Advertisement

The Gossiping Gourmet: Whole Foods gives wholly good experience

October 31, 2012|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz | By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Wasabi pepper seared scallops on a bed of forest mushrooms and asparagus saute at the Back Bay Tavern in Whole Foods Market in Newport Beach.
Wasabi pepper seared scallops on a bed of forest mushrooms… (DON LEACH, unknown )

The new, long-awaited Whole Foods Market in Fashion Island has opened with a bang, and patrons are flocking to this mega-food emporium like sports fans to the Super Bowl. Traffic is so intense at the moment and a parking spot so precious that there are traffic police controlling the flow as well as complimentary valet parkers running to and fro and even a gentleman with a golf cart who will chauffeur you and your purchases back to your car.

Even if you are familiar with the Whole Food Markets, this is a brand new experience. Unique to Southern California is a tea bar called the Tea Hive, which features hot and cold tea lattes, tea sorbets and other tea beverages. The cold tea drinks are made in cocktail shakers and prepared by "teatenders." At breakfast they serve chai oatmeal and an acai crunch cup. After 10:30 a.m., you can get bowls and wraps.

Advertisement

Although there are taquerias in other Whole Foods, here the meats are all house-smoked. Many Whole Foods have a large selection of cheese and charcuterie but here, there is also a fromagerie with cheese from Neal's Yard and other exclusive selections. There is pizza being freshly baked, a hot Chinese food area, a huge case of assorted sushi, a made-to-order sandwich bar, a prepared food case, as well as fresh-baked breads and an extensive selection of desserts. Then, of course there are three aisles with self-service counters laden with endless different kinds of salads, soups and hot entrées.

Most unique is the bar and restaurant in the rear of the store called the Back Bay Tavern. Bar seating, two low couches and a few tables are augmented by an extensive covered outdoor eating area. The daily menu is served from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and a special After Dark menu with dinner entrées is served from 5 p.m. to closing.

We sat at the 100-year-old bar, which was resurrected from a Harlem speakeasy. We started with wings and tofu sticks dressed with a choice of sauce: Buffalo, inferno, ginger soy or dry spiced. We chose the ginger soy. The wings were actually drumettes, very lightly coated, fried and glazed with the thin, delicate sauce. They were juicy and tender. The tofu sticks were mostly crust, as the tofu itself was sliced very thin, so there was no contrast in texture — great for lovers of fried things, not so great for lovers of tofu.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles
|
|
|