Review: Whole Foods

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Whole Foods (The Pearl location)
1210 NW Couch Street
Portland, OR
503-525-4343
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OK, I’m all for healthy eating and stuff, but I do have some standards: I won’t eat it if it doesn’t taste good. I think I know what tastes good, healthy and not-so-healthy.

Yes, Whole Foods is a supermarket chain, but I just had to write this review. In the Pearl, the Whole Foods supermarket seems to be a popular lunch place-the tables and lunch bar always seem to be full, but, after several tries, I have no idea why.

Sure, they have an extensive array of ready-to-eat options, including pizza, a salad bar and sandwiches, etc. But, here’s my short review: unless you are in a huge hurry, skip it!

Yes, kids, it’s not worth spending $10 for a salad that tastes like crap.

What’s wrong with Whole Foods is that it seems they feel like they can mark up prices because they feed into that “green” image. Seriously, I’ve had better food at the ready-to-eat counter at my local Safeway, even a convenience store!

I also have a problem with their prices. The salad bar is $7.99 a pound, but how the heck do you check to see how much it’s going to ring up for at the cash register? I made my own salad the last time I had lunch there, and it ended up almost $10, and then I decided that it tasted pretty bad-so I didn’t even get close to eating half. Now, I am not against salad bars. In fact, when the Lunch Lady lived in Washington, DC, she would trek all the way out to the Harris Teeter grocery store in Arlington, Virginia, just for the salad bar.

The Whole Foods salad bar is plentiful, offering several different types of greens, pre-mixed salad options, a good variety of vegetable and fruit, a couple of meat options, tuna salad, cheeses, salad topping and dressings. They also offer some pasta salads, macaroni and cheese, lasagna, pasta salads and a variety of “global” dishes. But, remember, if you want to nosh on the heavier items, you’re going be paying more for it. They should really put a scale out there so you don’t accidentally go over your lunch budget.

As for the ready-to-eat options, their signature sandwiches start at around $6.00 and go up from there. A pre-made sandwich, the ones wrapped in cling wrap, will run you the same, but they look pretty close to what you can get at a 7-11. The pizza looks OK, but there are much better places in town to fill your pizza needs-Rocco’s is really just steps away and a much better option!

My least favorite thing about Whole Foods is easily the seating. If you are planning to eat-in, check to see if there is any good seating. Sitting at the lunch bar is a total pain in the ass, to say the least. The seating at the lunch bar is just awkward and uncomfortable. It’s elbow to elbow and you don’t get enough room if you have a large plate.

Overall, I think my problem with the food is that it’s too bland and too expensive for what you get. There are so many options in the Pearl, so why bother with Whole Foods?

In fantastic news, there will soon be a new addition to Pearl lunchtime options. I just got an email from the owner of the coming-soon Mercato (at NW 9th and Couch), and they are planning to open as soon as they are done with inspections! I can’t wait to check it out.

Pros: The pizza looks OK to try, good veggie and vegan options, you can get your grocery shopping done at the same time, get your food to-go

Cons: The ready-to-eat items and salad bar seem overpriced, seating totally sucks!

Download the sandwich menu

7 thoughts on “Review: Whole Foods”

  1. Thank you for bringing up the fact that there is no scale anywhere to be found at any wholefoods hotbar. I live in Arlington and they just opened their renovated hotbar and it lacks a scale. every time I ask the customer service counter, they give me a blank stare and say the scale is at the cash register (where you feel pressure to pay the surprise $15 for the $5 salad you wanted to buy) I think it is some scum capitolist marketing whiz that decided its better to guilt the extra money out of a customer than to let the customer have control over what they want to spend. I never purchase anything from the hot bar because I cant figure out the cost before hand. Im sure wholefoods would get a scale if it hurt their profits when people either quit buying from the hot food lottery or they leave the food at the cash register when the surprise price is revealed.

  2. how are you supposed to reduce the weight of your food at the hot bar without dumping some of it back into the pan from where it came? that is just nasty! then you would complain about how disgusting the hot bar is. maybe you should stick with fast food instead of freshly prepared quality ingredients

  3. Really, as long as you stick to lighter (physically, not nutritionally) options like leafy greens, I think you should be at or under a pound. The problem is that most people don’t have any clue what a portion size really looks like.

    And as for the comment about the sandwiches looking “pretty close to what you can get at a 7-11” … well, yes, all sandwiches look similar. The difference between whole foods and 7-11 is the ingredients. Now, if you don’t mind eating the crap they put into 7-11 sandwiches, by all means…

  4. Be wary of writing a check at Whole Foods-if you want to return something and you wrote a check for it, you have to wait THREE WEEKS to get your money back. Other stores in Portland – like New Seasons and Trader Joes – will give you your money back right away. Whole Foods is a ripoff in many ways.

  5. Complaint against Ken Chef and Emily Manager
    Tuesday June 22 2010 12noon
    Lakeland 3300 N. Ashland Ave Chicago, IL 60657 773.244.4200
    Hello I am a loyal customer at Whole Foods. I usually spend about $150 every 2 weeks in groceries there. This was my first time visiting this particular location and I am appalled by the way I was treated.
    1) The sandwiches in the deli department looked stale and spoiled. The bread looked hard and the cheese and meat looked hard.
    2) When I asked to sample a sandwich your Chef Ken was rude and refused to allow me to taste the sandwich.
    3) The manager Emily was pretentious. She said the sandwiches are not samples and the entire time I was in the store she followed me around.
    4) I feel victimized because the manager Emily stalked and watched my every move as if I was going to steal something. She made me feel very uncomfortable and harassed.
    5) Maybe I should feel grateful that Emily saved me approximately $150 because she prevented me from completing my shopping for the week. I felt like she wanted me to leave, therefore I felt compelled to take my business elsewhere.
    6) Is it Whole Foods policy to not give out samples, stalk customers and treat them like common criminals?
    I was walking through the deli area and a chef (Ken according to his name tag) was standing behind a table holding a huge knife that had 2 “exposed” subs on it. The subs had no wrapping, plastic or anything they were just sitting on a cutting board uncovered.
    When I saw them I thought that’s not very sanitary. I requested to taste the sub that had meat. I wanted to taste the sub before buying it because it looked dried out and stale. It was only 12 noon and I thought it was odd that the sub would look spoiled that early in the day.
    That’s when Ken said, “I don’t have any samples they are all gone.”
    I have never experienced this at any other Whole Foods. I went to customer service and asked the employee about the store refusing to give customers samples. The employee said he had never heard of that before. That’s when Emily (according to her name tag) ran up to me and said the store just started a new program today called “subs to go”. I thought what a coincidence.
    Then I asked her what does that have to do with the chef refusing to give me a sample? She said the subs are not there for samples? Also the entire time I was in the store the manager Emily was following me. I ended up leaving without buying anything and had to go to one of your competitors to buy groceries. Usually my shopping experience at Whole Foods is very pleasant but this specific location is terrible when it comes to customer service. I will never shop at Whole Foods again.

    That’s when I decided to buy a bottle of carrot juice and leave. When I saw the price of the carrot juice I literally almost pasted out. They were selling 1/2 gallon of Odawalla carrot juice for $9.99. At Jewel Osco and Dominick’s it sells for $6.99.
    Also the entire time I was in the store the manager Emily was following me. I ended up leaving without buying anything and had to go to one of your competitors to buy groceries. Usually my shopping experience at Whole Foods is very pleasant but this specific location is terrible when it comes to customer service. I will never shop at Whole Foods again.
    This store is tiny, overpriced and their attitude is “we aint giving away anything for free”. I have never been treated so poorly. It’s bad enough they price gauge but then they treat their customers like common criminals. I will never spend another penny at Whole Foods.
    Rodent infestation at Whole Foods in Lincoln Park
    July 9, 2008 by Matthew McClure
    Thinking about picking up pecan encrusted salmon cakes from Whole Foods in Lincoln Park on your way home tonight? Think again. The Chicago Department of Health shut down the store this afternoon after discovering a rodent infestation. “More than 100 [mouse] droppings” were found in one cooler, according to a Crain’s article.

  6. White Plains, NY and Columbus Circle:

    I have shopped at numerous “Whole Foods Markets” and you would think that at their price point they would invest in training their employees in Customer Service. The last two stores that I have had pretty awful service in were the ones mentioned above. I am talking about serious “ATTITUDE”…employees who look right at you and then continue their conversation as if you’re not there…employees who are clearly bothered when asked to get a product, employees who don’t speak english, and an overall unfriendliness! Whoever is managing these stores is not doing their job. Perhaps they feel that they’re beyond reproach because they don’t have competition. That could change and when it does, I’ll be there.

  7. Every time I have gotten a pre made cold cut sandwich from there… there has been a problem with it. 1st – my turket tasted like it was dropped and there was gritty sand in it 2nd – My roastbeef had a huge long black hair I pulled out of it. Plus, everyone who shops there walks around like zombies.

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