It’s not surprising to find a variety of gourmet grocery stores on Manhattan Island. Yet, taking up the search for your favorite can be a time-consuming endeavor—a luxury that many of us just don’t have—and through trial and error, can be a costly expense many of us don’t want to pay.
I’m learning as I go along, and recently I discovered a find that is worth sharing with readers.
Garden of Eden grocers have a total of six stores, three which are in Manhattan. They haven’t been in business that long, only since 1994, but I have to say, a remarkable thing that stands out—aside from the thousands of gourmet items—is their customer service.
I witnessed firsthand that the old sales motto of “give customers what they want” is still in use here when I recently saw a shopper at the deli counter asking for a very specific order (a bit too specific if you ask me), and not only getting it, but with a smile.
The Garden has a European open market feel to it, with a fresh-fruit stand outside, and all kinds of delicacies on display throughout the store. It’s a nice throwback. They have a deli, charcuterie, cheese, cakes and breads, meat/seafood/poultry departments, as well as organics, dairy, etc.
The Chelsea location has a coffee bar to the right of the entrance, and is surrounded by loaves of a variety of artisan breads, pita breads, French, Lebanese, etc., made fresh daily. So, as you walk in, you are hit with the smell of fresh bread, coffee, and the smells of delicious food simmering in the background.
I was pleased to see that along with great service, it’s a very clean store. And there is a large inventory of gourmet items from around the world to satisfy even the well-seasoned gourmand. Don’t let the term “gourmet” scare you though; word is, they have some of the best prices among their competitors.
I also found that their variety of cheeses is more than adequate and also fairly priced for Manhattan. Some are even bargains.
The buffet has a pleasant assortment of dishes that vary from day to day. The food is good and hot, and the salads go beyond your typical fresh greens. I’ve sampled their fresh hummus, roasted chicken and potatoes, Swedish meatballs in sauce, and fresh homemade yogurts, among other things (everything $8.99 per pound). They know what they’re doing.
Working late, or on your way home, stop by after 8 p.m. when the salad and buffet are half-priced. Some might wonder if it’s a bargain because the food might be stale by this time, but it’s not. The dishes sell quite well and so they don’t sit long. It’s really just a smart and savvy practice of pricing things to sell by day’s end. I admire that practice over throwing away leftovers, or worse yet, selling them the next day, which Garden of Eden does not do.
Although it’s not shocking to know you can find some of the best loaves of bread in the United States in NYC, it’s handy to be able to find some really good ones for sale near my workplace. And finding a great-tasting self-serve buffet where I can get something good and hot to eat, to quickly take back to the office—that’s another convenience I enjoy.
Garden of Eden in Chelsea is located at 162 West 23rd Street. Their hours are Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
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