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God I love Highland Farms

grandgourmand Sep 29, 2011 01:54 PM

With all the complaining about Loblaws, Metro, Sobeys, etc...figured it's time to highlight the one grocery store that does it right (at least I think so). I hadn't been in about a year, and left wondering why.

I could go on about what I like, but one thing worth highlighting is the onslaught of fall veg. I've never seen broccoli so green, maybe I don't get out enough. Purple cauliflower (although it looks like broccoli) and big heads of cabbage. All local stuff.

Also the little pantry stock-ups...Lesters steak spics. Tajin mexican tangy seasoning (goes great on corn). Two kinds of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (on sale for $1.99/bottle vs. $3.99 (I think) at Loblaws). Le Puy lentils (not authentic from France, but still delicious). Colombian guava candy.

FYI, was at the Kennedy and Ellesmere location after a trip to the Diana's oyster bar (separate post coming).

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

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  1. Brain of J RE: grandgourmand Sep 29, 2011 02:11 PM

    HF rocks! See my prior post about it in the chain grocery store thread!

    1. h
      Herne RE: grandgourmand Sep 29, 2011 05:17 PM

      Love the Highland Farms store on Highway 10 near the 401. All kinds of brands not to be seen at Loblaws. Lots of feet devoted to European goods. Great fish and deli and probably the longest meat counter I have seen in Canada and with real staff behind it to fill your orders.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Herne
        Kagemusha RE: Herne Sep 30, 2011 05:48 AM

        Great, cavernous space full of nice stuff. Good seasonal local produce that knocks the spots off the area's "farmers" markets. Only real weak spot is the so-so in-house bakery. While Walmart and the loss leaders are worrisome, Loblaws really has something to worry about with HF in Miss.

        1. re: Kagemusha
          Googs RE: Kagemusha Sep 30, 2011 06:17 AM

          The in-house bakery issue is debatable, I like their house made pizzas just fine. Their fruit pies could use a LOT of work. hel-LOOOOO anybody heard of cinnamon?

          The bakery brokerage at the Ellesmere location gathers from local bakeries such as Calabria so good on them for not only supporting local produce, but local business as well. I hope and wish they consider the Montmartre Bakery as a supplier.

          Grandgourmand, you got that combo spot on. Highland Farms and Diana's Seafood paired together will save you a lot of tire tread wear. As an aside, the LCBO on Eglinton just west of Warden isn't too bad if you stick to Vintages and don't mind the total lack of sake. Bon Appetit!

          HEY LCBO, some of us make sushi at home! Yes, in Scarborough!!!

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          Diana's Seafood
          2101 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

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

          Montmartre Bakery
          105 Midwest Rd, Scarborough, ON M1P 3A6, CA

          1. re: Googs
            Kagemusha RE: Googs Sep 30, 2011 01:58 PM

            Mississauga store's baked goods are "meh." Local ethnic bakeries aren't exactly scarce. Dimp's off Kipling isn't that far and is worth the drive. Pizzas don't seem to move very briskly.

            1. re: Kagemusha
              Googs RE: Kagemusha Oct 1, 2011 08:13 AM

              You probably have more good pizza selection out your way than I do. When I'll eat a grocery house-brand you can only imagine how it is here.

              The HF bakery isn't perfect, but it's clear they make an effort to provide quality.

              Just in case they're listening, they would do well to drop Silverstein's in favour of the vastly superior rye breads of Montmartre Bakery.

      2. i
        illy RE: grandgourmand Sep 30, 2011 06:32 AM

        I love that Ellesmere Highland Farms too--the mountains of veggies, all of the Italian products, the delicious feta, etc. etc.
        But when I go, I like to go across the parking lot to that not-so-attractive strip plaza and pick up the most delicious and cheap Sri Lankan at Hopper Hut. Veggie curry for $2.25, Veggie Kotu Roti for about $5, vegetable or mutton rolls for $1 etc. yum!

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        Hopper Hut
        880 Ellesmere Rd, Toronto, ON M1P2W6, CA

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

        7 Replies
        1. re: illy
          k
          kbdid RE: illy Sep 30, 2011 07:10 PM

          I used to live within walking distance of this HF....wonderful groceries and Hopper Hut as a bonus! As a west ender I know miss these places badly, and Fiesta Farms is the closest I've found to HF....

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          Hopper Hut
          880 Ellesmere Rd, Toronto, ON M1P2W6, CA

          Fiesta Farms
          200 Christie St, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

          1. re: illy
            h
            Herne RE: illy Oct 1, 2011 06:27 AM

            The only negative feature about the Ellesmere HF is the parking. The spots are so narrow I have trouble getting out of the car without banging the side of adjacent cars. Probably my preferences but I find driving to the Hurontario location at # 10 preferable . Most supermarkets could learn a lot about parking lots from Costco.

            1. re: Herne
              hal2010 RE: Herne Oct 15, 2011 11:25 AM

              I hiked up to the Ellesmere Highland Farms today and I can't really see the attraction, other than the few European specialties they carry. The produce selection is pretty basic and prices are high - $1.99/lb for Royal Gala apples at this time of year, compared to $0.99 at Superstore - although they do carry a few seasonal items that you won't see elsewhere, and I will give a nod to the huge, untrimmed broccoli heads. Packaged goods were pretty pedestrian with the exception of some previously noted European brands. The bakery had lots of Crisco-coated white cake in plastic boxes and the meat was standard stuff at standard prices with the exception of some interesting sausages and cured meats. The place is utterly charmless and reminded me of the old IGA stores.

              If I need some dry Bulgarian feta any time soon, I know where to get it, but other than that I'll stick with the stores in my neighborhood. Even if there was a Highland farms around the corner I wouldn't be there often.

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

              1. re: hal2010
                Kagemusha RE: hal2010 Oct 15, 2011 05:20 PM

                Quality of the produce at the Miss. HF is superb. Around here lower prices=lower quality to the point of being axiomatic. Cheap apples are usually bruised apples. Too many orchards on the western fringes of the GTA to bother with supermarkets' limited selection and iffy quality. I'm guessing the Miss. HF store's bigger and newer.

                1. re: Kagemusha
                  sasgirl RE: Kagemusha Oct 15, 2011 07:26 PM

                  I agree, my SO just went today and got really big fuji apples and quince from there. Miss HF's produce just can't be beat. And I love the huge selection there and the pasta sauce that they make. Cakes and pastries are hit and miss. Our favourite is the dulce de leche cake, it's pretty decent for a grocery store cake.

                2. re: hal2010
                  c
                  chunkeymonkey RE: hal2010 Oct 15, 2011 06:05 PM

                  I like to go to HF but not so much to shop there,I have to agree with hal2010, that their prices are higher than other supermarkets,so I only shop for produce that I cannot find any where else
                  like their pickle cucumbers,or in the summer for their artichokes,also their meats although expensive are of good quality, and their head butcher is really friendly and helpful.

                  1. re: chunkeymonkey
                    jayt90 RE: chunkeymonkey Oct 15, 2011 07:25 PM

                    chmonkey is more balanced than hal. I was in HF and Loblaw today, and at HF I saw an exceptional selection of Ont. produce, including apples from their own farm. Loblaw had 50% Canadian produce. Their fresh herbs were Colombian or Australian, and $4 a package, vs. $1 for HF local Ont. herbs.

                    HF beef was 100% Canadian AAA, and counter served, while Loblaw was AA or U.S. select with Canadian AAA at the small unattended counter.

                    The local cabbage, tomatoes, kale, collards, cucumbers, dill, apples, pears,squash, pumpkins, onions, greens and potatoes at HF are as good as farmers markets in this late season, and the other major chains are lacking.

            2. Googs RE: grandgourmand Nov 20, 2011 10:50 AM

              Where's the Diana's post?

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