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Balducci's or Fairway?

swurvestar Apr 1, 2011 03:19 AM

Going to be in Stamford and want to do some food shopping.
Which store would you say is better?
I'm also going to stop at Stew's on the way home.

Also, are there any good spice stores in CT? What about a good cash & carry store?

1050 E Putnam Ave, Riverside, CT 06878

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  1. r
    rich51 Apr 1, 2011 03:43 AM

    if you want spices,just up the road from stew leonards is penzeys. i would choose fairway over balducci's any day but i am not a fan of balducci's at all, i find them horribly expensive and just ok for prepped food,as for selection, if it is not at fairway/stew leonards probably can't find it any way

    4 Replies
    1. re: rich51
      JenJeninCT Apr 1, 2011 04:51 AM

      Fairway for sure, they have many of the same products that Balducci's has for much less (plus a whole slew that B's doesn't have). I have not been to Stew's once since Fairway opened. I go to Fairway at least once a week, and used to do Stew's at approx the same interval. I'm not a big fan of Penzey's- although others on this board are- I would def make that stop AFTER Fairway, as their selection is extensive.

      1050 E Putnam Ave, Riverside, CT 06878

      1. re: rich51
        louuuuu Apr 1, 2011 04:59 AM

        FW is a destination drive. Balducci is not.

        1. re: louuuuu
          wreckers00 Dec 27, 2011 06:32 PM

          totally agree.

          Balduccis is the biggest load of overpriced, average prepared food crap. It's outrageously expensive for poor quality food (they do have decent cheeses, chocolates, etc but all can be had at Fairway or Whole Foods for less).

          I stick to Fairway, Whole Foods and local stores. Agree that Penzey's is good, though you might not need to go there

          1. re: wreckers00
            stukin Dec 28, 2011 10:47 AM

            I've found that Trader Joe's has some of the same cheeses that Fairway and Whole Foods have for somewhat less $$$. I bumped into a woman from Greenwich who told me she now goes to Trader Joe's in Darien first because she's tired of feeling ripped off by Whole Foods in Greenwich. She looked as though she could easily afford Whole Foods' prices, but I guess even the very wealthy don't like to be gouged if they can avoid it. Fairway prices nearly all their cheeses by the quarter-pound to avoid the shock effect of showing the price per pound. I guess it's easier to sell a cheese that costs $10 a quarter pound than the same cheese for $40 a pound. It's amazing how small a quarter pound piece of cheese is when you look at it.

      2. jfood Apr 1, 2011 02:26 PM

        Unless you want to buy milk, stay away from stews, real mid-level quality.

        Balduccis has great produce and meats but waaaaay overpriced. I used to go there for fruit at times if i was in the area but that stop a while ago since other places opened nearer with as good quality and less dollars.

        Fairway has very good and good. As I have described the place, I really like the outside and do not even venture into the inside aisles. Enter at produce, very nice organic choices, continue to smoked salmon (yum-yum), lots of olive oils and cheeses, make a right and see if the fish is fresh (has been hot or miss since it opened). The the butcher has some nice choices, wander down for the bagels and bialys (avoid the other baked goods, not to my liking). Grab a popper and put some honey peanut butter on and head up the milk aisle with their organic milk and then lots of egg choices.

        Take a deep breath and enter the cashier queue. Some are good and some are challenged.

        1050 E Putnam Ave, Riverside, CT 06878

        1. s
          SeoulQueen Apr 2, 2011 12:27 AM

          If you are planning a big shop, then Fairways. If you want to pop in for just a few, high end items without the crowds, then go to Balducci's.

          I don't see the point of stopping by Stew's if you are going to Fairways. I think they serve the same purpose. Personally I do most of my shopping at the Whole Foods in Darien but also like to go to Balducci's in Westport as they tend to have excellent fresh fruit (better than the Balducci's in Greenwich).

          1050 E Putnam Ave, Riverside, CT 06878

          1. s
            stukin Dec 25, 2011 11:17 AM

            Balducci's is outrageously expensive!!! Fairway's not cheap, but it's a bargain compared to Balducci's. There's a very little known secret about Stew Leonard's is that their "whole" beef loins are not what they're represented as. They often advertise "Whole" boneless loins, but they open the Cryovac sleeves they come in from the packers and remove the best 2 or 3 steaks from the better end to sell as individual, pre-cut steaks for a lot more money. The easy way to tell if this has been done is to simply look at the package and see if it's still vacuum sealed in Cryovac. If it's in an ordinary plastic bag, they have stolen the best steaks and left the junk. One end of the loin will look great, but in reality, there will only be a very few really good steaks. This is very deceptive and, IMHO, dishonest. Another thing to know is that if you have their butchers trim and cut the meat for you, the trimmings go into a barrel to be ground and mixed in with their regular ground meat, so they're actually selling the same meat twice. If you insist on buying Stew Leonard's "whole" beef loins, get yourself a good knife and cut your own meat. Don't let their butchers do it for you. You'll be amazed at how much meat they trim off with the fat; that's all meat that you're paying for. In the winter, you can put the big pieces of fat in a suet feeder for the birds instead of throwing it in the garbage.
            Penzey's Spices is across the street from Stew's and a hundred yards or so to the east. I love that store! Very friendly service, fantastic selection and fair prices. You'll find items there that you just won't find anywhere else. For example, I went crazy trying to find nigella seeds; Penzey's had them. Smoked Spanish paprika is another hard-to-find item; Penzey's carries it (although I wish they also carried the hot type.)

            1. g
              goodfoodlife Aug 17, 2012 12:47 PM

              From my own eleven years of grocery shopping in lower Fairfield County (Greenwich to Westport), I have to say that I have come to prefer Fairway for the variety and quality of their selections. I still like Balducci's and Whole Foods for some items, but I am shopping more and more at Fairway simply because I can get pretty much everything in one convenient location. My personal favorites at Fairway: great assortment of their own store roasted coffees, excellent fresh fish, hand cut lachs, great selection of organics, wonderful olive oils, excellent roasted Kosher chickens, huge selection of cheeses, ditto fruits and veggies and generally great selection of items for planning a dinner party. Do check expiration dates, that's something you have to be diligent about at any grocery store, no matter how good the establishment.

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