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Sep 16, 2011 12:23 PM

Star Market... a chow destination?

Yesterday I was grocery shopping at the Star Market on Mt. Auburn Street in Cambridge, just over the Watertown/Belmont border, and I noticed a few signs that said something like "Buy local, eat local." They were near bakery items from Spinelli's and challah from Cheryl Ann's. Are other grocery stores doing this? Is this an experiment, or part of a new trend?

Cheryl Anns
1010 W Roxbury Pkwy, Chestnut Hill, MA

280 Bennington St, Boston, MA 02128

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  1. No Stars around my neck of the woods anymore...just Shaw's (ugh) but earlier this year we happened upon an unadvertised item at the Reading Market Basket... Spring dug parsnips from western Massachusetts. Of course we bought them but what a great surprise that was.

    Speaking of Shaw's... they are advertising fresh, wild caught fish both from Alaska and the north Atlantic/Gulf of Maine. That's absolutely fabulous as far as we're concerned.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      Shaw's has just announced a sustainable seafood program which is great. I just wish there was near me.

      1. re: frond

        We got a lovely piece of wild caught Alaskan sockeye salmon last week at the Melrose Shaw's. I'm just hoping that fish on offer on Friday is as fresh as that which is for sale on the first day of the week. The salmon was delicious, just needing the merest pan sear to keep it's beautiful color and flavor. But, I'm really looking forward to Gulf of Maine seafood, especially the northern shrimp that we got from our CSF last year...

        1. re: Gio

          That is good to hear. I absolutely hate the Melrose Shaws. It's a reason not to live in Melrose.

        2. re: frond

          I noticed that there was a lot more labeling, and several certified options when I was buying some fish a week ago. Good for them!

        3. re: Gio

          Market Basket often has MA-grown produce. I've seen collards, kale, and winter squash that were definitely from MA. Given the increased interest in locally-grown produce, I would have thought they'd make a bigger deal of it--I usually don't notice till I get home and take the rubber band or sticker off the produce. Shaw's has MA-grown eggplant, summer squash, and maybe stuff like green beans and corn too, but they usually identify MA-grown stuff with big signs. Both also carry bread from local bakeries.

          1. re: emannths

            In the coming week the Reading MB will have sugar pumpkins, and one other variety that I forget, both advertised as grown in New England...for $0.29/lb.

          2. re: Gio

            Isn't Star and Shaw's the same thing now?

            1. re: Gabatta

              They are.

              Some chains -- MB, for example -- have been doing "local" for awhile without much fanfare. But because the trend right now is just that, it makes sense for them to heavily advertise it. Shaws/Star needs all the help it can get, IMO.

              1. re: Gabatta

                Shaw's bought Star, Shaw's was bought by Albertson's, and Albertson's was bought by Supervalu. Supervalu is a huge conglomerate of food-market chains.

                But generally, I don't like to buy food at Shaw's.

            2. Star Market in Chestnut Hill also sells challah from Cheryl Ann's.

              Cheryl Anns
              1010 W Roxbury Pkwy, Chestnut Hill, MA

              7 Replies
              1. re: CookieLee

                Is Star's/Shaw's the worst supermarket chain in Massachusetts? Southern New England? the North East? the East Coast? the US? the World? Perhaps only Aldi's rivals it?

                And is the Beacon Street Somerville market (across from the R.F. Sullivan burger bar on the Cambridge Somerville line) the worst Star/Shaw market in the chain??

                Shaw's took over a good chain, Star's, and has gradually driven much of it into the ground. A case in point is the Shaw/Star market that used to be on Washington St. in Wellesley. It was bereft of customers. I could set up an entire circus in its lot and there still would be enough space for the few stragglers who showed up at its doors thinking it was a soup kitchen - - the food quality was not much higher. The parking lot was emptier than the stadium of the Montreal Expos after they traded Pedro Martinez. Now Whole Wallet took it over and it is the liveliest spot in Wellesley, admittedly a low bar to beat.

                1. re: VivreManger

                  The advantage of the Beacon Street location being so poor is that there's never anybody in it. You can pop in and out with toilet paper, or paper towels, or some Peet's coffee beans in minutes. There's not much worth buying there, but what there is can be obtained quickly. The parking lot is virtually empty, and you can fortify yourself with a piece of apple-walnut cake from Petsi's next door before you leave.

                  1. re: FoodDabbler

                    That was once Julia Child's local grocery store.

                    1. re: hckybg

                      Which makes it a chow history destination. In fact the fruit and veg selection in that one is a bit of a museum exhibit.

                      1. re: chickendhansak

                        All original. Most don't know that the Smithsonian owns that location as well as her kitchen, both preserved for posterity.

                    2. re: FoodDabbler

                      I agree that the Beacon St. Star is mostly awful, and just a really depressing place in general, but, like FoodDabbler, I do appreciate the lack of crowds. Also, for some reason, they carry Seven Stars Farm organic plain whole milk yogurt, which I have not seen at the Shaw's in Twin Cities Plaza (McGrath/O'Brien hwy), nor at Market Basket (Somerville) nor Johnnie's (Beacon St.) and which is hard to find outside of Whole Foods, so I make frequent yogurt runs to that Star Market.

                    3. re: VivreManger

                      I agree. Seeing Star Market called a chow destination was painful to my eyes. Star/Shaw is easily the worst of the local chains. And consistently more expensive, which is truly baffling. And I think, specifically that location on Mt Auburn is a bad one among them. Still, I've picked up some nicely drinkable cheap wine there.

                  2. Roche Bros and Hannafords both offer locally grown produce. I think I have seen other locally produced items as well -i.e. baked goods, etc.

                    1. I generally dislike Shaw's/Stat, but the two near us: Mt. Auburn and Belmont are not totally terrible.

                      I saw someone order sushi at the Belmont one. She said it was great and fresh. I actually saw him make an eel roll on the spot.. tried it and it was fresh and resto quality. I was shocked, SHOCKED!

                      The meat section is also not that bad and the had lobsters for $5.99 a pound.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        As a curiosity, do you do much supermarket shopping? Do you have a regular place?

                        1. re: FoodDabbler

                          Arax, local farmer's markets, Russos, and I like Market Basket but it's a bit far. Star when I have to (1X a month).

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            Thanks. Our normal rounds are to roughly the same places, although we are regulars at Formaggio Kitchen as well for breads, salami, and cheeses, and I regret to say convenience forces us off and on into money-blackhole foods.

                            Formaggio Kitchen
                            244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                            1. re: FoodDabbler

                              I do Iggy's for bread 2-3X a week. Formaggio is such a gouge, that no matter how much Ilove it, I only do it on special occasions.

                              I will confess to Trader Joe's also for cheeses, breakfast cereals, salamis.

                              Just this Sunday hit Salem foods in Waltham for artisan made (in the Bronx) sopressata for 1/4 the price of Formaggio. Have yet to try it, but it looks spectacular.

                              Trader Joe's
                              1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                        2. re: StriperGuy

                          The sushi at the Packards Corner Star is entirely credible for the price, and the on-duty sushi chef is happy to make rolls on the spot if you ask.

                          Whenever we buy lobster at this Star, the guys working the fish counter routinely give us 1.5 pounders for the sale price that chickens are on, and quite often will throw in an extra one after they've weighed and priced the bag.

                          Plus it's clean and well-lit and large and reasonably well laid out, and the self-check stands work well, and it's one of the only 24-hour supermarkets in the city. So yeah, there are bad Star/Shaws out there, but the good ones are worthwhile.

                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                            i must plead guilty to getting fried chicken there if its fresh.

                          2. re: StriperGuy

                            I have to say that I have been really unhappy with the Belmont Shaw's produce redesign - the same space now has markedly less variety, although it does have HUGE bins of apples of various types. Why I need 5000 apples of each type on display is beyond me, but that seems to be what took up the space that used to have a reasonable variety and quality. At the same time they stopped carrying all the flours that I used regularly (no rye, no bulk cornmeal, no white whole wheat, etc). If it wasn't less than a mile from my house, I would never go back.

                          3. does no one shop at Stop & Shop? :( I like 'em for basic grocery needs.

                            I avoid all Shaws because of the prices ...

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: tammyh

                              I actually prefer Stop and Shop to Shaw's the big ones in Watertown and Allston are not bad, they are just much less convenient for me.

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                stop and shop, waltham, and russo's then depasquales and steamers ( is my standard circut, but i live 2 miles away.

                                  1. re: hyde

                                    That was exactly my Saturday shopping route when i lived in Brighton and I miss it terribly. JP is fun but really much more difficult for food shopping.

                                    1. re: gourmaniac

                                      BUT you have cool things like Tony's in Roslindale and the pita guy in Roslindale and the Syrian market in Roslindale. I don't cry for you Argentina. I know you're doing just fine.

                                      Yes, it's nice to be able to drive from my place to Market Basket and Courthouse and to go to the Farmers market in Union on Saturdays, but there's plenty of grub to be had. We're so very lucky.