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Jul 25, 2009 01:01 PM

McEwan's - ripped off!

Okay so here's the thing. When it comes to food, both my husband and I enjoy good stuff and we don't mind paying for it. In fact, we'll go out of our way to source new and interesting items. We love shopping at Pusateri's, Summerhill Market, the 5 thieves and of late, McEwans. Yes the prices are high, but I've always felt the produce is of a higher quality, the meats a better cut, and so forth. Until today, that is. I'm not one to routinely price check, but boy did I get a surprise.

We've been buying Mozzerella de Bufolo from McEwan's the last couple of weeks. It really is wonderful stuff but not cheap. It's by Cilento, and they charge $19.99 for a 200g size ball. It's imported from Italy and since I've not seen it widely available we figured the price is fair. But I just came back from an emergency run to Sun Valley and lo and behold, I see the same tub in their fridge. At first I didn't even look at the price, I was just happy to know that it is available so close to home. AND THEN I SAW THE PRICE - $9.99!!

Hey if Mark wants to make his hummos, sandwiches, salads, or whatever else it be, and charge an arm and a leg for it, so be it. It's his stuff, and the only place you can get it is at McEwans, I can live with that. But when he takes products and charges DOUBLE, then what they charge elsewhere, well to me, that is just piggish and a total rip off.

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  1. "But when he takes products and charges DOUBLE, then what they charge elsewhere, well to me, that is just piggish and a total rip off."
    This may very well be the case but on the other hand it may be a reflection of his overhead (especially rent for the enormous square footage). This takes me back to my initial speculation (before he opened) as to whether his current location is really sustainable. Are there enough people willing to pay a very high premium for quality stuff in a very pretty store from a celebrated top chef? Time will tell.

    1. Oofah! Sorry to hear that, millygirl.

      If this is the same stuff I'm thinking of, we usually buy it at Alex Farms or Chris' Cheesemongers at St Lawrence. And it's $9.99 there, if I'm not mistaken.

      1. Wow, thanks for the warning millygirl. I was actually wondering if McEwan has burrata but with his apparent mark ups I think I'll just keep getting it at the Cheese Boutique, even if he does carry it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ms. clicquot

          This is no surprise, this is the reason that I have avoided this place. I enjoy good food, but paying a premium doesn't make it better. I too buy my Bufala at other locations and will not pay over $10 for this size. I believe that good food is in the preparation as well as fresh ingredients. McKewan gets his Bufala at the same place that everyone else does. Paying $9.99 for a takeout sandwich???

        2. Six weeks ago, I bought this same Italian bufala , 200 grams, for $9.99 at No Frills, Runnymede and Bloor.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Dean Tudor

            See? One does not have to shop at the fancy shmancy places like Pusateris or those other places to get the highest quality! I've seen that cheese at Fortinos. I can get organic meats, Fred's bread, fresh fish, local produce ( Ontario strawberries for $2.99) and much more, at Fortino's without the big mark up that I am sure is paying for the lovely surroundings or lovely neighbourhoods these upscale food shops are located in

            1. re: froglegs

              True with some items, but I found it interesting that No Frills' price for this cheese is exactly the same as Sun Valley, Alex Farms, and Chris' Cheesemongers.

          2. I have not posted previously on McEwan's. I figure he deserves some time to get things running smoothly. However, I have been there several times to look around. To date, I haven't been tempted to buy anything. But I need to post something about this.

            I found the fish selection gorgeous, but the prices were beyond ridiculous. $25/lb (no, they weren't swimming) for striped bass? If Diana's is the supplier, Diana's a few minutes away.

            The meat didn't look as uniformly great as the fish, but much of it was quite nice and the man at the meat counter was extremely personable. The prices were, again, out of sight. The Wagyu was less marbled than the prime, which seemed curious.

            The only distinction of the produce counter was its prices. Mexican avocados (not organic) for twice the price of similarly sized Mexican avocados elsewhere is one example. Nothing looked better (or worse) than anywhere else.

            So on to the cheese. On my first visit, a group of people was gathered behind the cheese counter. Everyone was listening intently (so intently that getting served would have been impossible) as some guy - it wasn't McEwan - gave them talking points about, and responses to, objections that identical items were cheaper elsewhere.

            The grocery and dairy selection, and prices, were a disappointing joke.

            3 Replies
            1. re: embee

              I just went there for the first time yesterday and have to agree with the negative comments.
              After a while, my wife and I got tired of spotting stuff we buy at the SLM or Sun Valley (or even No Frills!) being sold for anywhere from a 50% to a 100% markup.

              Sure, there are some things that are a bit hard to find elsewhere, but if you're a real foodie, you could probably get hold of 85%-90% of the things in the store for way less than is being charged.

              It looks lovely, sure, but like the old saying has it: "You can't eat atmosphere."

              BTW, had an iced Americano on my way out. YIKES! Bitter, bitter, bitter.

              1. re: embee

                Yes, the fish -- at least some of it -- is from Diana's.

                1. re: embee

                  So what do you think of Pusateri, embee?