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MacEwan: is it worth the drive to Don Mills?

I haven't been yet but I might go if it's worth a visit. Or do they sell products I can find just as easiyl at Whole Foods and Pusateri's?

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Pusateri's
1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

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  1. No. Not unless you're really keen on of of the house brand made products. Everything else can be found in most other places and sometimes even cheaper at a place while Whole Paycheque, I mean Whole Foods. ;-)

    I stole 'Whole Paycheque' from another hound somewhere on the board.

    1. I went once just to check it out and left with almost nothing. I bought a coffee and a treat since I was there. I have not felt the need to go back. Although they did have some interesting produce and had a few different things out for sampling. I did find the prices on most things quite high even compared to Pusateri's and the like.
      From what I understand there is a small skating rink in the Shops at Don Mills complex, so you could make a bit of an outing out of it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cheesymama

        My two visits had me ogling some of the prepared foods and the lovely fish and seafood display, yet I purchased nothing from either of these counters. The prices were staggeringly high for everything. I couldn't resist the cheese counter, though I had to put put on my cheese "blinders" and focus on just one or two cheeses (or risk bankrupting myself over hard-to-find raw milk cheeses and rare types that I haven't seen elsewhere). As pretty as the produce section was, sense won out over impulse, as prices were just outrageous.

        I could spend a long time perusing the aisles and checking out high end items like stocks, sauces and spice blends, but based on the scant few shoppers actually buying these items, I'd be worried about turnover and expiry dates.

        In short, while there were a multitude of items I'd love to savour, I couldn't justify purchasing most of them, particularly not with my uber-frugal husband in tow! It's one thing to pay for convenience, but for us, McEwan isn't even conveniently located. An excursion there feels more like a school field trip than potential shopping, to me.

      2. I think it comes down to a question of shopping experiences rather than ingredients. If you want the experience of going to a high end place which will make more of an effort than chains, it's not bad, but you pay for it. If you want to try the prepared food, there's a large variety available at a significant premium, though less than restaurant prices (his, not less high end places).

        Imagine if Williams-Sonoma ran a food store. That pretty, and that far off the regular price map for things you can find elsewhere at half the price. If you're going to go, have lunch at Linda, a thai place in the same complex with reasonable food done very well in a nice room (same folks as Salad King).

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        Salad King
        340 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M5B1R7, CA

        1. IMO each of the three you mentioned have their strengths and weaknesses. I have shop regularly at all three and currently primarily shop at WF, due to where I now live. Though if I am in the area of each grocery store I do pick up my favourites.

          McEwan's has the best prepared foods and meat counter of the 3, for my tastes, when I feel like splurging on "unhealthy" cuts of meat; ribeyes, rack of lamb, if I'm not at Cumbrae's or Olliffe. My favourites are the simple mushroom, brie and frisee sandwhich, their root vegetable salads and many of their take home pasta's. Apart from Pusateri's beef ribs and WF's wild mushroom strudle, there is not much I order from their respective counters. Also, I almost always purchase a slab of Galler dark chocolate - by far my favourite of anything available in Toronto, that I've tasted. McEwan's organic section is pretty much non existant.

          Whole foods has the best selection of local and organic fruits and vegetables, which comprises most of my diet so for me they are the ideal grocery store. I also purchase almost all of my chicken from them.

          Pusateri's strength, for me, is their dessert counter, their organic section (though not as wide a selection as WF, still good enough) and the freshness of their fruits and veggies.

          All 3 stores have comparable cheese selections though WF and Pusateri's wrap their cheeses in plastic wrap, whereas McEwan's wraps it in wax paper (much preferred!).

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          Cumbrae's
          481 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA

          Pusateri's
          1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

          Olliffe
          1097 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W, CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: Apprentice

            It depends how far you have to drive/TTC. It's a real purdy store with lots of purdy over-priced stuff.
            The cheese meat and seafood counters are outstanding and expensive. I say go for it if it's not too far out of the way.

            1. Maybe just the one time to see it - they do have some interesting products - but there's nothing overly special there - so not really.

              1. I find the prices rather alarming. I went looking for smoked paprika a few weeks ago and got a tin for $5 at Pusateris. It was $12 for the exact same product at McEwans.

                When cheese gets over $100/kg you know something's funny...

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                Pusateri's
                1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                1 Reply
                1. re: hal2010

                  McEwan is great for the area.

                  But, if you live downtown, what's the point of a grueling drive to pick the same items?
                  Parking can be a nightmare in that plaza too.

                2. Personally I would say it is worth going, yeah, not in rush hour traffic, but at some point just to see it and explore, yeah. They also often have free events at the Shops at Don Mills (concerts) so if you combine it with that you likely will enjoy your trip either way. Yeah, keep an eye out for some of the prices, but, if you have shopped at WF and Pusateri's you will have an idea of what some stuff goes for normally..

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                  Pusateri's
                  1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                  1. Love it and go once a week, Yes, it's pricey but they put the love in, and you can get not so available products (Neals Yard, for those of us who have been to the burrough market in London). Recently had a negative experience with their Beef Wellington and emailed them about it, and within days I was emailed back trying to make it up and they did, in spades. Staff around the coffee counter???? not so attentive, everywhere else? Great. Love the cheese/meat guys, pastry ladies, and the cash.
                    Not sure why parking was mentioned as an issue...never had an issue there. And the LC next door is great!!!!!!!
                    H

                    1. Yes. At least once. Especially if money is no object.

                      1. I found ME's to be disappointing. You can find most of their goods elsewhere though it may take a few stops to round everything up. That said, even if I factored in the cost of convenience I couldn't justify the premium they charge.

                        If I was planning to treat myself, for the $$$ I much prefer the five thieves @ Summerhill and would finish w a trip to the wonderful LCBO there. I find the prepared foods at All the Best Fine Foods superior to ME's and, more reasonably priced. Oh, and don't let me forget the baked goods across the street at Petite Thuet.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                          Petite Thuet is another in the class of McEwan's when it comes being able to find similar quality elsewhere for less

                          1. re: syoung

                            syoung, we love PT's pastries and the croissants in particular. The latter being the best we've had outside of Paris. . . even better than those at Bouchon.

                            Please say more about where you shop if you don't mind sharing.

                        2. No, unless you're in the area I would not recommend making the trek all the way over to McEwan's. Anything you can find at this grocery store you can get at Pusateri's or Whole Foods. Also, for meats I would head to the Healthy Butcher or Cumbrae's instead (prices are more reasonable)

                          http://theavidbaker.wordpress.com

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                          The Healthy Butcher
                          565 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

                          Cumbrae's
                          481 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA

                          Pusateri's
                          1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                          1. If you love lamb rib chops, it's worth a visit. I limit my trips strictly to the left side of the store with the specialized items. I look only for items I can't find elsewhere for a better price. Generally, I only walk out with the unparalleled lamb rib chops.

                            15 Replies
                            1. re: Googs

                              Thanks for this Googs. I've been looking for lamb rib chops and could not find anywhere.

                              1. re: millygirl

                                Pardon me, millygirl. To clarify, I purchase lamb ribs and cut them to chops myself. I don't have them do it for me as I wish to cut, coat, and cook as one straight-through process. If anyone can tell me of better lamb ribs in this city, I'd love to hear about them. I've never found them. They're dense, moist, flavourful. You can feel the difference with your fingertips before you can taste it in your mouth.

                                1. re: Googs

                                  Off topic, but I believe McEwan's lamb is from Ontario - which is a lot milder, less gamey than other regions (Australia, NZ, Washington State). He used to sell AUS lamb, but now doesn't. It's all a matter of preference. I prefer a gamey taste to my lamb so my best choice is AUS, but I have purchased pre-marinated lamb from McEwan's when I was in a 'bind" and it was enjoyable.

                                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                      I think it was around $35/$40 for a rack, not cheap. I cooked them medium rare and they were tasty for what I've had of Ontario (e.g. I find Cumbrae's quite mild). Again, I prefer Aus so Costco or any place that sells them is my 1st choice. I'm still waiting to try Colorado/Washington State which Estufarian has noted are his favourite.

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                                      Cumbrae's
                                      481 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA

                                      1. re: Apprentice

                                        Colorado lamb is spectacular-had it while I toured the state last spring. Personally, I prefer Quebec or Ontario lamb over Aussie or New Zealand lamb. Thanks for the price info.

                                  1. re: Googs

                                    Agreed. The left side of the store (cooked foods and raw meat counter) is where we go whenever we're there, more frequently during the summer BBQ season.

                                    1. re: Googs

                                      Lamb rib chops are easy to find at butchers in Greektown, such as Ellas on Pape Ave. What do they cost at McEwans's?

                                      1. re: foodyDudey

                                        Actually now that I think of it, it's lamb ribs that I've been searching for. I wonder if the greek butchers have them? Any idea fooddudey?

                                        1. re: millygirl

                                          I've purchased lamb ribs at Cumbrae's.

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                                          Cumbrae's
                                          481 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA

                                          1. re: millygirl

                                            I have not searched but I mentioned Ellas and I bet they would have them, since they butcher lamb there. They'll pretty much cut it any way you want.

                                          2. re: foodyDudey

                                            You took the words right out of my mouth...

                                            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                              We can get almost anything on Danforth Ave. I don't need to drive to Don Mills and Lawrence and battle the parking to get McEwened, that's the term I coined to describe going to McEwan's and overpaying for items that can be found elsewhere for significantly less. :-)

                                              1. re: foodyDudey

                                                I was shocked-SHOCKED at the prices at McEwan's. I'm all for purchasing luxury food items, but with inflation and food costs rising, it just doesn't make sense to me to pay more than I have to for comparable quality. It just seems like a blatant rip off. But then again, McEwan is catering to the ultra rich.

                                        2. They do have quite a few processed products that I have not seen anywhere else and the store is probably one of the most beautiful and spacious high-end grocery stores in Canada (if not North America). However, yes the prices are quite high, even for the exact same product I can get elsewhere. Every few months, though, I find myself going there just to walk around the store an oogle the products and produce. I rarely buy anything except a coffee and pastry.

                                          I live close to downtown and purchase most of my food (except for fish and any meat that I almost never buy) at The Big Carrot. I find their prices cheaper than Whole Foods for the exact same thing and only head to Whole Foods when I can't get something. And, for anything really italian I head to Lady Yorke on Dufferen south of Lawrence (better prices on the same olive oil than the Big Carrot) or Grande Cheese on Orfus, off Dufferin north of Lawrence.

                                          1. I'm a bit of a supermarket junkie so I say it is worth the trip at least once. I wouldn't plan on buying my week's groceries there but it is a fun place to "window shop" and pick up a treat for your trip back to your regular supermarket.

                                            WON
                                            http://whatsonmyplate.net

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: wontonfm

                                              Despite my earlier, more cynical response wontonfm, I agree w you. This makes for a great little day trip for a food lover or, supermarket junkie.

                                              Well said.

                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                My first instinct was to respond "no" because of the prices but it really is fun to browse. I don't make it a regular destination but if I'm at Shops at Don Mills (which is rare), I'll pop in for a quick spin.

                                                WON

                                            2. Thanks for the input. With all these foodies saying they don't actually buy much there, I wonder how many people do?

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: merlot143

                                                I have not returned since my initial visit to check out mcewans. If I went again, i would buy a loaf of the delightful Boulart olive ciabatta... not easy for me to get from wherever else it's available. However, I did see plenty of people at cash checking out bags of goods.... foodies or not, someone is buying stuff there.

                                                1. re: merlot143

                                                  Also meant to say if you go on a Saturday, unless things have changed, lots of wonderful items to sample! You're invited to taste all kinds of things... different types of good local ontario & quebec and european cheeses, local wine, breads, pastries, etc. It adds to the whole "window shopping" experience that someone mentioned above.

                                                2. I didn't notice anything really unique there and as mentioned they were really expensive. Also I tried some of their prepared food and yea...not worth it at all.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: AngelSanctuary

                                                    As I mentioned before, did you try the Neals yard chesse behind the counter? best in the world. Love the truffle gnoccic and mac and cheese. Agree that the 12.99 rb sanwich is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy over priced like a lot of their fast lunch dises.

                                                  2. Bayview Pusateri's pastry section is much,much better than McEwan's! Both in selection, quality and taste of products!!

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                                                    Pusateri's
                                                    1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                                                    1. Worth a trip only for a look-see but crazy expensive and not worth purchasing anything. Their baked goods section and desserts were a bit disappointment. Couple of interesting prepared food items which are very pretty, tasted pretty good but so outlandishly expensive.

                                                      When I need my higher end food fix I go to Pusateris. Waiting for Whole Foods to come north.

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                                                      Pusateri's
                                                      1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: breezey

                                                        Are you saying that Pusaterie's or Whole Foods is cheaper than McEwan's? I doubt it.
                                                        You're not going to McEwan's for everyday groceries,that's what Nofrills is for.You're going there to purchase harder to find specialty items. I'm not a McEwan fanboy by any means,but I have to admire him for having the balls to go up against Pussaterie's and Whole Foods.
                                                        It's not like you have to drive to the middle of no where. Lawrence& Don Mills is a 15 min drive from downtown.