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McEwan vs Pusateri's

Googs Aug 8, 2011 06:09 AM

I had cause to go to Pusateri's mothership last weekend at Avenue Rd & Lawrence. Oh how things have changed since it was once just a very nice store in a good neighbourhood. Now it's so chock-a-block you can barely navigate. I have to say I find that the case in all 3 locations, though Bayview Village isn't quite as bad.

Of the 3 items I picked up, one was grossly overpriced (and I found out that they price by store location eeeyuck), one was good but didn't knock me out, and what's with the desserts people? I could have made better myself and I'm terrible with pastry.

Overall, I'd say that if I need to SnootyShop, the experience at McEwan is far more satisfying. The store is a high end provisioner that doesn't forget it's a grocery store too. Just answer your phone next time people. I only ended up at the other guy because it took 8 calls just to get a person on the line. In that amount of travel time, I quite literally went from your corner to Pusateri's.

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

McEwan
75 The Donway W, Toronto, ON M3C, CA

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  1. prima RE: Googs Aug 8, 2011 06:58 AM

    I've only been to McEwan 2 times, but the prices always seem slightly higher than the prices at Pusateri's BV/Ave Rd or Whole Foods for the items I tend to buy (mostly produce, crackers, cheeses at those kinds of stores). I remember the Stash Tea costing a couple dollars more at McEwan that it cost elsewhere. Haven't compared meat, poultry or fish prices at any of the stores.

    I've found the people working at Pusateri's to be friendly and helpful at the Avenue Rd & BV stores.

    I don't like the cramped layout of the Yorkville store, so I rarely shop there, and would rather walk the 10 minutes west to Whole Foods.

    Loblaw and Metro also vary their prices greatly by location. When I lived in downtown in the 90s, the Yorkville Ave Loblaw (where the condo at Yonge & Yorkville is now located) charged a lot more (despite its more limited selection), than the Loblaw on Dupont where the LCBO is now located.

    Guess the idea with most grocery stores with more than 1 location is to charge what the neighbourhood market will bear.

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

    2 Replies
    1. re: prima
      t
      tjr RE: prima Aug 8, 2011 08:06 AM

      The Bloor Street Market (Loblaws) in the Manulife appears to charge the same as other Loblaws locations, and I think the flyer items are usually the exact same as in other Loblaws flyers. The selection can be pretty bad though, especially for meat. It is infinitely better than the Metro on Bloor, which is one of the worst grocery shopping places in the city. The Longo's in the opposite direction is okay, but has very little selection. The Sobey's on Yonge is pretty terrible as well. There's a No Frills on Jarvis, I think, but I've never been.

      Thankfully, Cumbrae's, About Cheese and Pusateri's (produce) are a short walk. There's also an Alex Farms in the Manulife (About Cheese is worth the extra 5 minute walk).

      I like Whole Foods. Their produce is mostly pretty good, they have a lot of reasonably-priced specialty items (though you have to be careful), and they have pretty decent seafood. Their meat, however, is not always spectacular, and I prefer to shop at Cumbrae's by a large margin.

      The Yorkville Pusateri's is absolutely jammed and not exactly a fun grocery shopping experience. The aisles are tiny, you have to squeeze by people, the layout is awful, but the staff is friendly. I don't mind trudging through the warrens of some obscure Chinese supermarket, but a place like Pusateri's should probably have a bit better ambiance. When I go, I know what I want; I get in and get out quickly; I don't return for months at a time.

      Most of the store is expensive prepared food that tends to be mediocre, including the pastries. Most of them (at Yorkville, at least) tend to be made by other shops around the city. Unfortunately, the majority of the patisseries around Toronto are, in my opinion, are pretty bad. I don't think I've ever purchased a fruit pie in Toronto that I found to be even remotely decent. Pusateri's is no different (despite sourcing from somewhere like Wanda's, which is awful). There are some good speciality items there, and some appear to be priced okay. Others aren't, especially given that you can get them at a regular grocery store for half the price.

      Given that it's probably the least convenient "supermarket" ever, I can't imagine why anyone would actually choose to shop there unless they had a personal shopper delivering their groceries for them.

      All of these places have a laughable selection of Japanese or Korean (as well as Chinese) products. Luckily, PAT Central and Chinatown are still within walking distance.

      McEwan's is actually a really nice place. The times I've been, I've really enjoyed shopping there. The prices can be exorbitant for items reasonably priced elsewhere, but their selection is quite good and it's a really comfortable atmosphere. Unfortunately, it's too far, I hate driving, the TTC sucks, and I can get basically whatever I'd get at McEwan's through a combination of other stores, including some (eg: Cumbrae's), with much better product.

      If McEwan's was close, I'd definitely never step in Pusateri's (Yorkville) again.

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

      Alex Farm
      1965 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L, CA

      About Cheese
      483 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y 2C6, CA

      1. re: tjr
        b
        Bigtigger RE: tjr Aug 8, 2011 09:05 AM

        The downtown Pusateri's is indeed a fright - but their uptown Avenue Road mother ship location is better organized, yes tight-spaced, but the staff is friendly and well-informed and will TAKE you to a hard-to-find product rather than merely mutter "Aisle 4" as one gets elsewhere...I find their prices much more reasonable than McEwan's, and the selection good overall especially in breads, cheeses and meat. Prepared food items are indeed expensive and of course a matter of taste as well as of budget - eg their brisket hard to beat, their salads mediocre and what passes for sliced roast beef dreadful (Bruno's has the market cornered on this item). Their desserts, again expensive, are at least varied. Not everyone has time or ability to run down to Harbord Bakery or to try to park near (the over-rated) Dufflet so Pusateri's does a favour - for which one pays - in supplying some of their products. Their managers are willing to bring in products if your interest seems serious - eg I noticed they didn't have any of Stewart's diet flavours, but he was happy to order some for me. So, for a high-end place, I think they don't do badly. AND they do not commit the cardinal sin of the otherwise good Summerhill market - defiling lasagne with mushrooms...

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

        Dufflet
        1917 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L, CA

        Harbord Bakery
        115 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

    2. Charles Yu RE: Googs Aug 8, 2011 06:10 PM

      McEwan has a much better selection of Smoked Salmon and deli products! Even smoked Australian Tasmanian Trout and Italian Lardo if you are lucky!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Charles Yu
        v
        Vinnie Vidimangi RE: Charles Yu Aug 10, 2011 09:50 AM

        What is the difference between a Tasmanian trout , a Schuman trout and a local trout?

      2. Googs RE: Googs Aug 8, 2011 06:38 PM

        This may be the best discussion I've ever been lucky enough to be a party to. A very compelling discussion indeed.

        Category-by-category, I believe the goods at McEwan to be from slightly to greatly superior at McEwan.

        I have to say that, despite how well all of these grocers do, I would give just about anything to have St Jamestown Steak & Chops within easy walking distance of my home again. Now there's a provisioner without provisos. You needn't inspect the quality of the wares. Just point and shoot.

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        St James Town Steak & Chops
        516 Parliament St, Toronto, ON M4X, CA

        1. hal2010 RE: Googs Aug 8, 2011 08:23 PM

          I find McEwan's to be ridiculously expensive. When not-so uncommon cheeses hit plus $100/kg, something's not right. I bought a can of smoked paprika for $5.99 at Pusateri's and it was $12.99 at McEwans. Exact same product.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hal2010
            prima RE: hal2010 Aug 11, 2011 12:45 PM

            I purchased my last tin of La Chinata smoked paprika at Ararat for $3.99 (I left the price tag on the tin, and used it yesterday. Probably purchased the tin in the last 2 years or so). Very convenient and reasonably-priced place to shop, if you're already going to be shopping at the Avenue Rd Pusateri's. ;-)

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

            Ararat
            1800 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

          2. s
            Snarf RE: Googs Aug 8, 2011 09:56 PM

            Having a couple of dependants, and not having reached the depends age, I tend to look at places like these on the basis of value first. Both have greatly improved produce selections, though Pusateri's is slightly more reasonable. Nods to McEwen's for selection, though much of it is prepackaged by the suppliers. The meat counter at McEwens is larger, with a larger selection, but I think there is better value at Pusateri's generally.

            In terms of prepared foods, both should have a parrot warning label, as they are truly pirates compared to most. Summerhill, including the former Sherwood outlet, kick their backsides in terms of selection and clearly on price.

            A nice retail experience has a degree of satisfaction, but how we value that 'happy ending' is relative.

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

            1 Reply
            1. re: Snarf
              t
              tjr RE: Snarf Aug 8, 2011 10:57 PM

              Summerhill is pretty good, with the exception of their St Albert cheese curds, packaged two months prior to their appearance :-(

            2. v
              Vinnie Vidimangi RE: Googs Aug 9, 2011 01:24 AM

              These places do not offer fine food, they offer bullshit. Vide, 250 different kinds of olive oil at Pusateri, the cheapest of which is more expensive than any olive oil in any Middle Eastern store; fish without a bone let alone a head. Products worthy of a Sub-Zero fridge! Then there is the insult of havng to pay so much to be conned .These places should be ignored.

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

              14 Replies
              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                g
                graydyn RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 9, 2011 07:08 AM

                OK, so they're clearly not the best place to buy cheese or a whole fish.
                So please tell us, where are you going when you need some fancy pants ingredients? For example, McEwans stocks 4 or 5 kinds of caviar at any given time. Some occasions call for that sort of thing, so if you have a better source please share.

                1. re: graydyn
                  v
                  Vinnie Vidimangi RE: graydyn Aug 9, 2011 07:10 PM

                  I would go to a Polish or Russian delicatessen. There are many.
                  What occaisions require caviar , let alone a selction of caviars? A Romanoff family reunion?

                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                    petek RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 9, 2011 07:15 PM

                    "What occaisions require caviar , let alone a selction of caviars? A Romanoff family reunion?"
                    Ha! Too funny..good one

                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                      e
                      erly RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 9, 2011 09:22 PM

                      have not seen Russian Caviar at any of the Russian Markets.
                      Where have you found it Vinnie??

                      1. re: erly
                        v
                        Vinnie Vidimangi RE: erly Aug 10, 2011 09:46 AM

                        I don't eat fish eggs because they are too hard to shell. Chicken eggs are a big enough pain. My wife, who is English, in the distant past did once make a dessert called fish eggs and glue. It was quite good, from memory, but she has not made it again. Probably because of all the work shelling.
                        So I had to call. I called the biggest Russian and Polish delis that I know . Yummy Market on Dufferin and Starsky's on Dundas in Mississauga. Both confirmed that they carry caviar. They had both black and red. They said that the black was from sturgeon, the red from salmon. I hope that caviar is not an appellation controllee name , like champagne.
                        VVM

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                        Starsky's
                        2040 Dundas St E, Mississauga, ON L4X, CA

                        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                          e
                          erly RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 10, 2011 09:56 AM

                          Unfortunately neither are Russian
                          Been to both.
                          I asked because I can no longer find it anywhere, and personally dislike the tiny bitter Iranian Caviar available here.
                          We are talking Caviar, not Fish Eggs
                          Yes Caviar is Sturgeon eggs.

                          1. re: erly
                            v
                            Vinnie Vidimangi RE: erly Aug 10, 2011 12:01 PM

                            I assume that "neither " refers to the stores not the fish eggs. "Russian" tends to be generic, but to be accurate, Yummy Market may be owned by Ukranians. The Slavic voice on the phone did say Russian, but wasn't sure.

                            The voice at Starsky's says that they carry 15- 20 kinds of caviar and some are Russian. What she means by Russian I don't know. It was enough for me.

                            Gotta get a life !

                            -----
                            Starsky's
                            2040 Dundas St E, Mississauga, ON L4X, CA

                            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                              e
                              erly RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 10, 2011 12:45 PM

                              Thank you for checking Starskys now.
                              When I was there Months ago they did not have the King of Caviars
                              Malassol, from the Black or Caspian Sea.
                              There is only 5% salt, and large eggs.
                              Heaven on a plate.
                              I used to pick them up from the Polish Markets for $35. (large jar).
                              Have even bought half a dozen Jars from a Russian at the Frankfurt Flea Market a couple of years ago.
                              .I have an extra large jar in the Fridge, brought back from Russia some 30 years back, poison now, but good to look at.
                              Prices went crazy, so thus the shortage.
                              but once you have eaten these Gems, the Iranian doesn't do it.
                              Would rather eat the fresh Salmon eggs from Yummy Market.

                              -----
                              Starsky's
                              2040 Dundas St E, Mississauga, ON L4X, CA

                      2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                        Googs RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 10, 2011 05:47 AM

                        HIGH-larious, vvm. I ended up at Pusateri's because I was searching for a flavour of Gelato Fresco not carried at the other supermarkets that have the line. Since it was a dinner party for family and not just for me, I had to make the trip and spend the money.

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                        Gelato Fresco
                        60 Tycos Dr, Toronto, ON M6B, CA

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

                        1. re: Googs
                          s
                          sbug206 RE: Googs Aug 10, 2011 10:57 AM

                          If you're looking for Gelato Fresco. You can buy direct from the factory. Only $5 per pint.

                          -----
                          Gelato Fresco
                          60 Tycos Dr, Toronto, ON M6B, CA

                    2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                      m
                      millygirl RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 9, 2011 07:21 PM

                      If you don't shop at either than why even chime in here? The OP is asking which is your preference not do you shop here.

                      1. re: millygirl
                        v
                        Vinnie Vidimangi RE: millygirl Aug 10, 2011 10:04 AM

                        I have never bought anything from either but I have tried. The last time I tried getting a nice bottle of green olive oil at Pusateri's. They literally had 250 different kinds of olive oil. I didn't know how to choose. I felt like such an ignoramus, a boor (with apologies to Dutch CH'rs). I didn't want to just buy the cheapest botlle, because then I woud have been a Philistine (again apologies). Nor did I want to buy the most expensive bottle. What if it turned out to be rancid and I didn't know it?

                        The experience was intimidating and discouraging.

                        I welcome advice on the subject of olive oil so that if I go again , the next time will be with higher self- esteem..

                        But anyway , I think that my attempts to purchase qualify me to post in this thread.

                        VVM

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

                        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                          foodyDudey RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 10, 2011 11:02 AM

                          Well if you don't want to try and impress your guests with some $150 olive oil pressed by 14 year old virgins (those are very hard to find) just get some Spartan Rolling Hills oil from one of the stores that sells it. It's around $25 for a 1L bottle.http://www.spartanrollinghills.com/

                          1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                            j
                            jamesm RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 10, 2011 06:52 PM

                            I think it qualifies you to post in this thread but being intimidated by the olive oil selection at one store does not qualify you to dismiss both as bullshit and suggest they be ignored.

                      2. a
                        Abbeshay RE: Googs Aug 9, 2011 06:37 AM

                        Pusateri's is what I like to refer to as "reliable", as most of the produce in their store is always consistantly good quality and I don't feel like everyone has "fingered"everything before it gets to me. Rarely or never have I ever encountered the stalls adorned with the pits or stones of some other ignorant customer's attempt to sample the food before they buy it, or someone's thumbnail mark in an apple that I'd like to purchase. For this reason and especially because of the quality of the produce, I endure the cramped space and the people with 3 or more small kids and a stroller and grandma tagging along while they confer loudly with their business associates on their cell. If price is a concern, I suggest that you try more local varieties of items that they sell as they seem comparable to most other stores.

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

                        30 Replies
                        1. re: Abbeshay
                          j
                          juno RE: Abbeshay Aug 9, 2011 10:39 AM

                          Both McEwen and Pusateri's make food shopping a delight - if you can afford them. Even if you can't, it's kinda fun to wander around their premises, if only to scoff at their prices (and inhale the free samples). Simply regard them as art galleries for food. Nicely organized, superbly designed, a wonderful display of color. I lean, not quite regularly, to Pusateri's flagship store at Avenue Rd. and Lawrence, because it's a short drive from my humble lodgings. Some narrow aisles, but the shopping carts are smaller than usual, and easier to manoeuvre. Agreeable, knowledgable staff. What not to buy at Pusateri's: staples, like milk, breakfast cereal and such. Always substantially higher. You go to Pusateri's for items of quality that you can't easily get elsewhere, and you can expect to pay a buck or two more than you thought possible. Wonderful fruits and veggies, but if the prices make you gag, there's a No Frills a few blocks up Avenue Rd. with surprisingly good quality and considerably lower prices - which is what many Pusateri's customers do. Meats are good, but you can possibly do better at Bruno's - though not always - also some blocks up Avenue Rd. Fish prices will make you cringe, but the quality's outstanding, though the selection's limited. Prepared foods: some quite bland, others quite tasty, all enticingly presented by a horde of sales staff. Not all prices are out of sight. Fresh-squeezed orange juice, squeezed right in front of you, is price-competitive. A few other items as well, though the details elude me at the moment. Vinnie V. , above,is correct: most EV olive oils are staggeringly high in price - strictly for the high rollers - but there are a few under $20 a bottle and priced only slightly higher than the major supermarkets. Hardly worth it to drive to the nearest Loblaws, or some obscure ethnic grocer, to save a buck or two. Still, after several visits to McEwen for research purposes, Pusateri's ranks cheaper overall than McEwen - never thought I'd apply the word "cheaper" to Pusateri's. Best thing about Pusateri's, though (and McEwen): rarely, if ever, is there a lineup at the many open cashier stations. Indeed, I can't remember the last time I waited for more than a minute or two for one other customer. Altogether, an exhilarating experience - once again, if you can afford it, and even if you can't, then go for the fresh-squeezed OJ.

                          1. re: juno
                            TorontoJo RE: juno Aug 9, 2011 10:58 AM

                            Perhaps instead of "cheaper", we should use "less exorbitant". :)

                            But I also prefer Pusateri's over McEwan. But I go rarely and only for the very rare specialty item that I can't find at Bruno's. Bruno's is much less flashy and swank, but I find that they carry just about everything I generally need. It's only when Bruno's fails me that I head to Pusateri's.

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

                            1. re: TorontoJo
                              prima RE: TorontoJo Aug 9, 2011 01:14 PM

                              TorontoJo, I've found the BV Pusateri's standard fruit (oranges, apples, pears, grapes, berries, cherries) to be more reasonably priced than the same fruits at Bruno's. I find most items more reasonably priced at Bruno's, but when it comes to fruit, Pusateri's has been usually been competetive, if not cheaper and better looking.

                              I pay around $0.99/lb for ON apples from an orchard in SW ON, and closer to $0.50/pound if I purchase a 5 lb bag. I was surprised to see Bruno's sometimes charging upwards of $1.99/lb for ON apples and ON pears last year. I'll try to remember to start a price check thread once it's apple season.

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

                              1. re: prima
                                TorontoJo RE: prima Aug 9, 2011 01:34 PM

                                That's good to know, thanks, prima! I'm definitely more likely to go to the BV Pusateri's, rather than the original location, as it's both closer and less of a hassle to park. I *hate* the parking lot at Avenue and Lawrence.

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

                                1. re: TorontoJo
                                  prima RE: TorontoJo Aug 9, 2011 01:39 PM

                                  ;-) p.s. the fresh herbs at the BV Pusateri's are usually a competetively priced, higher quality, and North American-grown bunch, unlike the often suspect-looking, South American "fresh" herbs imported by Loblaw.

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

                            2. re: juno
                              prima RE: juno Aug 9, 2011 12:54 PM

                              Agree completely, juno. Pusateri's isn't the place for most people (including this person) to buy their staples.

                              It's interesting to note, on the rare occasions I have needed to buy milk at Bayview Village since Pusateri's opened, Pusateri's has charged less than the Bayview Village Loblaw for skim milk.

                              For milk, I've found the BV Shoppers Drug Mart to be the most economical, followed by Pusateri's, followed by Loblaw.

                              A fair number of staples are cheaper at the Shoppers Drug Mart than both Loblaw and Pusateri's. So, if you have to food staples at Bayview Village, you have a little extra time on your hands, and you're watching your budget, don't forget Shoppers Drug Mart.

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

                              1. re: prima
                                e
                                erly RE: prima Aug 9, 2011 02:00 PM

                                I am pleased to see that there are others who like mcewan as well.
                                I really prefer their Beef and Lamb to Pusateri,
                                The Organic Chicken at mcewan is the one Brand that I don't like
                                Galleria now carry excellent Organic Chicken.
                                Cumbrae is excellent, but now mcewan is closer.
                                I much prefer the Fish counter at mcewan to Pusateri, always smells fresh, and the counter people are so obliging.
                                I can't shuck an Oyster without eating shells, so I pay the extra and have them opened,.
                                They place them on a tray with Ice, and close them back.
                                A special treat.
                                Dianas won't shuck the Oysters.
                                To Vinnie above.
                                I have certainly purchased Whole Fish many times from mcewan, including the occasional Dover Sole.
                                Yes for a crowd I go to Dianas, but for the two of us the Gas isn't worth it.
                                I think mcewan's Grocery selection is excellent as well.
                                Love their selection.
                                I generally prefer Pusateri for Fruits and Vegetables.
                                mcewan's produce is average, and nothing exotic or special, just beautifully presented
                                Pusateri's is open to suggestions
                                mcewan is not
                                My one serious complaint with mcewan is the Bread.
                                Bagels, Rye Bread, etc. always stale.
                                Croissants tasteless.
                                I have mentioned it several times, but nothing has changed.
                                I am not interested in Ace Bakery when I am at a specialty Grocer.
                                The Chiabatta Bread is decent, and if you want it very fresh they pop it frozen in the oven and it is ready in 15 minutes.
                                I don't care for prepared foods at either place, although I have not tried many whatever I have tried I wouldn't want to repeat.
                                Summerhill is better with prepared foods.
                                Re Shoppers Drug Mart
                                They are often cheaper on Milk, Butter, etc.
                                Last week I picked up a Bag of Coffee at Shoppers, and went to mcewan same day and it was the same price $16.99 pound
                                I find mcewen more relaxed with much more open space, and that is one of the pleasures of shopping there.

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

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

                                1. re: erly
                                  justsayn RE: erly Aug 9, 2011 02:37 PM

                                  erly knows what time it is! Cherry pick the things you like, from where you like, hopefully - when you like. And, appreciate.

                                  McEwan and Pusateri and even Whole Foods (especially in Canada) and Cumbrae work hard to produce and offer what they feel is the best and the most exciting for the city.

                                  These stores cost a fortune to run for so many different reasons, but most importantly its in an effort to offer convenience, quality and an enormous, unique selection.

                                  Without them we have nothing.

                                  Three things are certain in life. Death, Taxes and Convenience Surcharge

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

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

                                  1. re: erly
                                    v
                                    Vinnie Vidimangi RE: erly Aug 10, 2011 10:49 AM

                                    Today is Wednesday, a good day for fish. Today's selection of whole fish at Mc"Ewan's is salmon, salmon, and salmon. That's salmon ordinaire, organic and wild. I often I can't manage a whole salmon, the size usually sold is 10 to 12 or 12 to 14 lbs.

                                    I don't buy filleted fish in Toronto from anybody. Both freshness and true to name are issues.

                                    I must say that I prefer McEwan. On his shelves there is a broader selection of real food, stuff that people actually eat, like Jello.

                                    VVM

                                    1. re: erly
                                      syoung RE: erly Aug 10, 2011 04:59 PM

                                      We also prefer our beef from McEwans and Cumbrae, especially during BBQ season. For fish and seafood, we go to a fish place around Bathurst S of Lawence. One thing people haven't mentioned yet is the pastries/cakes at McEwans are pretty bad, especially at the stratospheric prices they charge. Pusateri's cakes are brought in from other bakeries around town and their markups are reasonable. For example, at $18 Rahier cake will run you $20 at Pusateri's. Not bad for the convenience.

                                      1. re: syoung
                                        Googs RE: syoung Aug 10, 2011 06:21 PM

                                        I'm unimpressed with Pusateri's pastry brokerage. I've had better from McEwan.

                                        1. re: syoung
                                          vil RE: syoung Aug 11, 2011 10:46 AM

                                          The Rahier selection is definitely one of the main reasons I go to Pusateri's!

                                          1. re: vil
                                            e
                                            erly RE: vil Aug 11, 2011 10:54 AM

                                            hopefully Mr mcewan will read this.
                                            His Yeast selection is deplorable.
                                            Everything from Harbord Bakery is at least 2 days old.
                                            If mcewan only carried Rahier, or something close I would be there much more often.
                                            As for the Cakes, they are beautiful, a feast for the eyes.
                                            Reminds me of the Pastry Shops in France.
                                            However the one time I purchased a Cake it was at least two days old.
                                            Get rid of your stale Baking!

                                            -----
                                            Rahier
                                            1586 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

                                            Harbord Bakery
                                            115 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

                                            1. re: erly
                                              foodyDudey RE: erly Aug 11, 2011 11:30 AM

                                              WHy don't more people from CH shop at Cheese Boutique? They have great bread and deserts there besides just cheese.

                                              -----
                                              Cheese Boutique
                                              45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

                                              1. re: foodyDudey
                                                jlunar RE: foodyDudey Aug 11, 2011 12:29 PM

                                                I looooove Cheese Boutique. Love.
                                                I also spend ridiculous amounts of money there, but well... that is what it is.

                                                -----
                                                Cheese Boutique
                                                45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

                                                1. re: jlunar
                                                  foodyDudey RE: jlunar Aug 11, 2011 12:37 PM

                                                  I love it also, but it seems to get no love from the others here. Maybe they are onto something better with McEwan's. ?

                                                  1. re: foodyDudey
                                                    jlunar RE: foodyDudey Aug 11, 2011 12:39 PM

                                                    CB is waaay more fun than McEwan's..!

                                                    1. re: foodyDudey
                                                      justsayn RE: foodyDudey Aug 11, 2011 12:40 PM

                                                      CB rocks!! Just limited in comparison and out of the way as far as hitting multiple places. They have GREAT stuff!

                                                    2. re: jlunar
                                                      j
                                                      JennaBean RE: jlunar Sep 6, 2011 11:31 AM

                                                      I feel like if there is a placed called heaven, it would be like the Cheese Boutique and my bed would be in the cheese cave. I love this place and spend way way way too much money at each and every visit.

                                                      -----
                                                      Cheese Boutique
                                                      45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

                                                      1. re: JennaBean
                                                        foodyDudey RE: JennaBean Sep 6, 2011 11:40 AM

                                                        Same with me. When I was there about a week ago we spent a small fortune but the meat we bought was fantastic, and the cheese was great also. I don't find any need to visit the other places mentioned.

                                                        1. re: foodyDudey
                                                          5
                                                          51olives RE: foodyDudey Sep 10, 2011 07:19 AM

                                                          I agree with you all on CB. Great store and great selection. Noticed a couple of past dated items on the shelves on occasion, but that seems to be common in many markets. Just have to keep open eyes. But I think their cheese selection is tops in T.O.

                                                    3. re: foodyDudey
                                                      prima RE: foodyDudey Aug 11, 2011 12:42 PM

                                                      I don't shop at Cheese Boutique because it's not convenient. Most of the bakeries, pastry shops and cheese shops I visit are located within a 15 minute walk of a subway station.

                                                      -----
                                                      Cheese Boutique
                                                      45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

                                                      1. re: prima
                                                        foodyDudey RE: prima Aug 11, 2011 01:18 PM

                                                        CB is within 15 minutes of the Jane subway station if you want to take TTC. And when I go there, I also make a trip to San Remo bakery.

                                                        1. re: foodyDudey
                                                          justsayn RE: foodyDudey Aug 11, 2011 01:20 PM

                                                          Thats a deadly combo fD!!!! : P

                                                          1. re: foodyDudey
                                                            prima RE: foodyDudey Aug 11, 2011 01:21 PM

                                                            Good to know, foodyDudey. I didn't realize CB and San Remo were located so close to Jane station. The Etobicoke part of their addresses have always scared me away. ;-)

                                                            I don't think I've been west of Christie on the Bloor Danforth line in over a year. Might give me a reason to travel west.

                                                            1. re: prima
                                                              foodyDudey RE: prima Aug 11, 2011 01:37 PM

                                                              CG and SRB are not both close to Jane station, CB is about 10 - 15 south if you walk or 2 minutes south by car. San Remo is about a 5 minute drive west of CB, and 2 minutes south. You need a car to hit both. I'l be making the trip out there this Saturday or Sunday.

                                                      2. re: erly
                                                        eller RE: erly Sep 6, 2011 06:12 AM

                                                        The last time I went to MacEwan's store, half of the cheese selection for sale was past its prime.

                                            2. re: Abbeshay
                                              v
                                              Vinnie Vidimangi RE: Abbeshay Aug 12, 2011 08:38 PM

                                              Price isn't a concern, it is quality. And by quality I don't mean grading quality but eating quality.

                                              To quote myself. The more you pay in Toronto, and Pusateri and McEwan charge a whole lot, the more the fruit is like Pamela Lee's boobs- oversized , hard and tasteless.
                                              Pusateri does make an attempt; Mcewan is pefunctory and seemingly for decorators.
                                              VVM

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

                                              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                                                justsayn RE: Vinnie Vidimangi Aug 12, 2011 08:47 PM

                                                I don't get why you know so much about these places which are obviously not for you. Just stop going and get yourself out of the misery!

                                                1. re: justsayn
                                                  j
                                                  jamesm RE: justsayn Aug 12, 2011 10:54 PM

                                                  He said he went once, was scared by the olive oil and left.

                                            3. Charles Yu RE: Googs Aug 11, 2011 05:58 PM

                                              Even with a celebrity chef owning and running the place, I actually find it funny that I spend more trips getting ' hot cooked' food from Pusateri's than McEwan!

                                              McEwan's hot prepared food has no stand-outs whilst the B-B-Q Meatloaf and the Bourbon B-B-Q veal short ribs of Pusater's are amazing!! Love to eat them with the Sauteed Brocollini with roasted almonds.

                                              Pastries and cake selection at Pusateri's are also much better than McEwan's own. The latter, in fact I find to be really mediocre and badly made

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Charles Yu
                                                Googs RE: Charles Yu Aug 12, 2011 04:34 PM

                                                Then explain the Sicilian Lemon Tart I purchased at Pusateri's and served the same day that could have used a jackjammer to cut the crust.

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

                                                1. re: Googs
                                                  Charles Yu RE: Googs Aug 12, 2011 07:24 PM

                                                  First part of my write-up, I was talking about selection/choices not quality of products. Besides, majority of Pusateri's choices are from 3rd party suppliers anyways!
                                                  Ref your Sicilian lemon tart. Was it in-house made or furnished from elsewhere? I have had pretty tough 'shortbread' crusts from quite a few places as well.

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

                                                  1. re: Charles Yu
                                                    justsayn RE: Charles Yu Aug 12, 2011 07:30 PM

                                                    I am a huge dessert person. Because of this, I can now spot a stale dessert a mile away. Desserts or anything else perishable, you can work toward developing a keen eye, nose, touch! Unfortunately the shelf life for perishables on display has a range from super fresh (hopefully) to perfectly fine, to last legs and hopefully never worse. Buyer beware! Develop those senses!!! : )

                                                    1. re: Charles Yu
                                                      Googs RE: Charles Yu Aug 13, 2011 08:24 AM

                                                      This is why I refer to Pusateri's as a Pastry Brokerage. In either case, it shouldn't matter where it's from.

                                                2. l
                                                  lamaranthe RE: Googs Aug 12, 2011 10:41 AM

                                                  Pusateri's is certainly the best, midtown, but you have to be ready to pay, like you would at Whole Foods.It caters to a certain class of citizens. But where else, midtown, would you find that Japanese steak or a piece of ostrich? You have to give that to Pusateri's: they sell quality and fresh produce.

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

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: lamaranthe
                                                    m
                                                    millygirl RE: lamaranthe Sep 6, 2011 05:42 PM

                                                    McEwan's is a joke!! We were in the area yesterday and stopped in to get a few necessary items. Thought we might get some prepared potato salad to go with our dinner last night. They're asking $17 and change for roughly 2 cups of potato salad. Unbelievable!!! That's roughly the cost of 50 pounds of potatoes. What a joke.

                                                    1. re: millygirl
                                                      hal2010 RE: millygirl Sep 6, 2011 07:57 PM

                                                      I find that the prepared foods at both Pusateri's and McEwan often cost more than you'd pay in a restaurant ! Pusateri's isn't quite so expensive. I only paid $8 for about a cup-and-a-half of potato salad there a few weeks ago.

                                                      1. re: millygirl
                                                        Googs RE: millygirl Sep 6, 2011 09:48 PM

                                                        That must be some potato salad. Do they at least give you a compliment on your discerning taste and some sort of potato salad mythology to go with it? LOL Seriously though, no one shops at either of these stores for the bargains.

                                                        1. re: Googs
                                                          m
                                                          millygirl RE: Googs Sep 7, 2011 03:24 AM

                                                          I shop at Summerhill regularly and must admit the prepared foods are not cheap but I am willing to pay for time saving, quality items. I would have no problem with $8 but $17 is just down right insane. McEwan got me once when he was charging $20 for a $10 tub of buffalo mozeralla. I will not be fooled again. Can't stand the place and luckily, they really don't have much to offer anyways. In fact I was surprised at how little they have. Summerhill Bakery is loaded with banana breads, croissants, cookies, pies, muffins, you name it. I couldn't find anything at McEwan save for mini banana breads, loaded with icing - that was it.

                                                          1. re: millygirl
                                                            Googs RE: millygirl Sep 8, 2011 07:00 AM

                                                            The only reason I end up at either store is that one of them carries something not found elsewhere. In the case orginally sited, my sister has a fondness for lemon desserts. Pusateri's carries more Gelato Fresco flavours than any other retailer. I had to shop there. Were it for just me, I wouldn't fuss as much. I find the quality at Highland Farms enough for me. More expensive than the average grocery store, less expensive than these platinum retailers. Works for me.

                                                            -----
                                                            Gelato Fresco
                                                            60 Tycos Dr, Toronto, ON M6B, CA

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

                                                            Highland Farms
                                                            850 Ellesmere Rd, Toronto, ON M1P, CA

                                                            1. re: Googs
                                                              Googs RE: Googs Sep 10, 2011 09:38 AM

                                                              And while I'm here, HEY HIGHLAND FARMS! Would you please start carrying Gelato Fresco? If any retailer should have it, it should definitely be you.

                                                              -----
                                                              Gelato Fresco
                                                              60 Tycos Dr, Toronto, ON M6B, CA

                                                            2. re: millygirl
                                                              h
                                                              Herne RE: millygirl Sep 8, 2011 08:59 PM

                                                              I recall the $10 Buffalo Mozzarella for $20. After several posts here it dropped to $10. No idea where it is today.

                                                              1. re: Herne
                                                                m
                                                                millygirl RE: Herne Sep 9, 2011 03:21 AM

                                                                Herne, yes it did drop down after that! Was it a coincidence or the result of Chow - we'll probably never know.

                                                                But that did it for me. It irked me to no end. And this is from somone that doesn't mind paying $$ - I regularly shop at the 5 Thieves, Pisces, Summerhill. Pusateri's not so much - not close to me and I prefer (as many here will attest) my beloved Summerhill Market

                                                                -----
                                                                Summerhill Market
                                                                446 Summerhill Ave, Toronto, ON M4W, CA

                                                      2. a
                                                        Apprentice RE: Googs Sep 9, 2011 08:00 PM

                                                        Has anyone noticed the service at the Bayview Pusateri's has gone downhill? Two examples:
                                                        1) Pusateri's sells several varieties of smoked salmon - wild caught sokeye, kristapsons pacific, house smoked atlantic, organic atlantic - I asked the folks behind the counter which one had a nice oily texture with great flavor. The girl didn't know, so she asked another gentlemen - he looked at me then said something to her. Her response - they are pretty much the same. I repeated what I wanted and she got frustrated and said they are the same. Firstly Atlantic smoked salmon tends to have an "oilier" texture but I still wanted their opinion. Secondly, why sell 5-6 varieties at varying prices if the all taste the same???

                                                        2) I was looking for my favorite pre-made piri piri sauce so I asked someone and they just said to me if it's not in the BBQ sauce section it's not there. Now this may seem like a normal response but at Pusateri's they would normally walk a customer to the aisle help search and recommend alternatives.

                                                        The store wasn't busy on either of these days. Perhaps I'm being overly critical.

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

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Apprentice
                                                          Charles Yu RE: Apprentice Sep 9, 2011 08:23 PM

                                                          For me, I love Pusateri's 'pre-packed' House smoked Atlantic with a bit of dill/citrus coating. Pretty oily. I find Kristapson's to be the 'driest'! Same with the wild sockeye.
                                                          For really oily Atlantic, nothing beats the ones sold by the fish mongers at St. Lawrence Market!

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

                                                          St. Lawrence Market
                                                          92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

                                                          Kristapsons
                                                          1095 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                                                        2. CocoaChanel RE: Googs Sep 10, 2011 07:47 AM

                                                          I've been to McEwans exactly once and will never go again. I find items there over-priced and if I am going to do a "high end" shop, I actually prefer Whole Foods or Pusateri's. The WF pastries I have tried (mostly cakes) were quite fresh, but I didn;t think to ask from where they are sourced. I have to admit, I am not really a dessert person, though.

                                                          Anyway, the reason I will never set foot into McEwans again was the fellow at the cheese counter. I was at my dentist (who happens to be near McEwans) and popped into the market after having a filling done, so I was a bit frozen. I had a list of cheeses I wanted (was hosting a cocktail party), and I asked for a 150-200gm size of a particular old cheddar. He tried to upsell me to an older (more expensive) cheddar - no problem. He wanted to cut me a small piece to try, when I said don't bother, my mouth is still frozen, he then prodeeded to hold court, and in an exceptionally loud voice so that all the other customers in the area could hear, made with sweeping arm gestures proceeded to verbally deride me with comments like" "You came to McEwans after having a filling done, with a frozen mouth. Who does that, that just is foolish behaviour to come to McEwan's with a frozen mouth."

                                                          Um, yeah. I looked at him square in the eye, held out the hand basket of merchandise I had collected (including the fish I had packaged for me), placed it in the cheese counter, left the basket, turned my heel and walked out the store never to return again. Funny thing, I was actually prepared to purchase the cheddar he wanted me to try, without tasting it. Oops.

                                                          This event just simply adds to my general dislike of anything McEwan

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

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: CocoaChanel
                                                            foodyDudey RE: CocoaChanel Sep 10, 2011 08:31 AM

                                                            Does that mean you don't like McEwan's Scottish Ale?

                                                            Have you tried the Cheese Boutique?

                                                            -----
                                                            Cheese Boutique
                                                            45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

                                                            1. re: foodyDudey
                                                              CocoaChanel RE: foodyDudey Sep 10, 2011 08:37 AM

                                                              lol :) All things associated with the chef. The ale, now we're talking :)

                                                              I love the Cheese Boutique. We loved it on Bloor and we love it on Ripley! It was a staple for us when Mr. Vuitton and I lived in the west end. However, we are now in Leaside, so it's tought to get to. We usually now end up at Alex Farms either at SLM or on Bayview.

                                                              -----
                                                              Cheese Boutique
                                                              45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

                                                              Alex Farm
                                                              377 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K, CA

                                                              1. re: CocoaChanel
                                                                foodyDudey RE: CocoaChanel Sep 10, 2011 09:46 AM

                                                                If you drive to SLM, CB is only another 10 minutes or less by car. It's well worth the drive. I think it takes me 15 minutes or less and I live near Withrow Park.

                                                                1. re: foodyDudey
                                                                  CocoaChanel RE: foodyDudey Sep 10, 2011 07:21 PM

                                                                  Well, we work downtown, so SLM is sort of "in the neighbourhood" :)
                                                                  But you're right re CB

                                                            2. re: CocoaChanel
                                                              Googs RE: CocoaChanel Sep 10, 2011 09:37 AM

                                                              Wow, that's inexcusable behaviour. I like the here's-your-hat approach you took. I woud have reported it to the manager too. Did you?

                                                              1. re: Googs
                                                                CocoaChanel RE: Googs Sep 10, 2011 07:19 PM

                                                                No, I didn't. I was so put off by the behaviour, it actually didn;t occur to me.

                                                              2. re: CocoaChanel
                                                                m
                                                                millygirl RE: CocoaChanel Sep 10, 2011 02:24 PM

                                                                I think I know the guy you speak of. What an Ass.

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