentioned are all there, wide isles, clean, new, organized, very well executed and designed. The exterior is fabulous in my view and the double height ped entry/cover from Heinz is very nice. Clearly thought and effort (and risk) were put in and they pulled it off and deserve lots of credit.

                                                        I'm not sure what it is, maybe I don't know where everything is or spatially things are different. Things are generally lower in the produce section at the new place and you don't see 10 kinds of oranges side-by-side at waist to chest level. I could be wrong and might need to go a few more times but that crazy abundance isn't there, or I'm not use to bending over to look at it.

                                                        Also, the natural lighting in the old place does something. Sounds odd but in the afternoon at the old place with the sun coming it, the produce looks really, really great. Also the bread section didn't seem to be as good, although that could be just me not knowing it.

                                                        Any way, I'm sure I'll get use to the new BB because driving/commute wise it's easier on me, except during rush hour. Going to the old however is fine with me so it's nice to have a choice.

                                                        p.s. given the size, scope and location, my guess is they might develop other stores in the future but that's totally a guess and I could be very wrong but the space really seemed to me to be about growth.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: ML8000

                                                          The problem might be that it looks too much like Whole Foods, or even Safeway. The first time I looked across that huge produce section, my gut reaction was a turn-off ... too clean and shiny and organized.

                                                          I thought the owners were getting up in years and didn't have kids to take over, so I don't know about expansion.

                                                          There are times I miss the original location with the columns decorated with stucco fruit ... grabbing a cart and parking it somewhere in the store because there was little chance of rolling it around the store ... heck,even snagging a cart was no picnic. I can still picture every section of that store and where everything was.

                                                          Still everything is in the new store and more ... be careful what you wish for.

                                                          Maybe the bread selection won't be as good until people learn of the new location. Oranges can sit for a while, but a loaf of bread the next day is a doorstop.

                                                          1. re: ML8000

                                                            The bread section definitely didn't seem to be as good, and I spent a while looking around it. The bulk section also looked smaller, but I didn't investigate it in detail.

                                                          2. Yesterday at 6:30 p.m. in the uncrowded Oregon store, the cashier said it's definitely less busy there overall since BB West opened.

                                                            13 Replies
                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                              When I went to the new store last Saturday at 3pm it wasn't very crowded... such a refreshing change. The only pain I experienced was not everything had prices yet. I grabbed a jar of almond butter only to find out it was $18 at the register. Ouch. No thanks.

                                                              Chef Shosh

                                                              1. re: shoshanad

                                                                Went back to Berkeley Bowl West again today in search of pad thai ingredients and was deeply disappointed they had no palm sugar!! When I asked at customer service I was told they still do not have all the stocked goods that are available at the original location.

                                                                Chef Shosh

                                                                1. re: shoshanad

                                                                  Really? I thought I saw some there today.

                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                    When you were there did you see the Traders Point Creamery yogurt? they go on about using 100% grass-fed whole milk. It was near $7 a bottle so I thought I'd see if anyone else tried it.

                                                                    They also had a jar of White Mountain Bulgarian yogurt for $2.99

                                                                    Seriously, these are either new products or I have been missing quite a lot at the old store.

                                                                    The milk section is huge too.

                                                                    Oh ... digressing slightly ... they had Hagen Daz chocolate covered fleur de sel ice cream bars. Wonder if these will ever show up at GO.

                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                      I've been buying that White Mountain Bulgarian yogurt (made in Texas) from WF.
                                                                      I like that it's in a glass bottle and you don't have to pay a deposit.

                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                        Answering my own question, The Traders Point plain yogurt is good. If someone just gave me a taste and asked me what it was, I would have guessed sour cream. There are five 6 oz servings in the bottle which breaks down to about $1.40 per serving. Somewhere up the line I'll give the berry a try.

                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                          Also available, I believe, at Hopkins Country Cheese.

                                                                2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                  Definitely less busy, though the parking lot's still overcrowded.

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    I talked with someone at the old location on Friday who said that after they opened the new store that both stores felt "less busy". An interesting point of view. I also was at the both stores yesterday (my father wanted to go to the new location and look at it) and it was not that crowded. The old store was still a bit busy at 7 PM last night and the guy in front of me in the check out line forgot to get all of his bulk stuff labelled and it took forever for the checker to figure stuff out.

                                                                    1. re: Brentley

                                                                      I'm loving the fact that I can go on a Saturday morning, breeze in and out and not worry about parking ... or a line at checkout.

                                                                      They do need to put a sign up that there is an underground garage. If I had not read that here,I would have missed it. A few people were jockeying for spaces in the outside lot near the door when they could have just used the garage. Prime time on Saturday, there were still a few spots outside and the underground garage was only 1/4 full. Nice also in that on a hot day when stopping by after a farmers market, it is cooler in the garage ... at least shaded ... and I don't have to worry about my farmers market produce wilting.

                                                                      I'm loving the cheese department more and more. They had over a dozen varieties of Gouda including a goat milk Gouda, vlaskass (with flaxseed), Beemster (lite,XO) Holland parrano, aged Gouda in various stages up to 5 years), etc. I started a discussion on the general board

                                                                      Waiting for Gouda - what's your favorite?

                                                                      Someone was looking for kefir a while back and they seemed to have expanded their selection quite a bit.

                                                                      Has anyone tried Lemonica's frozen pizza dough? I took a look a the frozen ball of dough (wheat and regular) and it has the most wonderful yeasty smell even frozen.

                                                                      How about Montery Farms cryo-vacked artichoke hearts in buffalo, herbal, natural and grilled flavors? I ask because they are on the pricy side. If you've tried these which do you like best ... I'm intrigued by the buffalo flavored ... as like chicken wings ... not bison.

                                                                      So it is fun to look for new things. Not sure if the other store has them, but one thing I didn't care for was the blood orange olives. They sounded better than they tasted.

                                                                      That being said ... they are still in adjustment mode. By this time the shelves should be marked with prices. And ... this is big ... I don't think they have produce handling down ... I am starting to get disappointed in it ... maybe it is the temperature ... maybe it is the lack of traffic. Every single ... and I mean every single ... basket of strawberries was tired looking ... organic, regular ... the one basket I bought that looked fine, I had to toss half.

                                                                      And does the other location spray its produce with water? They need to stop this now. A yellow pepper I bought turned soft by time I bought it home.

                                                                      There is still lots that is good. I'm hoping it is just adjustments. I recommend the tiny Angel apricots ... very sweet for a store variety. The ruby Royal and Helena apricots ... have to wait a bit more for them to ripen.

                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                        The Sevre et Belle Bucherondin (an aged goat cheese) I bought the other day was lovely. And the cheese guy was nice enough to offer to cut a piece in half for me when he saw me digging around to find something smaller.

                                                                        1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                          As the cheese at the original BB is all precut and wrapped, they are always willing to cut a smaller piece if you ask. There is usually someone behind the cheese counter there to do it, but they don't have the selection, expertise, etc. that they've got at the new store.

                                                                        2. re: rworange

                                                                          Ages after your question, but those artichoke hearts are great. The grilled ones are a bit strong to eat on their own, they're better chopped up and worked into other things. As to the price--the quality is good enough I think of them as someone else doing the work to prep artichoke hearts from fresh artichokes, and in those terms they're a steal. I like the natural and buffalo best.

                                                                  2. If you park in the underground lot try to park by the elevator. In the elevator clearly marked - B is for parking garage. P is parking lot.

                                                                    Cafe has 1 unisex bathroom, but sign said 2nd floor has additional bathrooms. Pushed the elevator button - too slow. Walked up the 4 flights of stairs to the 2nd floor - separate bathrooms. Women had 4 stalls & 2 sinks.

                                                                    Huge amount of stuff in the store. I spent a long time in their going to all the aisles, but I think I missed lots of stuff still.

                                                                    Things I got:
                                                                    Yogi Chamomile $4.29

                                                                    Ichigo Daifuku - strawberry like mochi from Japan $5.69 - just ok. Like a mochi w/ marshmallow & fake strawberry jelly.

                                                                    Haig's Spicy hummus from SF, small $2.78

                                                                    Tasty Bites Spinach Daal meal $3.89

                                                                    Red lentil in the bulk bin $1.41 - get a bag, pour what u want, put twisty tie, then go to the Weight Station so they can weigh it & put the price on a label.

                                                                    Sweet Olive Oil Tortas - imported from Seville, Spain. They didn't have the price on the shelf or register, so one guy said $1.89 (inside is 6 round crackers individually wrapped)!! I think I got a bargain. Tasty, crackers w/ lots of olive oil, a bit sweet, w/ anise seed.

                                                                    They have La Biscotteria biscotti from Redwood City - didn't buy them.

                                                                    Genova Delicatessen ravioli - many flavors in the freezer section - didn't buy.

                                                                    Green Berkeley Bowl bags .99c + tax. - didn't buy. They have paper & plastic bags.

                                                                    Credit cards taken.

                                                                    My pics:

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: hhc

                                                                      They also give a 5-cent refund for every bag you save when you bring your own bags. Don't know if this was the policy at the old Berkeley Bowl too.

                                                                      1. re: hhc

                                                                        I notice yesterday that they had indeed labeled the buttons in the elevator -- apparently I and the others who mentioned it on chowhound weren't the only ones confused by the letters.

                                                                        1. re: hhc

                                                                          I was there today and I don't know why I got the urge to get "your" olive oil tortas. Sure enough, no price. They were going to take a guess and charge me $2.50 but somehow I remembered you paid $1.89 -- didn't remember that that was a guess, too. So, they charged me $1.89 -- I haven't tried them yet.

                                                                          The baby lettuces were all wilted; maybe I'll try the old store next time even tho this new one is clean and nice.

                                                                          1. re: walker

                                                                            walker, very cool. Hope they don't put the real price ever! I think it's really higher, I called Cheese Plus in SF to find out how much they are asking for - sold out, someone call them next week ok? I saw them there before. Let us know what you think. I think they are good, just a bit too oily from the olive oil.

                                                                            Anyone try the bulk honey in plastic containers near the bulk stuff? I should have gotten the blackberry one I saw. Where are the bulk honey from anyways?

                                                                            1. re: hhc

                                                                              I get the bulk honeys at the Oregon store all the time. I really like the blackberry - hints of blackberry. I usually use it for making granola. I use to know where they were from but am blanking at the moment.

                                                                              1. re: hhc

                                                                                Uh Oh, I was in Andronico in SF today and saw the olive oil tortas for $7.99!!!

                                                                                I was going to buy my favorite feta, Mt. Vikos but they wanted $20.99 lb for it and BB charges 11.99 lb. I don't see how Andronico will stay in business with their outrageous prices.

                                                                                1. re: walker

                                                                                  They only need half as many customers.

                                                                                2. re: hhc

                                                                                  Today I was at WF on Rhode Island in SF and they had the same Spanish olive oil tortas but were sesame. On sale for $4.99 instead of regular price of $5.99. (What a surprise that WF could be less expensive ($7.99) than Andronico. Anyway, I don't like this sesame flavor plus it seemed stale so I plan to return it. Did you ever discover the "real" price at BB?

                                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                                    I'm answering my own question: I was at BB West today and those tortas were marked $4.29. They had both kinds but I only like the regular olive oil one -- has a slight anise taste. I think what I like the most is the packaging.

                                                                            2. Anyone seeing any price differences between the two stores? The produce looks
                                                                              about the same. I bought a bottle of 2005 Delmas Blanquette de Limoux at the new
                                                                              store for $10.99 and then later the same day was in the old store and noticed it was

                                                                              1. I'm alternating my weekly grocery shopping between old Bowl and West and my vote is right now with the old Bowl. Maybe it's my unfamiliarity and confusion with the new store or West still finding its sea legs...

                                                                                There's still a lot of empty shelves in the shampoo/ soaps/ vitamins/ toiletries area, so this'll change, I'm sure, but there are only about two bar soaps. They don't have bulk unsweetened coconut (found some pre-packaged stuff in the bulk area, but none in the bins). The fresh bread selection is not nearly as extensive as the old Bowl's. Why aren't the canned tomatoes with the pastas and jarred sauces? Arg! Now I'm going to forget the pasta.

                                                                                And the organic/ conventional produce section segregation is even more aggravating each time I go. I can't compare and now I have to walk the organic nectarine back to its neighborhood to go pick out the better looking conventional nectarine. Plus, I can't eyeball all of the various pineapples at once in the conventional section because of the display island dynamics. AND the beans and peas -things you have to fussily pick through- are displayed way below waist level making it really awkward for more than one person to select, say, English peas (or even neighboring legumes) at the same time. And the dairy shelves are way too tall. I could barely reach the heavy whipping cream on tip toes and I had to take what I could reach rather than finding one with a fresher date. Hopefully the coconut cream pie won't suffer unduly.

                                                                                And the staff is going out of their way to be very friendly, but the other shoppers seemed way less friendly than the old Bowl. Maybe its the wide aisles and people want to be undisturbed in their shopping daze, but almost every time I communicated with a fellow shopper, they seemed startled or acted like I was trying to sell them life insurance. It was so bad that when I got back to the car I checked my teeth for foliage and sniffed my armpit (none and fine). Maybe they were from out of town (I've noticed a lot of folks with accents and/or unusual shoes) and maybe where they come from strangers don't chat about the quality of produce or how-do-you-cook-that-farro.

                                                                                The good: so easy to get to and so easy to park. Tons and TONS of sweet baked goods: lots and lots of cakes and cookies. Much wider selection of organic vegetables.

                                                                                14 Replies
                                                                                1. re: MollyGee

                                                                                  By unusual shoes do you mean like penny loafers or wing tips vs Birkenstocks and Crocs?

                                                                                  1. re: wolfe

                                                                                    I was wearing penny loafers*, so no. I don't mean a *type* of shoe I mean a kind of shoe. Like Crocs but with an umlaut.

                                                                                    *I wasn't really wearing penny loafers.

                                                                                  2. re: MollyGee

                                                                                    Another good thing, too, is a much nicer jams and jellies section in the West. Lots and lots of Frog Hollow preserves and jams, for instance.

                                                                                    1. re: MollyGee

                                                                                      Have you tried the refrigerated jams and marmelades in the plastic deli containers across from the organic veggie section and at the end of the aisle next to the olive bar? I'm a little sorry I didn't get the strawberry rhubarb.

                                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                                        Ooooh! No. What other jams do they have, do you remember?

                                                                                        1. re: MollyGee

                                                                                          No. When I saw the strawberry rhubarb, my memory bank erased everything else. There were some marmelades, but I'm not recalling what kind.

                                                                                          1. re: MollyGee

                                                                                            Gave the strawberry rhubarb marmelade a try and it was just ok. There were nice bits of orange peel in there but this was just too sweet for my taste. I didn't get a rhubarb taste in either, just mainly sugary strawberry. However, at $4.95 lb, IMO, they are a better choice than standard jarred jams.

                                                                                            Other flavors they had were mango marmelade, blueberry jam, cherry marmelade, apricot preserves, ollieberry jam, raspberry jam. I was thinking of going with the blueberry or cherry since they seemed to have large pieces of fruit.

                                                                                            That case also carries cookie doughs such as chocolate chip, oatmeal and ginger snap. Anyone tried those?

                                                                                            The two containers of mustard look interesting: a pink smokey garlic and Red Tail Ale. There were whole mustard seeds in both.

                                                                                            There were lots of bags of fresh pasta ... egg noodles, lemon parmesian, buckwheat, spinach ... and even fresh chow mein noodles.

                                                                                            Then there was healthy-looking stuff - fresh lecithin, flax seed meal, almond meal.

                                                                                            I needed to pick up some salmon, and always picked up too many other things. Lots of deals in produce. The little golden tomatoes at 69 cents lb were in top notch condition. Above them were baskets of cherry tomatoes for 39 cents. In the organic section, Frog Hollow Santa Rosa plums were $2.89 which is a good price for FH.

                                                                                            In-shell ginko nuts are back. They had kadota, Adriatic and Mission figs. The living herbs looked interesting.

                                                                                            And then there are always those things that are new to me such as mogua and pretty green lobok daikon. Mogua aka mo qua, fuzzy gourd, fuzzy melon, hairy squash/melon/gourd/cucumber, little winter melon, and tsee gua. Photo and recipe

                                                                                            "Green Daikon: like regular Daikon, but it sometimes comes with a deep purple flesh. The deep purple variety tastes juicier, and sometimes so sweet that the Northern Chinese treat it as a fruit"

                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                              Thanks for reporting back on the jams and jam-related and adjacent products. I made a trip to BB West today to check it out and pick up a few things. They do seem to have a pretty decent selection with some less exciting jams (like just apricot and raspberry- but no strawberry unfortunately) for folks like me who go through lots of jam making p b 'n' j's for the kids. I didn't buy any this time around, though.

                                                                                              I was *so* tempted by those Frog Hollow Santa Rosa's and every box I picked up had one or two overly ripe plums and after checking four boxes I gave up. I wish I had them now, though. It was a good deal even with a few rejects included and I'd imagine we're at the tail end of the Santa Rosa's about now.

                                                                                              1. re: MollyGee

                                                                                                I bought some of the apricot preserves today and I'm not crazy about them -- they have that overly-carmelized quality of over-cooked preserves that masks the brighter fruit flavors. Maybe some of the others are better, though.

                                                                                              2. re: rworange

                                                                                                The non-Asian bagged fresh pastas are Phoenix. They usually have a pretty good selection, although sometimes the stock gets low. That's also where they have the bulk almond paste.

                                                                                            2. re: rworange

                                                                                              I have always wondered about those. The selection seems to vary over time. In the Oregon store, they're in the refrig. case at the end of the bulk aisle near the bulk weighing counter.

                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                Never noticed them in the Oregon store. Even in this store I thought maybe they were some sort of stock and decided to get a closer look. I wonder if they make them themselves ... maybe they do something with the less than perfect fruit they get.

                                                                                                I guess I always associated that refridgerated case at the Oregon store as some sort of healthy stuff and never looked closely.

                                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                                  They're easy to miss there, on the bottom shelf (the case has fresh pasta and Chinese noodles and, yeah, healthy stuff like flax meal and whatnot). They often have a red wine jelly, in addition to the fruit ones.

                                                                                                2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                  There's a sign on the shelf over the bulk jams at BBE that says they all come from Carol Hall, the pepper jelly woman up in Ft Bragg/Mendocino.

                                                                                          2. Based on my visit yesterday, I'd say the Bowl West has finally settled in ... at least 95%

                                                                                            Most important ... the produce yesterday was stellar. No tired produce ... except in the marked down section ... there was a good selection of markdowns too.

                                                                                            Give the Tieton cherries from the Northwest a try. They are beautiful cherries and some of the largest I've ever seen. They have this meaty quality to them. They are not a super sweet or intensly flavored cherry, but for some reason I like them.

                                                                                            The organic Chelan cherries were a good price and good quality. Ditto on these not being super sweet. My vote though goes to the Tieton (nor organic, in the regular section) . All the cherries were in nice condintion.

                                                                                            The have some stellar sea beans ... pretty green and intensely ... intensely ... salty. Here are some Chowhound post on sea beans ... aka samphire, chicken claws, criste marine or pousse-pied (France), glasswort, Marsh Samphire, Meerfenchel (Germany), pickle plant, rock samphire, salicornia, sea pickle.

                                                                                            I'm thinking they would be swell with raw oysters ... or maybe garnishing a clam chowder.

                                                                                            Other things that seemed a step up in quality, white beech mushrooms, red yin choi, on choi.

                                                                                            Two new things I bought and didn't try yet are the snake squash and stunning (and obscenly priced) New Zealand Oca potatoes. The color was a lot brighter and almost bordering on neon than this link

                                                                                            I'm really digging the cheese counter ... and I have to say ... maybe more than the Cheeseboard ... i know, I know ... but still ... it is nice not having to fight the CB crowds, clutching your little number. The staff is knowledgable and generous with the samples. Unlike Whole Foods which has a good selection, the BB cheese seems to be well-cared for.

                                                                                            I got a few of the Gouda's. The Midnight Moon goat Gouda (made in Holland) is just lovely.

                                                                                            I also liked the Gouda with the flax, vlaskaas.

                                                                                            One thing I'm sorry I didn't buy were the Caseificio dell'Alta Langa cheeses: La Tur, Robiola Bosina and Rosso di Langa. They were in tip-top condition yesterday. The Rosso di Langa doesn't seem to get many Google hits. Here's a little more about the cheeses from the Piedmont region

                                                                                            Googling to see just what I'm supposed to do with snake squash, I found this article on the new Bowl. They mention the garage has a digital readout on how many parking spaces are left in the garage ... totally missed that. Also there are bike racks.

                                                                                            Most of the prices are marked and the veggies labeled. Though not completely filled, the shelves for the most part are stocked. Supposedly ... maybe ... the restaurant will open next week.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                              The digital readout is to the right and up as you enter the lot. It is visible from a distance. My problem with the underground lot is the small children that run in front of you when you are making an attempt to enter the lot.

                                                                                              1. re: wally

                                                                                                I made my first visit yesterday. I have to think most shoppers are familiar with the old store, conditioned to grab the first parking they see. Although it was hot and sunny, the above ground lots were full as were the approach streets while the covered parking was only 1/4 full.

                                                                                            2. I still find that the shopping carts are too big for the aisles. Sigh. I recommended to the customer help desk that they get those great double decker hand basket carts that Whole Foods has available. I love those teeny manuverable carts! So if you agree, I encourage you to mention it to the customer service desk when you are there, too.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: kabocha

                                                                                                I'll do so and I really wish Monterey Market would get them; they need them even more than BB.

                                                                                              2. Didn't mention the mango nectarines currently at the market since the one I bought is still ripening and I haven't tried it.

                                                                                                However, while looking up green daikon and moqua, I came across this produce guide which seems like a good reference to use when shopping at the bowl. Nice photos and descriptions of all three items.

                                                                                                1. Things are picking up at the new Bowl. At noon today the sign said the garage was "Full", but there were a couple of spaces left. The cafe seemed to be in soft-opening stage, serving sandwiches and training the prep line--an uncooked pizza was assembled but it wasn't clear that the oven was on. The sandwiches were on cibatta rolls, served in a basket with chips, and there seemed to be table service.

                                                                                                  Lots of free-sample activity on the plaza: artisan bakery, Aidel's sausage, Peet's coffee and organic sorbets in squeeze-tubes. And for some reason someone in a big cow suit, an unenviable job in today's hot weather.

                                                                                                  Inside, short, quickly moving cashier lines, and Washington State cherries at 0.99/lb.

                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: ernie in berkeley

                                                                                                    Yesterday at WBB I was told that today would be the grand opening. I asked what that meant, and they said there were some ads out, and the cafe would be open. That problably explains a bunch of the sample activitiy.

                                                                                                    1. re: milklady

                                                                                                      There was an ad in the Chronicle this morning. For anyone who missed out on the free cloth bags the first week they were open, clip out an ad and bring it to the Bowl tomorrow to receive one.

                                                                                                      1. re: Leadbelly

                                                                                                        I looked for the ad for the free cloth bag but couldn't find it. What page is it on, please?

                                                                                                        1. re: sydthekyd

                                                                                                          It's on the 3rd page of Sunday's Food and Wine section.

                                                                                                          1. re: Glencora

                                                                                                            Thanks for providing the right day--I realized too late that I hadn't even finished reading Monday's paper when I left that comment!

                                                                                                            1. re: Leadbelly

                                                                                                              Yes, thank you both. There is no expiration date on the ad coupon so I'll try it today. It will make a nice little gift for an out of town visitor.

                                                                                                              1. re: sydthekyd

                                                                                                                There was also an ad coupon in the Weds (Jul 15)Chronicle "Datebook" section which now contains a mini " Home & Garden" division -- pg E7 in my copy.

                                                                                                  2. Older daughter says: I *like* the smaller aisles at the old BB. It has more character.

                                                                                                    Younger daughter says: the Japanese desserts selection is much smaller at BB West.

                                                                                                    16 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Prabhakar Ragde

                                                                                                      I sort of agree. I've taken to shopping at BBWest because it's a lot more convenient, but if they were right next door to each other, I think I'd choose BBOriginal. Of course, I was never one of those people who complained incessantly about the parking (I park on the street) or the supposed "attitude" at the BBOriginal. I always enjoyed shopping there, except during the holidays.

                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                        I agree with the character thing and I've never experienced the attitude thing at the old place...but I've been going to BBW because it's easier and faster. My experience at BBW is 1-2 people in line at 6:30-7 p.m. That's less then any store I go to, any type. I also think I figured out why I don't like BBW as much.

                                                                                                        While it's spread out and clean, the separate organics doesn't allow you to quickly compare stuff like oranges or peaches side-by-side. I like seeing some stuff side-by-side because you get a better idea of what's best regardless of organic, no pesticide, etc., and what's a good buy all things considered. The deli section also seems sparse.

                                                                                                        1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                          The separation between the organic produce and regular produce was a horrible decision, and I really hope that they change that at some point.

                                                                                                          1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                            I haven't been to the new BB yet, but was certainly surprised to read here that the organics are in a separate section. A few months ago I heard a talk by Bu Nygrens, one of the founders of SF's Veritable Vegetable, said to be the oldest distributor of organic produce in the country. She said that stores that intermingled, rather than creating an "organic ghetto" (her words!) had higher sales and growth in sales of organic produce. As you describe, customers like the opportunity to do side by side comparisons easily, and organic can be less expensive sometimes or fresher leading to more sales.

                                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                              That makes complete sense. When things are side-by-side and you look at organic and non-organic, often times you think "that looks way better and it's only .xx¢ more per/lb...sure."

                                                                                                              For BB (east) specifically, when I see 12 kinds of peaches side-by-side I think to myself, "I know I'm going to find some good ones somehow" because of the choices. Of course it's also impressive to see that much variety at that quality. Perhaps someone should let BB know what Bu Nygrens said.

                                                                                                              Side note: the deli looks more sparse because a lot of it is in their cafe. The separate cafe at BBW makes a lot of sense...I could see getting lunch there if I worked or was in the area. Not that it's crowded but not having to go into the store helps.

                                                                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                Berkeley's probably not a typical market. A high percentage of people here buy only organic and for them it's easier to have a separate section.

                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                  One big advantage of the separate organic section at BBW is that they don't have to put a coded ink dot on every single piece of organic produce, since they're weighed and priced separately. It's a bit of a drag at the east store to pick up a bunch of nice organic fruits for a salad or tart or something and then have to cut off the mystery poison ink dot from each one before using.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                                                                    See, I actually hate that, it is really irritating to me that you have to get the organic produce weighed and priced separately.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                    Of course I agree with you on both points. Yet Veritable's primary customers are natural food stores in calif so Ms. Nygrens' observations are drawn from a similar target. Also one would think that Berkeley shoppers would be part of the movement to choose local sustainable over USDA "big organic". Presumably "beyond organic" growers who have dropped their certification would not be in the organic section at BB, but who knows. With the ever increasing multitude of growing practices and ways that customers make buying decisions, BB has a challenge to divide them all.

                                                                                                            2. re: Prabhakar Ragde

                                                                                                              Where are the Japanese desserts? I've never noticed them and didn't see any looking around the Japanese section of the Oregon store yesterday.

                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                In the "foreign food" aisle, behind a pillar on the left side of the aisle as you proceed in from the checkouts. We haven't been to the Oregon store this trip, so it's possible they've cut back in general. They used to have mochi, red bean pancakes, things like that. Not a lot, but some.

                                                                                                                1. re: Prabhakar Ragde

                                                                                                                  When the original BB opened the mochi/manju selection was much bigger and included fresh stuff from local (SF?) Japanese bakery. Very perishable and BB probably didn't sell as much as expected. In the "foreign food" aisle as above poster described, separate narrow wood(?) case perpendicular to the main shelving.

                                                                                                                  1. re: MargotB

                                                                                                                    Strictly speaking, the original BB was in the former bowling alley (hence the name) on Shattuck where Any Mountain is now.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                      Oh yeah, forgot! I should have just said BB East.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                        Now that had character... and was a true nightmare at busy times.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                    Also green tea ice cream, frozen mochi ice cream balls, and a few other things in the freezer across the aisle from the regular ice cream freezer. East bowl.

                                                                                                                2. I went by BBW midafternoon on Saturday. The underground garage was almost full, first time I've seen it more than half full. The store was busier than I've seen it and some of the aisles were a bit congested, but they had almost every checkstand open so there was only one person ahead of me in line. Not bad at all.

                                                                                                                  What moron designed the traffic flow in the parking lot and the loading dock layout? What a mess. Even when the place is not busy things get backed up.

                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                    Sunday afternoons, the lot is full. The traffic design for the parking lot is a disaster - I'm waiting for a 3-way head-on collision. Even when the lot is full, the store is manageable, although last Sunday, there were a number of "stupid shoppers," somehow taking up entire aisles, and unwilling to move.

                                                                                                                    1. re: lmnopm

                                                                                                                      Yeah, I was there Sunday night right before closing, and the parking lots were close to full (this isn't that uncommon for late on Sundays, though), but there were a lot more annoying shoppers than usual -- too many people standing around with carts blocking aisles (while talking on their cell phones). On the weekends, I just go straight to the garage; I just wish there were more elevators from the store to the garage, because there's often a long backup of people with their full carts trying to get to their cars.

                                                                                                                      1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                        There's a long backup at all three elevators or only at the one that opens into the store?

                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                          Both of them; there are only actually two elevators that go from the store level to the garage level -- one of those opens both in the store and from the outside. This gets confusing when people go outside to beat the line and then it opens both inside and outside.

                                                                                                                          1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                            Oh, right.

                                                                                                                            One of the three elevators isn't in service?

                                                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                              I think one of them is for employees/transporting carts/etc.

                                                                                                                        2. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                          It's Thanksgiving week -- amateur week for cooks, when people who haven't cooked all year decide they have to cook a huge traditional meal using all the family recipes that they have no idea how to make, let alone shop for. Plus, a lot of people are having guests and need to make sure they're stocked on booze, snacks, etc.

                                                                                                                          1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                            The lot is a joke....you may get a space but it takes forever to inch through there with other cars, slow-moving shoppers, carts, etc. constantly blocking the way.

                                                                                                                            The garage usually works fine, since it's rarely full even during peak times. But I'll often go with hidden option #3 - side street parking - if I can find it. It usually doesn't take much longer to get to the front door from the streets than from the garage, but you get out faster.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Agent 510

                                                                                                                              I never have problems parking at BBW. Last three visits I parked first row in front of the store, all around 6-6:30, including tonight. It was busy and the store isles were getting minor gridlock but the check=out wait was still only one person ahead.

                                                                                                                              I've also been to BBE 3x in the past month and I easily got a parking spot each time around 7 p.m. in the back SW lot. Short lines there as well. I still like BBE (the produce section) much better but BBW is just too easy.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                I regularly swing by BBW after work, the normal non-Thanksgiving situation around 6:00-6:30 is the garage is maybe a quarter full at most, and getting in and out is pretty painless, with the occasional exception of gridlock in the surface lot (caused not by overcrowding but idiotic design).

                                                                                                                      2. BBW will be closed Th 11/26 & Fri 11/27.

                                                                                                                        1. The Cafe got permission to fire up the wood-burning pizza oven. The pies looked like quality artisinal efforts, 8 or 9 inches across, fresh toppings. I didn't try any because I'd just had lunch elsewhere, but while chatting with the cook he sliced off and gave me a hunk of excellent medium rareprime rib that was just off the rotisserie--they use it for French dip sandwiches.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: ernie in berkeley

                                                                                                                            My biggest gripe about the 9th Street Bowl is that the shelves are too high for a normally-sized himan to reach. I have had to ask tall people to help me get milk off the top shelf. This is a pain, since often the people nearby are no taller than I am. I have complained twice at the customer service desk. Haven't seen any change. Seems like something they certainly should have noticed during construction.

                                                                                                                          2. This weekend and last weekend I went to Berkeley Bowl East and BB West, respectively. It seems the tide has turned and now BB West is more crowded...way more crowded.

                                                                                                                            Perhaps it was the Sunday at 4:30-ish crowd but the butcher counter had a 30+ number waiting line. I've never experienced that at the old place. I got my number and came back in 20 minutes. The store was jammed with shopping cart congestion, just like the original BB. It was way more zoo-like then BB East.

                                                                                                                            Might be time to go to the original again. Also but has the produce suffered at BB West? It just doesn't seem as good but I know it might be the odd weather.

                                                                                                                            p.s. besides the additional parking lot across the street it seems BB is opening a wholesale produce business, at least that's what the sign said.

                                                                                                                            Berkeley Bowl
                                                                                                                            2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                              I recently went on a Sunday, about the same time, walked in and walked out because of the huge crowds. When I went on a weekday, same time, the checker said Sunday afternoons and Tuesdays are the most crowded. After heeding his advice, I haven't experienced that frenzy again.