Shopping with Bwog

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Finally, the end to your late-night grocery expense-related insomia.

Fairway wins. For everything. Too bad it’s that awkward 10+ blocks away. The 125th St. (and 12th Ave.) Fairway isn’t just the supermarket of choice for West Siders but for New Yorkers all over. The produce section alone takes up the same space as Morton Williams. All the staples are here as well as fresh baked bread, fresh roasted coffee, an olive bar to put D’Agastino’s to shame, more vegan and vegetarian food than you can shake an organic stick at, and the infamous walk-in freezer, complete with coats for chilly customers.

Inside, there a whole refrigerated world of meat

and milk and sea critters. So how do you take advantage of this epicurean treasure? Walk up to Fairway. Develop your own opinion on Manhattanville expansion. Shop your little heart out. Once you’ve paid, push your cart back to the entrance and you’ll see a greenish-blue minivan/gypsy cab. The friendly fellow inside will drive you back to Columbia for $5. You just saved $30 off your grocery bill. Take your new-found beer money and celebrate.

Oh, UFM. The Columbia staple. When West Side Market left, you stuck around. But sometimes we feel like you’re growing distant. First the makeover, then the cashiers who won’t acknowledge our existence except to say “press OK.” Sometimes they just reach around and press OK for us.

Still, you’re close. You have all the staples. The produce is all so shiny, if tasteless. A sign claims there’s a butcher in the basement and if we press a certain button, we can talk to him on closed circuit TV. If that’s not service, it’s something closely approximating it.

In the end, we can’t even hate on your prices. They’re bad but no worse than anywhere else south of 125th. Just smile a little and we might be happier to come by.

D’Agostino’s— D’Ag, as you insist– you are the tricky one. First you lure us in with spotless aisles, friendly help, and promises of D’Ag Card savings. Then you slap us in the face with prices that would make a welfare mother weep. Sure, we get $1 off asparagus with 500 Green Card points. We’re also paying $1 more for asparagus anyway. And how are the points calculated? Questions are met with a cashier’s blank stare.

Reasons to shop at D’Ags are few but surprisingly compelling. First, you don’t want your meat packaged by an underground butcher only reachable by closed circuit camera. Second, your child goes to The School (and is there a more pretentious name than that?) and you want to “network” and “check out” and eventually “have romantic flings” with other School parents.

If we’re talking talking about Fairway 10 blocks uptown, it’s only fair to include Gristedes, parked outside the 103rd st. stop 10 blocks downtown. Gristedes is know by few and beloved by fewer. This should not be so. The store is surprisingly large with aisles that, unlike in Morton Williams, more than one person can fit through. Charm is hidden in every corner.

Look at this cute animatronic bugger hiding out by the deli case:


Yes, the produce tends to be rotten. And the sign listing egg prices is hand lettered. The prices, though, are no worse than Morton Williams and the selection is certainly better. Look at this soup wall:

How can you not buy your soup from it? It might not be easy carrying a full week’s worth of groceries half a mile uptown but for a change of pace, Gristedes is not bad. And you’ll know you’re doing your part to keep the red man down.

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  1. Pantyhose

    I read Dozen L Eggs, and I thought it was supposed to read L'Eggs, as in the brand of pantyhose. THAT would be an interesting comparison.

  2. shira

    I wish you had reviewed appletree!

  3. Julia

    What about Garden of Eden?

  4. from the Spec, Feb 2004

    "The August 2003 The Short List compared prices of area supermarkets with respect to a selected basket of goods. With Fairway serving at the baseline of 100, UFM indexed at 116, meaning the basket cost 16 percent more at UFM than Fairway. West Side Market received 127, and D'Ag Fresh Market 142. Kirschner roughly estimated Morton Williams would receive between 120 and 125."

  5. i agree

    you should add appletree and c-town to make this all the more MAGICAL.

  6. Max

    Freshdirect may deserve a mention here - www.freshdirect.com. The quality is high and the prices are moderate.

  7. Max

    Freshdirect may deserve a mention here - www.freshdirect.com. The quality is high and the prices are moderate.

  8. Todd

    Man I miss West Side Market. Too bad I'm graduating in a month, so I'll never see it return.

    sniff, sniff.

  9. s m

    great job with this bwog

  10. west side market

    I thought the WSM was returning before the end of the semester?

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