Here's what we can report after last night's charity preview of the Uptown branch of Whole Foods Market opening this Thursday at 97th and Columbus.
The Shophound is still stuffed.
We are subconsciously drawn to free sampling of any sort, and last night's event filled the store with its signature tasting tables gathered from its many vendors and some local restaurants. All those bite sized morsels really add up. A partial list of what we sampled would include:
Oysters on the half shell
Indian food from Spice
Bits of what people who aren't from Maryland call crab cakes
Various flavors of sausages
A mini-sloppy Joe that was indeed sloppy, but not actually that mini
Several forms of goat cheese
A nice little chunk of Parmiggiano Reggiano
Double espresso gelato
Bits of a healthy snack bar that is composed of ingredients that we know will taste like mushy wood when combined but we try it anyway
Mini-tarts from Pearl River which we were interested to discover is a bakery in New York State and not the Chinese import store in SoHo.
There are no great surprises in store for neighborhood shoppers when the store opens. This enormous branch appears to have synthesized some of the qualities of Whole Foods' other NYC locations including Union Square's bi-level layout, Tribeca's raw bar and bulk grain dispensers and the Bowery's beer shop, a smaller version of which is tucked in a corner next to the cheese counters. Sadly, there was no Pommes Frites booth which is probably just as well considering the store's close proximity to us.
Not yet fully stocked, the well appointed store was only in preview mode, and not ready for actual shopping, but enthusiastic guests still lined up in anticipation to pay $15 (benefiting the Riverside Park Fund), get a look at the sleek wood and tile interior and scarf up those tasting samples to the sounds of two different jazz trios. In abundant attendance were the twin scourges of any New York grocery store: children and, how shall we put this, extra-mature people (Yeah, we are prepared for the nasty comments. Let 'em rip) both causing extra gridlock around the more popular tables in their own unique ways either by running around and getting in your way or taking their sweet time deciding which flavor of chutney to try even as a long line forms behind them.
After filling our tummy, and entering a drawing to win a special edition 90th Anniversary Kitchen Aid Mixer (which we have not an inch of space for but want anyway –it was so nice and shiny), we left with a copy of Cooking Light magazine and one of the potted garden mums that filled what will be the checkout counters.
We will do our best not to kill it, but we can't promise anything.
Whole Foods Market 808 Columbus Avenue between 97th & 100th Streets opens Thursday August 27th