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New WF in Dedham

SuperFineSugar Sep 2, 2009 10:28 AM

So we checked out the new super-sized Whole Foods in Dedham today, and I have to say, I liked it. They have a shawarma counter, pizza, much bigger salad bar section than I had seen in other places, including an impressive selection of beans and grains. They're doing hot smoked salmon sides in the seafood section, which was very tasty based on the samples they were handing out. (Would even be significantly better if they were doing it with wild-caught salmon, rather than farm-raised Atlantic.) They had a guy doing live fillet demonstrations, which was cool. The fromagerie/charcuterie section had some surprisingly good selections, including Jasper Hill cheeses and meats from La Quercia and Fra mani. Was really happy to see the wine and beer section at this location. The rest is just familiar -- many of the same products. A good dried bin section. Sushi. Bakery. Good meat counter. Plus they threw in some freebies at the end, (I'm guessing because it's opening day) -- pasta, tomato sauce, a large dark chocolate bar, some coffee and a whole foods canvas bag.

Anyone else go?

  1. c
    catsmeow Sep 2, 2009 11:09 AM

    Was it very crowded?

    5 Replies
    1. re: catsmeow
      SuperFineSugar Sep 2, 2009 11:32 AM

      No. Not too crowded. We were there in the morning. Saw a TV crew there filming and tried to dodge them. Lots of WF execs all over the place though. And Lergnom, you are right about that parking lot likely being a problem once all the stores open, but today was fine. The store really is impressive. Does anyone know if that Wegman's is still coming? That would give it some good competition.

      1. re: SuperFineSugar
        c
        catsmeow Sep 2, 2009 11:49 AM

        Wegmans is opening 2 exits down in Westwood. It was suppose to be in 2011 but on their site it now says To Be Determained for an opening date. Construction hasn't started for what is going to be known as Westwood Station.

        1. re: SuperFineSugar
          d
          Desineguy Sep 2, 2009 12:02 PM

          I was the one that ended up being interviewed by NECN outside the store (WF doesn't like bothering customers in the store). Surprised that more people weren't waiting for the doors to open, but no special sales besides current flyer. Didn't get any freebies with my order. Already tried the fresh Severino pumpkin ravioli and beef soft taco for lunch (both very good). Otherwise, as I heard someone say "It feels just like a Whole Foods."

          1. re: Desineguy
            SuperFineSugar Sep 2, 2009 12:27 PM

            Maybe you had to spend a certain amount of cash to get the free stuff. You didn't miss anything. Honest. And yes, it feels like a WF's only bigger, and with better cheese. :)

            1. re: SuperFineSugar
              d
              Desineguy Sep 2, 2009 12:41 PM

              I spent $100! Maybe I should have bought that whole demo fish. As it is, they couldn't figure out how to input the sale price on chicken sausage so I paid $0.99/lb instead of $2.99 (regularly $5.99). ;)

      2. l
        lergnom Sep 2, 2009 11:25 AM

        That mall is going to be a parking nightmare. They have a small area in the courtyard made by the store fronts and that can't handle anywhere near the demand, so you'll be pushed into that parking structure. It also looks like getting in and out on that little street that goes to Costco is going to be a bear, especially at the light because they can't stop Rt 1 traffic for long enough to clear a holiday time queue.

        1. s
          sallyt Sep 3, 2009 06:59 AM

          Thanks for posting - I went last night, and it was INSANE - totally crowded, even at 7:45 pm. I got a free canvas bag, but had to ask for it. The cheese section was amazing, but other than that, it's a WF, just Costco sized.

          I agree with other posters that the parking will be a nightmare - they also neglected to have a place to leave shopping carts - not that fun with a 3 year old on my hip - and when we left, I saw plenty of WF carts littering the parking lot.

          But, I'm pretty happy that there's a WF within 15 minutes of my house (once Rt 1 construction is done...)

          1. y
            YoChief23 Sep 3, 2009 08:23 PM

            We checked it out yesterday evening, total mad house but fun to see it. You could tell a solid portion of the customers had never been in a WF before which was interesting. I would echo what others have said, better cheese section, better eat in/take out food selection etc. and overall just a nicer cleaner design and layout. I worked for Wegmans during my teenage years in Syracuse NY and frequently visit the Buffalo area.....so while WF has raised their game with this new Dedham store (and I am pumped to be so close) I cannot wait to see what the folks from Upstate NY will have in store for their first NE locations, they are always at the forefront of new concepts.

            1. galleygirl Sep 6, 2009 09:31 AM

              I bought some of their In-House Hot-Smoked Salmon yesterday...May be the best of any of the WF's that do it; just melted in my mouth...I ate it all, and did not share a pinch with TC.
              Of course, I did bring him some Speck Americano from LaQuercia, so I hope that made up for it...
              Sushi; only so-so (same company that does about 6 other WF's)
              Burrito Bar tasty..
              Very good bakery; great Three-cheese bread...
              Shwarma Bar had some good-looking salads, but the Taboouli didn't have much flavor, and it was made with Jerusalem couscous (sometimes, improving on the original doesn't make it better)..
              I couldn't buy a bottle of wine, because I had left my ID in the car...
              Solid pizza...

              5 Replies
              1. re: galleygirl
                c
                catsmeow Sep 6, 2009 10:20 AM

                Have you by any chance been to the WF at the Derby St shops? is it bigger than that?

                1. re: catsmeow
                  galleygirl Sep 6, 2009 11:03 AM

                  Way bigger! It's like the size of a Wal-Mart....

                  1. re: galleygirl
                    SuperFineSugar Sep 6, 2009 11:30 AM

                    Galleygirl, do other WF's do the hot-smoked salmon? That was the first time I had seen it, but maybe I just missed it some place else? Did you buy a whole side? Or a portion?

                    1. re: SuperFineSugar
                      galleygirl Sep 6, 2009 01:56 PM

                      I think the Hadley store does it. I know the Framingham one does, where it is REALLY good, and so does the River St Cambridge store, where I don't like it as much, becasue they smoke it in small pieces and it seems dried out to me. Framingham and Dedham do whole sides, and it's really moist that way. Then, they'll cut any size pieces you want. Dedham seems to have just started with only 3 or 4 varieties, but Framingham has about 7 or 8, and will often do smoked varieties other than salmon, if they've got it around...But, that piece I got (1/3 lb.) at Dedham may have been the all time winner. I think they sprinkled it with crack... :)

                  2. re: catsmeow
                    m
                    mkel34 Sep 6, 2009 01:48 PM

                    According to the news it is 70% bigger than any WF in the northeast. It must be huge.

                2. MichaelB Sep 6, 2009 06:15 PM

                  I checked it out saturday afternoon and was pretty impressed. As others have said, it's *huge* but they've designed it to have a pretty smooth flow of foot traffic - it was busy but didn't feel insanely crowded. A few highlights: all their Valrhona chocolate (and cocoa powder) was half-off. Granted, that's from a very high full price, but Manjari at $8/lb. is a pretty good deal. I'm pretty sure that was just for a few days though; it may be over already. The meat counter was very impressive - in addition to the usual WF selections they're carrying fresh grass-fed meat from a farm in Maryland (I forget the name). I spotted blade steaks, flatirons, hangers, rib-eyes (which looked GREAT) and 85/15 ground beef -- all at fairly reasonable prices (for Whole Foods) -- the hangers and flatirons were $8-9/lb. I tried the ground and it made some tasty burgers. In the cheese/cured meat section they had samples of San Daniele prosciutto sliced by hand off the ham, which was a nice touch, as well as tastes of a very good Tomme de Savoie. Finally, no one's mentioned the salt bar!! (Actually salt and pepper bulk bins, but salt bar sounds better.) Gimmicky but really clever - I'm pretty sure I don't want to buy a big bag of Hawaiian pink salt (or Brazilian black salt, etc.) but I'd be psyched to get a small sample of each of those from the bins - they had about 6 kinds of salt and 2 peppers. The staff were super-enthusiastic and friendly - one helped me go on a search for the tea aisle. Overall, I think all the little touches give it an advantage over most of the other WF stores in the area.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: MichaelB
                    SuperFineSugar Sep 7, 2009 06:01 AM

                    I didn't see a "salt bar"?! Where was it?

                    1. re: SuperFineSugar
                      MichaelB Sep 7, 2009 08:49 AM

                      Just to the right of the other bulk bins, in the same general area. (They don't actually refer to it as a salt bar.) They have little ziploc bags to use on a counter under the bulk dispensers, and there's a scale so you can see how much you're about to pay for the fancy stuff.

                      1. re: MichaelB
                        galleygirl Sep 7, 2009 05:23 PM

                        Check'em out today...Of course, a lot of them are coarse grinds, so now I have to buy a salt grinder...I'm so behind the times!
                        They also have bulk sea salt for about 69 cents a pound with the bulk flours...

                    2. re: MichaelB
                      galleygirl Sep 7, 2009 06:21 AM

                      Excellent work, MichaelB, I'll look for it! I'm a sucker for Hawaiian red salt...

                    3. PinchOfSalt Sep 7, 2009 09:42 AM

                      Can anyone comment on the selection of loose tea (not tea bags)?

                      I usually shop at the Fresh Pond WF and over the past few years the selection of loose tea has been cut way back. Now there is only a modest selection of Rishi and maybe one or two from The Republic of Tea, plus a few from Taylors of Harrowgate. Rishi and RoT in particular are not my ... you fill in the blank. I don't go much for flavored teas, which mostly those are; instead I look for single estate or varietal/artisan teas. Oh how I miss the selections from In Pursuit of Tea that I used to be able to buy at WF Fresh Pond! Are they available at Dedham?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: PinchOfSalt
                        galleygirl Sep 7, 2009 05:24 PM

                        I haven't checked. I have noticed, about WF in general, is that they seem to be concentrating on their Allegro teas, which they own, of course...

                      2. r
                        robertlf Sep 7, 2009 07:01 PM

                        I went tonight. It's an impressive store in that it has pretty much everything the other stores have in one place. Some WF stores have a special feature such as a gelato bar, beer/wine, pizza oven, clothing, books, but some don't etc... I noticed that the Dedham store even has a BULK section for dog biscuits!!!! Alas, no freebies tonight.

                        1. b
                          bostonbroad Sep 8, 2009 08:33 AM

                          Alas, I find myself swimming against the tide. I was really disappointed in this store, which I had hoped to slot in in place of my trek to Brighton. First of all, the parking situation is horrendous if, like me, you do one big shop on the weekend. Since that is somewhat out of their control, I wasn't going to hold it against them.

                          Once inside...I found the Produce section to be the most disappointing part of the store. It's pretty small considering the size of the store and the selection was both not very diverse and, dare I say it, really not up to the quality of most WFs. I was hoping for some of the unusual ingredients that some WFs have - like the Fresh Pond store has an amazing variety of Asian vegetables, for instance, and another has really great Latin American produce. The bulk section, I must admit, was great, and the Cheese section was very good. However, considering the fancy 'Formaggio' cut-to-order room, the variety in there wasn't what I was expecting. I was glad to see the fresh pasta selection that other stores have, however. Decent beer and wine mix. Very good meat selection, comparable to Fresh Pond. Good coffee selection. I was extremely disappointed in the Seafood department. The selection of fresh fish was very limited - I could not get cod other than frozen, no whole fish, and an overall emphasis on frozen products. The Grocery shelves were also disappointing - this may just be opening pains, but lots of empty spaces and several basic items missing or lacking in variety (i.e., only one type of black beans, and no noodles for pad thai - only rice vermicelli). The bakery in terms of bread was also a let down. More stuff in store, less out-sourced artisan, which I grant is not entirely unexpected, but the breadth that I'm used to was simply not there. Finally, and I guess this is my biggest point of departure with everyone - I felt like the store was essentially the Food Court for the mall. Granted, a good food court, but it swallowed the store. I go to WF to shop, not to eat, so I've never been a fan of the company's overall trend towards Prepared Foods. I'm certainly not driving to Dedham and struggling for parking so that I can eat from a WF deli. There were a lot of people there to eat, not shop, which is fine, but it gave the place a weird, Disney World food court vibe. It also wasn't conducive to easy shopping.

                          All else being equal, I will not be making this my new WF. Its great to have in the area if I have other errands in that neck of the woods, but the poor produce and overall hassle contribute to a thumbs down from me.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: bostonbroad
                            SuperFineSugar Sep 8, 2009 11:52 AM

                            When I went, they did have fresh cod. They also had several whole, head-on fish. (I didn't get a chance to ask what kind, but I definitely saw them, back left corner of the fish case.) I didn't bother looking at the frozen section, other than to take a peek to see where the frozen shrimp was from. (Sadly, not American.) Did you see the cheese to the right of the cut-to-order walk-in section? They have more than just the full wheels. I was very pleased to see Jasper Hill cheeses there, among others. Agree with you though that they're beefing up their pre-made selection. I always think it looks better than it actually tastes, but then again, I'm a from-scratch cook, so I'm probably not their target audience.

                            1. re: SuperFineSugar
                              PinchOfSalt Sep 8, 2009 01:16 PM

                              Supermarkets find prepared foods significantly more profitable than items their customers cook at home, even considering the labor and capital expenses they incur.

                              1. re: SuperFineSugar
                                b
                                bostonbroad Sep 8, 2009 01:44 PM

                                I did see the other cheese, but after all the raves I read, I had been expecting something better than some of the other locales - not to beat a dead horse, but Fresh Pond, for instance. I went on Saturday and it was absolutely insane. I'm willing to believe that they don't have a handle on ordering / restocking yet, which could account for the incredibly lackluster seafood selection when I went. I will give it another try or two, but I'm going to wait for them to work out some of the kinks. I, too, am a scratch cook, so while all that prepared food is great for some, it's wasted on me. I used to work for them, so I'm well aware of how much bettter the margins are on those items and that over 10 years ago John Mackey flat out said Prepared foods were there future. I just wasn't ready for the slow morph into Whole Foods - the restaurant. : ) I'm glad this place is around for those who needed it, but I'm lucky to have six others within 20 min. of my house or work.

                              2. re: bostonbroad
                                r
                                robertlf Sep 8, 2009 06:02 PM

                                Parking on Monday (Labor Day) evening was quick and convenient. I got a spot near the entrance and there were many more.

                                As far as produce goes, I saw much of the Asian veggies that Fresh Pond has. In fact, I bought some bitter melon.

                                I think it's an excellent store but too far for me to go on a regular basis.

                              3. hiddenboston Sep 8, 2009 09:01 AM

                                The beer selection at the new Whole Foods completely floored me. This is a place where I could go broke in a hurry.

                                1. j
                                  joschus May 30, 2010 09:45 AM

                                  I happen to live on a small island in the Caribbean where almost all the food comes in by ship. Half the time we get wilty veggies and certainly a huge lack of variety. My first stops when I visit the States are to stores just like Whole Foods as well as great restaurants.

                                  So, when I read the reviews here of people being "disappointed" about the produce at WH, the lack of variety of breads, and so on, I have to laugh. I guess when you live in a place that can have a Whole Foods, it makes some people overly nit-picky. Try coming here for a month and shopping and trying to cook a nice meal!

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