Yesterday morning I went to Whole Foods. Not the one I frequent to in Columbus Circle, I’m talking about the one just opened yesterday on Bowery & Houston on the Lower East Side. Honestly, I think of it more like East of SoHo in my own geographic terms but it’s supposed to be labeled the LES. Anyways, I know this opening since there’s a lot of press coverage on it earlier this week from papers to blogs. So, why not visit there?
First thing to note, this place is HUGE! The layout isn’t so different from the other WFs; you are always greeted with their produce first but this time you have someone at the door asking if you would like to try their rolls. I just passed this offer since I’ve eaten their rolls and I find them decent or good, depending upon which one I have.
Produce section; taken from the second floor
Since it’s early (for some; it was 8:10 AM), there aren’t that many people in here. Mostly are a few local residents and people who heard about this place being opened yesterday, or the visiting press. The latter group of people was sort of the reason why I was able to sneak out my camera and start taking photos. Initially, no one stopped me until I went to the bakery and floral departments where they did tell me to stop. I felt kinda bad taking photos but I still don’t exactly understand why it’s not allowed.
As I strolled through the entire store, it’s easy to get a little lost in finding your stuff since the size reminds me of being in a suburban supermarket or something similar to the size of Fairway but a ton cleaner.
The cheese department is bigger than any other WF store I’ve been to (and I’ve been to all three: Chelsea, Union Square, and Columbus Circle) but I still prefer Fairway’s cheese department more since the prices are better and the people who work behind the counter know their cheese well. The strange elements WF adds to their cheese department was the “shower” (and a small “cooler”; I didn’t photograph that) which is more like a miniature version of an indoor fountain. The sign that you will see below, reads: “A steady flow of water adds humidity to the room.” Odd.
The confections department is a lot bigger and the choices of chocolates and some Middle Eastern desserts are more available to the masses. I didn’t care much for the meat and fish department just because I don’t by either of those from WF. As for prepared foods, the salad/food bar is a bit larger, you have a pommes frites station, and chili too.
At the end of my own tour of this ginormous place, I ended up buying a cup of gelato. I even admit that I’m eating this at 9 AM. I asked where their seating area is located and they said that it would be upstairs. When I got up there, the seating area could fit in an army! It had two sit-in bars that serves you food like sushi in Columbus Circle but bigger and an Italian food area as well. I just wanted to sit in a well lit area and I ended up getting a seat where the sun was beaming through the windows.
I don’t care since it’s available to me and I’m not planning to come here very often. Since I don’t go to the Lower East Side that often even though I should. Anyways, here’s the gelato.
The visible scoop is fig gelato; the one that is peeking and melting a little is hazelnut chocolate, and underneath that is Thai chili chocolate. I know the flavor combinations are strange but it sort of work. The hazelnut chocolate is the bridge between the two; fig works well with chocolate and hazelnut and the chocolate matches the chocolate in the Thai chili. The chili though was quite a spicy one since the chili doesn’t burn on your tongue; it burns the back of your throat.
So that’s my two cents on the new Whole Foods. I would just come here for the interesting confection choices and the gelato. The flavor choice of gelatos in Union Square is severely limited.
If you want to see photos about this place, please click here.
95 East Houston Street (between Bowery and Christie Streets)
New York, NY
Generally, no photos are allowed indoors because it’s “private property.” In the case of retail, the owner don’t want competitors to look at pictures. If you speak to a manager beforehand and explain that you’re a food blogger who loves their stuff (and not trying to sell trade secrets), they’ll probably oblige.
I thought so…probably I should have said/done that but obviously, I didn’t. Thanks for letting me know, Jessica. :)
awww man, I could totally go for some pomme frites now, you’ll have to report back if you try it! :)
I like wandering around Whole Foods just to look, though I hardly shop there – some of their items are way out of my budget. I agree that Fairway is more affordable and perhaps even customer friendly market! and the cheese there! oh my, the cheeeeeses :)
Getting my hands on some of their pommes frites would probably a few weeks ’til I actually visit down there. I don’t usually hang out around this area.
YES! Fairway has awesome cheeses! I think I should visit there soooon… I don’t know about Fairway being more customer friendlier than WF but it is cheaper.
oh my, pommes frites and il laboratorio del gelato??? i am SO THERE!!! thanks for this fantastic report!
You’re welcome, Kayoko! :)
Pommes Frites at 123 2nd Ave is the original, best frites in NY
I would much prefer going to the original storefronts of Il Laboratorio and Pommes Frites, though.
Thanks for displaying my chocolate. My business is predominantly wholesale but I do have a website where I take orders, robynschocolate.com.
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