Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Fairway Review

Well, a little off-topic, though Fairway Red Hook is a legit tourist destination...

[For tourists: The café in the Red Hook branch of this famous NYC family supermarket has an incredible view of the water, blue infinity, big industrial ships, tugboats, water taxis, bridges, Jersey, the horizon. A trip to Red Hook, window shopping on Van Brunt St and having a lobster roll at the Fairway café is a great New York afternoon.]

But the real reason I'm writing this is because I shop at this Fairway almost every day and wish to praise some of its products and pan others. To wit:

Unusually good Fairway-specialty food items:

•The roast beef at the deli counter.
•The lobster salad at the deli counter.
•The aged Manchego, the rosemary-crusted Manchego, the Humboldt Fog, the Livarot, the Moon Madness, the Grafton cheddar in black wax,
•The fresh-made basil pesto--the bright green one--that you can sometimes find on the shelf by the home-made pastas.
•All of the fresh cheese products: Ben's cream cheese, the ricotta cheese, the pot cheese, sold by weight at the cheese counter and in the case next to it. Absolutely superior to any packaged dairy.
•The fresh-ground honey-roasted peanut butter and fresh-ground almond butter. (Machine in the organic section).
•The dark-chocolate-covered graham crackers. (Found across the aisle from the fish counter; you will hate me for introducing you to these.)
•Green's & Blacks dark chocolate bars. (Doorway of the organic section. Imported from England and so yummy.)
•Packaged cashews, slivered almonds, walnuts...all the Fairway-packaged nuts are fresh and delicious.
•Dried cranberry-and-cherry mix. Hard to find and great for fresh cranberry sauce around Thanksgiving.
•The Australian, organic, grass-fed beef, I forget the brand, is, I hear from a reporter who met the farmer, made from real animals, eating only grass, living normal, cruelty-free animal lives outdoors. Anything imported from Australia is bad for the environment, but this is the only Fairway meat I can really vouch for.
•Imported beer. "Duchy Originals" is the Prince of Wales' brand. Also Chimay and Lambics with fruit, if you like those. I think they're fun for specialty events.
•From the bakery: The baguettes, the bagels and flagels and bialys, the sourdough rolls, the raisin walnut rolls, pretty much everything in the self-serve bread area.
•From the dessert counter: the madelines.
•I'm not going to talk about the Fage yogurt and the Wallaby and the kombucha, etc., because that stuff is available everywhere, but Fairway does have a good selection.
•Last, but oh so not least: Ciao Bella sorbet. The Blackberry Cabernet. The Dark Chocolate. The Blood Orange, the Passionfruit....

Things that are bad at Fairway:
•Most of the produce isn't all that.
•Most of the prepared deli-foods are inedible.
•The Fairway soups.
•The fresh salsa and guac remind me of that New Yorker article about the company that imparts flavor to a "tasteless nutrient slurry".
•The rotisserie chicken. It has a good flavor and sometimes is so overdone it's pleasantly chewy and falling apart, but the breasts are too dry.
•The hummus & tahinis (see "tasteless slurry").
•The fresh pastas and gnocchi are not great, and some of the ravioli is downright disgusting (pumpkin).
•Bacon and sausages. Why is the selection so bad?
•Any of those puff-dried vegetables, as well as the big plastic boxes of "veggie chips."
•The bulk coffee ranges from terrible to undrinkable. We replaced our coffee maker twice before catching on.
•Everything at the café, with the exception of the lobster roll is execrable. Including the service. World's worst sandwiches and pizza. I would say that the ham-and-Gruyere croissant sandwich is the closest thing to semi-edible the Fairway cafe produces, but that's nearly as fattening as the lobster roll.
•Fairway does not bake good loaves of bread.
•Fairway does not make good cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, fancy desserts, brownies, etc.

Would love to see comments from other Fairway shoppers!


  1. You forgot the giant capers.

    FYI: All beef from oz is grass fed.

  2. They carry prosciutto from Iowa that is very very good. At the deli counter.

    And we love the organic black currant juice that is by the organic milk, we drink it seriously diluted with water. I haven't seen it anywhere else.

    So true about the cafe. Such a shame. I once saw a french couple sitting outside with a baguette, cheeses from the cheese counter and a jar of jam. That would be the way to go if you want to enjoy the view. Bring your own coffee.

  3. vetterhex: thanks for the tip on the prosciutto. And that currant juice is great. I didn't include it because when I started the list I was thinking of including just Fairway-brand products. (The list is in the order that the products appear in Fairway; that juice is in the very front.) But then there was mission creep.

    MB: You are right, the giant capers should be on the list. I am not a fan, but it's more a personal thing than a reflection on their quality.

    I've also now gotten a vote for the guac.