Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Warm Welcome Wonderful Wonderous Wegmans...now say it 5 times fast
I rounded the corner with the anticipation of aisles of: unparalleled products; produce as far as the eye could see; just-off-the-assembly-line grocery carts; and, customer service conducive of a grand opening. Embarrassingly enough,to admit, I had never visited a Wegmans. P.G. (Prince George's County in Maryland) pulled off the improbable when they enticed the power house food center to open a location in their county. I made my inaugural trip after the record- breaking opening weekend so I did not have to contend with the droves of clamoring customers.
Comfortable shoes? Check! Camera phone? Check! Wallet? Check! Brand new Wegmans customer card? Check! Let's shop! And shopping is exactly what you want to do from the moment you enter the complex. I found myself mimicking a zealous kid..."Oohh! I want that!" "Can I have that?!" "That's so cool!" With my senses fully heightened, I nodded at the greeter welcoming me and exhibited a smile that would remain for my entire visit.
At Wegmans, F is for Fresh. As you enter, organically displayed produce entices you to fill your cart in one full swoop. There are an abundance of the familiars like bright red grapes, boston bibb lettuce and seasonal root vegetables. But you realize this is not any ordinary grocery store when you note a conclave of squashes that reach far beyond butternut. Undoubtedly the fresh produce centerpieces are the glass-encased imported truffles going for $299 a pound. Yes; truffles in a grocery store! If you cannot find your five (5) fruits and vegetables here, you might want to resort to vitamins.
A winding aroma carried me toward the bakery and I am immediately transported to the sweet and savory section of whole breads and "scratch" pies. An open air kitchen reveals the secret force behind the magic. I found out a team of no fewer than 8 bakers are churning out a variety of bagels, decadent doughnuts and customized cakes. I sampled a ciabatta that was simple and perfect.
I carried on my mission to see everything Wegmans had to offer and found myself shaking my head in amazement with the attention to detail. The cheese center rivals any specialty store offering no fewer than 30 variety of cheeses. A candy aisle that looks like Dylan's in New York takes up two (2) aisles of the store. And if you have not been to Pier 1 lately, they have a china collection that can prepare you for any house party. Don't forget to take a stroll over to the healthy Vegetarian Bar, the freshly made and baked pizza station and the hot buffet with ingredients all provided from the store and prepared in house.
I worked up quite the appetite on my expedition and decided lunch was in order. Enter Wegmans' Food Bar. I have seen "eateries" in grocery stores before, but I cannot say that I have been treated to an eatery worthy of a review. This stylish oasis feels like an upscale Sports Bar worthy of accolades. I chose the bar so I could catch Sports Center and watch clips of the Cowboys' demise on Monday Night Football (Can you guess who my team is?...lol).
I was warmly greeted by Shannon who offered the customary opening. I sipped on a Sprite as I reviewed the menu. I was impressed with the offerings which appeared to be an upscale Americana cuisine. I went with a sampling of appetizers: Trio of Cheeses, Australian Lamb Lollipops & Yellowfish Tuna Roll. The cheeses were a brie, cambot cheddar and blue stilton -- all locally produced and complimented well with almonds, dried cranberries and apricots. I was delighted by the fresh complexity of the Yellowfish. The jalapeno heightened the roll while the lime added a perfect burst of acid. I did chuckle when I asked for chop sticks and complimenting soy sauce that they did not have. The lamb was a delicate medium, just as requested -- no overpowering flavors to distract from the lamb. It was nicely finished with a demi glaze. Overall it was beyond expectation and a pleasant finish.
I exited with another warm salutation and invitation to return. Needless to say, I will venture back quite regularly. It will be hard to make my "home" grocery store a store that is 20 minutes away, but I think it just may be worthy of the trip. And you will be happy to know I did make a purchase. The receipt reads: (5) 12 packs can sodas for $10 bucks (couldn't believe that deal), A Rootbeer Party Keg $14.99 (because I've never seen anything like it), Strawberry Chardonnay Cheese $8.99 and the experience...PRICELESS!!
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