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    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    Whole Foods University Heights Review

    Whole Foods opened yesterday in University Heights.  Gina and I went there last night, Kornells too.  The place was packed.  There was so much to see, so much to sample, so much to take home and try.  The produce was lush and orderly, perfect rows of apples, perfect arrangements of salad greens, pristine and orderly despite all of the foot traffic.  Interestingly, there was a section where you can buy eggs a la carte -- all different kinds of chicken eggs, goose eggs, duck eggs, even emu eggs.  An emu egg is about the size of a mango, and a lot heavier.  I have no idea what one does with an emu egg (make a big omelette, said Gina), but they have them.
    The cheese selection was incredibly extensive.  It was there that I spoke with Ron -- a Lakewood native who had been living in Chicago for a few years and working at Whole Foods there, and then took this opportunity to move home in order to work at Cleveland's Whole Foods.  He gave me a bit of the rundown about how I should feel free to ask for samples, and if I buy anything off the shelf that I take home and don't like, I should feel free to return it because Whole Foods stands behind what it sells.  
    There were lots of prepared foods bars.  Olive bar, seafood bar (cold cooked seafood), three different salad-type bars with vegetarian offerings, dessert bar, and something called a "smokehouse bar" which was not set up last night (but it looked like it would be barbeque and pulled meats.)  They had premade sandwiches (the turkey pesto looked very good), fresh hot pizza, sushi, a lot of things we'll probably just have to discovery the next time through.  The meats are all hormone free etc., and they looked fantastic.  The fish market had so much to choose from, I had visions of many evenings of grilling fish, and the meat market had lots of excellent looking meat, pork and chicken sausages, buffalo, excellent cuts of beef and poultry.  There was someone passing out sampled of grilled buffalo sirloin.
    We ended up buying several small containers of the prepared food items to take home and eat, a sort of Whole Foods tapis dinner.  Crabcakes, cooked fingerling potatoes, smoked mozzarella pasta salad, cold calamari salad, a cold seafood salad, Chesapeake Bay style shrimp (think Old Bay), a selection of olives, cheese, two freshly baked cookies, and a smattering of thing from the vegetarian bar, something curried, some marintated mushrooms, etc.  Most of it was good to very good -- there one item we did not care for was a egg-sized piece of calamari stuffed with crab salad. 
    They had a great beer selection too.  While I didn't buy any, Brian left with a six pack of Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre.  There appeared to be a great wine selection as well.  In fact, rather than entering the store through the main doors behind Cedar Center, we enter on the Cedar Road side through a single door where the wine was.  We skipped over the wine and moved right into the cheese and produce.
    The grocery store aisles were of ample width, and reminded me of Wild Oats in the sense that it had enough items that you could shop there as a primary grocery store.  They had natural and organic foods, and lots of ethnic offereings.  It was one part Wild Oats, one part Giant Eagle Legacy, and one part something new.  Gina spotted some dark chocolate peanut butter, and I put that in the cart.   
    The parking didn't appear as dicey as I thought it might be.  If you pull into Cedar Center off of Warrensville Center by the Boston Market, that seemed to be the primary parking.  I am not sure if the new parking garage is open yet.  We actually walked over, thinking (1) that would minimize any parking issues for us, (2) it was a beautiful night, and (3) to keep our impulse purchasing to a minimum of what we could carry home.  As it was, after going through the store looking for nothing in particular we managed to leave with three brown bags of items at just under $100.  That included some parm-reg cheese which was on sale for $10.99/lb, and some Scottish smoked salmon which was buy buy-one-get-one-free at $14.99 (we'd sampled it), a box of roasted red pepper tomato soup, organic strawberries and apples, brie and robusto cheeses, various prepared foods, a bottle of lingonberry soda (which Kathleen spotted first and put into her cart), a couple of frozen lunch entres, and a few other delightful things that are all down in the kitchen now.   
    I lived at Shaker Square when Wild Oats opened there and I remember how excited and enthused I was then, and this shopping experience beat that.  Still, I found myself wondering whether the store would look this great in a few weeks or a few months.  Whether the selection would diminish over time -- how soon do those emu eggs go away?  Will the employees lose their enthusiasm and grow surly?  When do the perfect rows of apples become just a bin?  After just a couple of years, Wild Oats at Shaker Square closed down as part of a "corporate reorganization."  Located at the corner of Cedar and Warrensville, I'd almost expect this store to be placed a little further east, a little closer to 271, like at Legacy Village (except that Giant Eagle is already there.)  And the Tops across the street just happened to disappear while Whole Foods was already under construction, making this the neighborhood grocery now (I otherwise shop at Zagara's on Lee, Heinen's on Green and Giant Eagle at Legacy).  But Whole Foods is obviously bigger than a neighborhood grocery.  It seems like people go out of their way to shop at Trader Joe's, and as people discover Whole Foods, I think and hope they'll do the same.  
    Reading this over ... I left out the live music, the bagger at checkout who was in from DC for the opening, the array of paper products and vitamins and little bottles of natural holistic health stuff, how every checkout was manned and there was no waiting in line, the 2 for $5 pineapples, the bakery, the 2 for $10 hanging potted plants, the lunch counter by the produce and cheese section (which we didn't get near because it was busy busy busy with people seated and eating.)  And they seemed to have a lot of ice cream, including Woo City, Ben & Jerry's, Haagan-Daz (including the larger containers) and more.

    Comments on "Whole Foods University Heights Review"


    Blogger Gina Ventre said ... (8:48 AM, March 22, 2007) : 

    I loved our double date to the grocery store.

    I noticed that they were serving wine at the lunch counter.

    The fresh cookies, croissants, and muffins looked awesome. I can't wait to try a chocolate croissant.

    Also, they had a coffee bar.


    Blogger Brian Kornell said ... (9:03 AM, March 22, 2007) : 

    The steak we had last night was great. As were the cookies. As was the smoked mozzerella pasta salad. The Dogfish head went perfectly with our dinner.

    I can't wait for that smokehouse bar to open. We'll be going back soon.


    Blogger Mrs. Bebout said ... (9:35 AM, March 22, 2007) : 

    Can you take your cart to the car? Is there parcel pick up? Do they also sell crap food like tater tots?


    Blogger anne said ... (9:56 AM, March 22, 2007) : 

    OMG, I'm so hungry reading this post! I don't know if I can wait til 5pm to drive up there and battle the crowds for a sample of the yumtious food! I may have to go over at lunch time. Who's up for a trip?


    Blogger Audient said ... (11:08 AM, March 22, 2007) : 

    I saw people out in the parking lot with carts, yes.

    Parcel pick up -- I don't think there is one.

    Tater tots -- haha, I don't think they had them, but I didn't look. I do love a nice tater tot. They probably had frozen potatoes of some kind.

    I am having Whole Foods for lunch today -- some sort of frozen cashew chicken thing that Gina threw in the cart.


    Blogger Gina Ventre said ... (11:45 AM, March 22, 2007) : 

    I ate 4 delicious strawberries before class, just finished up Brown Cow all natural yogurt in "creamy coffee" and will be eating Whole kitchen's chicken tikka masala for lunch.


    Blogger Brian Kornell said ... (12:56 PM, March 22, 2007) : 

    Cashew Chicken frozen meal from whole foods was good. The portion was bigger than most frozen meals and far more delicious.


    Blogger Audient said ... (1:01 PM, March 22, 2007) : 

    I ended up going out to lunch, so my Cashew Chicken will wait till tomorrow (if it survives the night in the work freezer), but I did eat an organic Washington Gala apple and it was very tasty.


    Blogger Kathleen said ... (1:13 PM, March 22, 2007) : 

    I thought all the food we sampled last night and made for dinner was delicious, especially the fingerling potatoes with roasted onions.

    We're definitly going back soon and we're stealing your idea for a tapas style dinner. There were too many things I want to try. Maybe a giant sized emu omlette.

    I would have been very surprised if that giant calamari roll was actually good. I like my calamari in rings, breaded and fried.


    Blogger anne said ... (2:01 PM, March 22, 2007) : 

    Me too, Kathleen. Not so much with the giant chewy calamari thing. Small, tender, fried. Mmmm.


    Blogger Kristen said ... (2:07 PM, March 22, 2007) : 

    You guys are doing this wrong. You shouldn't eat organic veggies and fruits. Pesticides keep your insides preserved and helo stop the spread of cancer. I thought everyone knew that!


    Blogger Audient said ... (3:02 PM, March 22, 2007) : 

    I took a chance on the giant calamari thing. And it wasn't the calamari that displeased me, it was the stuffing. If it had been stuffed with something else, that might have been better.

    I am looking forward to those Thai potato chips.


    Blogger Gina Ventre said ... (4:38 PM, March 22, 2007) : 

    the fingerling potatoes were good.

    the smoked mozz pasta salad was good.

    the double chocolate cookie was good.

    the crabcake was good.

    the tartar sauce for the crabcake was good.

    the parsnip taste sample was good. thats because i love the earthy taste of roasted parnsips.


    Blogger Audient said ... (5:55 PM, March 22, 2007) : 

    I could have eaten a tub of either the fingerling potatoes or the mozz pasta.

    The crabcake was ok. I tend to hold them to a pretty high standard and I have been spoiled by excellent crabcakes eaten at the shore. I like my crabcakes lumpier, more lumps of crab. The caper tartar sauce with the crabcake was great, though.

    The parsnip taste sample was good, even though we didn't buy any to take home.

    Perhaps we'll eat that roasted red pepper tomato soup tonight. And a salad with the greens we got.


    Blogger Gina Ventre said ... (9:26 AM, March 23, 2007) : 

    And we did. And it was good.

    Welcome to the roasted red pepper tomato soup - is - crack society.


    Blogger aliasgrace said ... (1:49 PM, March 23, 2007) : 

    The phrase "fingerling" somewhat embarasses me.


    Anonymous audeint said ... (9:24 AM, March 24, 2007) : 

    Hey they do have organic tots in the freezer section! I picked up a bag last night. Haven't tried them yet.


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