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New Bristol Farms in Santa Monica opened yesterday

Has anybody been yet? It's at Wilshire and Berkeley. I made a quick stop yesterday to pick up some wine and sorbet on my way to a dinner party so i didn't get to give it the full once-over, but what I did see looked pretty great. Parking lot was a zoo at 7:30pm, but I managed to find street parking very nearby. It appears to be at least twice the size of their other stores I've been in. Meat, cheese and wine departments all looked beautiful, and the employees were very friendly and helpful (if still in the midst of figuring some things out). I'm looking forward to going back for further exploration.

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  1. This is a former Albertson's, so it is indeed much larger than other Bristol Farms nearby -- Westwood at Ohio, Bev Hills.

    1. I was there today. Plenty of parking in their huge outdoor lot. I suspect the Whole Foods down the street will lose a lot of customers to Bristol Farms for two reasons: First, BF is huge, and has very wide aisles. No bumping into other shoppers. Second, the parking is so easy and plentiful.
      They have the usual salad bar, soup bar and a large number of prepared hot and cold food bars.
      I plan to add BF to my grocery shopping rotation list along with Bob's and Gelson's..

      1. Gonna go check if this location sells jamon iberico de bellota...

        4 Replies
        1. re: J.L.

          If they don't, requesting it should be simple. BF is usually good about that. My only fear as a dept head with you is your well-versed palate may give a thumbs-down to their particular jamon.

          1. re: bulavinaka

            1) the bristol farms near me has been VERY responsive to my requests for specific items. (i.e. i like the Mocha Difference flavor of Three Twins Organic ice cream. no other store would go out of their way to keep something this idiosyncratic in stock, but Bristol Farms has.)

            2)if their bulk food department carries the organic pistachio nuts, definitely give them a try.

            1. re: westsidegal

              If you're talking about the Westchester store, +1. I like that store a lot. The deli is weak, the baked goods are so-so (it seems all I've visited are like that) but the other depts are very good to great. They've always been great customer service-wise, and their flowers and plants are better than most stores and florists.

              1. re: bulavinaka

                yup, that's the one.
                the westchester store is within walking distance of my home.

        2. Boy is this a nice market, giant cheese section, beautiful meat & fish counter, and it was packed at lunch time

          1. Super nice new addition to the neighborhood. I wandered all the aisles, taking in the products they stock, many of which were new to me. Cheese selection is fantastic. It won't replace Gelson's for me, but I really am impressed with this new store.

            I did mention to the super friendly check out person that I missed the fried chicken that Albertson's carried, and he said they've heard that from a few people (Bristol Farms is owned by Albertsons).

            1 Reply
            1. re: yogachik

              I *do* wish Bristol Farms made a great fried chicken like some of the other markets. Occasionally, they'll have it on the hot line and it's wonderful.

              Some of those 'super friendly' check out people are coming back to BH Bristol...

            2. The also have a wonderful looking sandwich carving station

              1. Just returned from doing a pretty big marketing there. I was very impressed with the quality and variety of goods. Very nice customer service. The carving station is excellent. They custom made a pulled pork sandwich for my husband's lunch. It was a very generously sized sandwich. He could only finish half. I did not look at the meat department,but the seafood dept looked inviting. Spirits seem reasonably priced (vodka same price as Trader Joe. Produce appeared to be good quality. My only criticism is that the shopping carts are way too deep. I had to ask for assistance unloading at register.
                All in all, a nice addition to the neighborhood.

                1 Reply
                1. re: maudies5

                  The container of fresh cut honeydew was not ripe. But the container of watermelon was fine. I will go back to TJ for fresh cut fruit.

                2. Returned today to pick up a sandwich after S.M. Farmer's Mkt. Turkey was hand carved. I asked for cole slaw as a side. Got home and discovered the cole slaw was rancid. eeeew:(
                  Turkey was good, lettuce was awful, tomato pathetic. I threw out everything but the turkey, which was good.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: maudies5

                    I hope you called the manager and let him/her know.

                    1. re: Wayno

                      Thanks for suggestion. Just got off the phone with asst. mgr. He apologized and said he was going to immediately check it out. We both agreed that the problem is that they are not selling enough of the slaw as it is not offered as a side in the same area where the carving station is. The server had to walk to a different part of the deli, where the salads are, in order to get the cole slaw. The usual sides are potato salad or fruit. I happen to like cole slaw on a turkey sandwich. Fortunately, it never did touch the turkey.

                    2. re: maudies5

                      This is troubling. They won't survive with mistakes like that one.
                      I bet Gelson's or TJ's would love to take over the BF space.

                      1. re: maudies5

                        I was curious about BF in Santa Monica so I checked it out.

                        Although it's larger and more spacious I still love 'my' Bristol Farms on Beverly better. The SM store has a nice cheese dept. though....much larger than Beverly HIlls....but of course we've got the BH Cheese Shop to compensate.
                        Too bad about the about your sandwich. That should never happen.

                        1. re: latindancer

                          The cheese department is huge and offers a good variety. However, most of the cheese is pre sliced and wrapped. No different than most supermarkets. When I look for cheese I want it sliced by an expert and want a taste. I get this at Surfas as well as Beverly Hills Cheese Shop. David, who manages the cheese department at Surfas and Norbert in Bh are the great cheese guys.

                          1. re: maudies5

                            That's because it's a supermarket, not a specialty shop.

                            1. re: maudies5

                              Bristol Farms has gone through a few changes since I started shopping at the BH store.
                              Many years ago, before being purchased by Albertson's, it carried items I couldn't find anywhere else. Now that the company's been purchased by a private investment company there continues to be more and more changes and sometimes not so good. I continue to still only purchase my cheese at BH Cheese Shop....I'm like you. I want a true expert helping me with it.
                              BF is the only place, because it's convenient for me, where I'll purchase my seafood.

                        2. Just got back from the new store to pick up some lamb racks for my son's birthday dinner. Beautiful store, miles better than what was there. Very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff. The cheese counter was incredibly well-stocked, was able to find a few things I could not find at my local Gelson's, which has about a quarter of the size devoted to the gourmet cheeses. Especially big bonus was that they sell my absolute favorite hot sauce that I could previously only find up north. Looking forward to shopping here more often.

                          1. Went there last night. It's been yrs since I've been inside a Bristol Farms, but it's like Disneyland inside of there! Looking forward to exploring the wines, cheese, and even trying some of the pre-packaged salads (!), which seemed to be priced pretty well. The deli area also has a nice (if rather small) indoor/outdoor seating area.

                            1. FYI, 10% off on every item on Tuesdays for seniors (62+)

                              13 Replies
                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                  Even better deal is that all beef is. 40% off today and tomorrow. Not sure if that applies to all meat. I bought prime NY steaks for $16.00 a pound and put them in freezer. Customer next to me bought the few remaining rib eyes and also loaded up on ground Wagyu.

                                  1. re: maudies5

                                    I was there this morning with no mention of this sale.

                                    1. re: Beachowolfe

                                      One only had to look at the prices to know something was going on. NY Prime steaks for $16.00 a pound (normally $29), Rib eye for $17.00. Now, there wasn't a great big sign announcing the 40% off, but I heard about this from a good source and asked the butcher about it at BF about it. He confirmed that those steaks I was eyeballing were 40% off and that sale was in effect today (Labor Day and Tuesday, while supplies last). The steaks looked well marbled, nicely trimmed and each weighed about 14 oz's. BTW, the steaks which were USDA Choice were around $10 a lb.

                                      1. re: maudies5

                                        A word of mouth sale? Hard to understand how it benefits BF to keep it secret and irritate shoppers who were in the store, but missed the sale.
                                        The only explanation that makes sense is the reduced price meat had a "sell by" date of 9/4 and they needed to move it quickly and quietly.
                                        Glad you got a good bargain! You certainly do have a good source.

                                        1. re: cujo

                                          Your "sell by" date explanation makes sense.

                                          1. re: cujo

                                            Don't know if it's a "sell by date" sale, but the Westchester store seems to have these sales often around the holidays.

                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                              Does the Westchester BF advertise or make a store announcement when they have a sale on their meat?

                                              1. re: cujo

                                                They do list their sales on line: including their
                                                Fill up the freezer!
                                                Bristol’s Own USDA Prime,
                                                Choice & Dry Aged Steak Sale
                                                40% off

                                                1. re: wienermobile

                                                  mystery solved. thanks for the link. i am now registered.

                                                  1. re: cujo

                                                    They do have their flyers at the entrance as well as signage throughout the store of course.

                                        2. re: maudies5

                                          Good to know, thank you, I will try to get back over there tonight or tomorrow.

                                    2. A few thoughts from my first visit yesterday:

                                      1. Service: Hitting it out of the park here. Really wonderful. Hopefully this is not a grand opening "Honeymoon" phenomenon only...

                                      2. They HAVE jamon iberico de bellota (they import the Fermin brand, which I like), AND the deli staff know how thin to cut it(!!!) While not as optimal as a Extramaduran cortador to hand-slice to razor thin perfection, their machine/staff does a 90% as good job with it.

                                      3. They carry UNsalted President butter from Europe! The salted variety is commonly found in LA stores, but this is the first place I've seen unsalted President butter in the city. Kudos.

                                      4. They carry Kings Hawaiian sliced bread (in short supply for quite sometime recently in local stores).

                                      5. Beautiful greengrocer displays. Almost too pretty to touch the perfectly stacked fruits & veggies.

                                      6. Lots and lots of gorgeous-looking beef.

                                      7. Seafood section has no odor (you hear that, SM Seafood?!), with healthy-looking specimens on display.

                                      They really made a nice first impression with me & the family.

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: J.L.

                                        What, J.L.? No mention of the cheese cases? And did you see the VERY ages cheeses behind large glass doors with the spotlights? What a beautiful display! I took a mental Kodak picture to enjoy after I left and I am still thinking about THOSE cheeses. Next time I might have to splurge and try a little.

                                        1. re: liu

                                          Impressive as the Bristol Farms' cheese section seems, my heart still belongs to Wally's Cheesebox... :-)

                                          1. re: J.L.

                                            I think anyone can measure any given one of BF's depts against a specialty store that does it better - one should expect that. What's appealing to me and something that might be overlooked by some is the accessibilty of BF -especially this one. Solid selection and quality , great customer service, a huge parking lot ( in frickin' Santa Monica) and generous hours make this place very appealing.

                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                              That parking lot alone is almost worth going to that location for...

                                              (I just realized I sound so like one of "The Californians" from Saturday Night Live...)


                                        2. re: J.L.

                                          I'm going to respectfully disagree with you about the produce. Then again, perhaps I am spoiled as I am a Wednesday regular at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. I didn't think that any of the produce looked particularly great. In fact, Vicente Foods may not have the huge department, but their produce is always top notch. So, +1 for Vicente. Re: Fish...I am going to continue to buy my fish at Santa Monica Seafood. You may not care for the smell of S.M. Seafood, but on the west side it is where I buy my seafood. S.M. Food is always busy. They turn over that fish very fast. I don't know if there is a fishmonger at BF who is willing to clean and filet a whole whitefish or a whole John Dory. Not a problem at S.M. Seafood. I got a good deal on Prime NY Steaks and put them in the freezer so no opinion yet. Anyway, glad you had a good first impression. I agree that BF is a good addition to the neighborhood and that generally means that other markets in the area will try to be competitive. So, win win for all.

                                          1. re: maudies5

                                            I spoke with the nice gentleman at the meat counter extensively about their dry aged beef, and then briefly with the gentleman at the fish counter. I get the feeling they will do anything you ask them to, re cleaning and filleting a whole fish. The staff was very eager to help and the checker told me they are all from different BF stores in the area, so they are well trained. Don't know if that is just a training phase though, or will be permanent. I remember my Ralph's getting a whole new crew when we had that awful grocery store strike a couple of years back, and they retained almost all of those employees. But I've got to say, they have some of the worst customer service I've encountered on the west side.

                                            1. re: maudies5

                                              To be fair, these were my preliminary impressions. I did not actually buy any of the fish on display at Bristol Farms that day. BUT the seafood dept. passed my (very non-scientific) whiff test, and the eyes on the fish were bright and non-glared.

                                              As for the produce & fruits - They are DISPLAYED nicely. Again, I did not buy (nor did I say that I bought) any of them.

                                              I usually schlep over to 99 Ranch or the Mar Vista Farmer's Market for my veggies & seafood (on the rare occasions when I do decide to cook at home)...

                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                I picked up a peck (no not literally!) of hatch chiles, and some nice packaged organic lettuces, baby spinach, baby spring mix and baby romaine. I like how the containers are half sized since I usually end up throwing out the larger containers about halfway through using them...... I think the produce is decent, then again, I didn't buy any fruit or other vegs. I also like the look of the whole foods produce areas, but I can't stand shopping there. I can't always get to the SaMo or PP farmers markets, either.

                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                  I will be at the Santa Monica Farmers Market in the AM. Have got my produce set for the next week. Why doesn't anyone ever talk about Mike'sEggs. Best eggs ever. Corner of Arizona and 2nd. A reason that the longest line at the market is for Mike's eggs. So-0 delicious.

                                                  1. re: maudies5

                                                    Do you know if Mike and his eggs make an appearance at any other Farmers Markets? Is he in Santa Monica on Saturdays? Torrance? Thousand Oaks?

                                                    1. re: liu

                                                      I see Mike's eggs only on Wed. Their eggs are also available at Farmshop in Brentwood for double the price.

                                          2. Does the giant Whole Foods in Santa Monica have parking?

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jgilbert1000

                                              Yes it is underground beneath the market.

                                              1. re: jgilbert1000

                                                The underground parking is always congested and difficult to get in & out of a parking space without a fender bender.
                                                There is a much larger WF on Lincoln in Venice with plenty of safe parking. You may want to try it instead of the one on Wilshire.

                                              2. Update on Bristol Farms.
                                                Impressed with the hand carved meats. The hand carved turkey is really delicious. Tastes as if it had been brined.
                                                I haven 't bought any fresh fish as I have never seen any customers in that department. That makes me nervous about purchasing fish there. I like really busy fish departments.
                                                The Heirloom tomatoes looked pathetic. The only tomatoes which looked decent were hot house. There are still good vine ripened tomatoes around.
                                                Spice department is sadly lacking in variety.
                                                I'm sticking with Vicente foods but will go to BF for turkey and brisket and pulled pork.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: maudies5

                                                  And for the gioia burrata. SOOOO delicious.

                                                  1. re: maudies5

                                                    Just bought some really great ribeye steaks there last night.

                                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                                        I bought some delicious Prime NY Steaks there. Have no quarrel with meat department. My concern is with lack of customers in fish dept and less than stellar looking produce.

                                                    1. re: maudies5

                                                      I bought both mussels and king crab legs there recently. Excellent service (gave me a claw for free) and both dishes turned out to be delicious.

                                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                        I am going to chalk it up to your sublime culinary skills. My issue with their fish market is it just isn't busy enough for my comfort level. I'm happy that you enjoyed your purchases

                                                        1. re: maudies5

                                                          Bought delicious trout...went back on Thursday and bought halibut...perfect. Fishmonger said they get fish in every day, NOT from SM Seafood....
                                                          Smoked brisket...yummy
                                                          Roasted turkey...terrific
                                                          My neighbor had the Wok guy make her dinner,said it was tasty.
                                                          SO happy they are in the hood
                                                          Just need to get them interested in more gluten free products, and I'll be blissful!

                                                        2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                          I have done fish and shellfish - 3 visits - always perfect and the guy there is a pro. Plus they will special order anything with a day or two advance notice.