I Went All the Way to Forest Hills and All I Got Was This Lousy Peanut Butter Granola Bar
“We should’ve gone to New Jersey,” was one of the first things I heard after shoving my way into the new Queens Trader Joe’s. Ah, no truer words have ever been spoken by a stranger. (I rarely go in for message board posting and have yet to chime in on this egullet discussion, but I am a proud car-owning [well, car-owning household] New Yorker who chooses to go to New Jersey for food. Not so much for hidden gems as for chain restaurants and big box stores, which is why I haven’t gotten involved with the foodie back and forth.)
Where else can you pick up some chocolate-covered edamame and satiate all of your scrapbooking needs in the same shopping trip? Welcome to the borough's first Trader Joe's and Michaels Crafts.
I refused to believe James’s prediction that the latest Trader Joe’s addition would suck by virtue of being in NYC. It bummed me out that we missed opening weekend while in Beijing, but that also allowed two weeks for any initial crowds to die down. I don’t want to be negative all the time, so on the ride over I trying to justify how the Forest Hills location is so isolated (no subway access) that it would keep away the riff raff. Instead, it’d only be local curiosity seekers and intrepid yet misguided folks like us who should know better.
I was wrong. It was a nightmare. My photos don’t convey the crush, but the aisles were impenetrable. It was no less packed than my first and last Union Square TJ’s foray (and the paunchy, non-young employees here were most definitely not art students/candidates for American Apparel ads) Carts were pointless, though it didn’t stop people from trying to approximate normal shopping behavior anyway, creating irreparable traffic jams.
I wanted to grab four yogurts but couldn’t even get within arm’s reach of the shelf. I eyeballed a wedge of Cambozola yet was kept from it by a solid wall of zombies just standing and staring at the cheese case like they’d never seen dairy products before. The granola bar section never materialized at all, and settling on peanut butter bars from an end display instead of finding the sweet and salty ones I had my heart set on was the final straw. Plus, they didn’t carry Plugra butter like the New Jersey locations. And no, they don’t sell wine.
I could only be angry at myself for giving NYC the benefit of the doubt. The remedy for my gross miscalculation was to head up the street to Eddie’s Sweet Shop for a soothing hot fudge sundae.
New York does best when it sticks with what it knows; faded, old-timey ice cream parlors are a resounding success while facsimiles of quirky, low-priced faux gourmet chains are excruciatingly bad.
Trader Joe’s * 90-30 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills, NY (local press is calling this Rego Park, but that seems a bit off to me)
Sorry the trip was a bust. Was Michael’s better?
For sweet&salty PB bars, Nature’s Valley ones aren’t too bad, and you can get them at Duane Reade.
I still prefer the Trader Joe’s on Long Island even with the high price of gas. I’m sorry to see that the Queens store isn’t any better than Union Square. Union Square is the only TJ’s I’ve been to that has actually run OUT of stuff. Empty freezer cases! No peanut butter cups! FWIW, if you’re ever in Connecticut the Fairfield TJs on Black Rock Turnpike is fantastic.
Alison: I definitely won’t be back to the Queens Trader Joe’s any time soon. Where I’m at in Brooklyn is equidistant to the Hewlett, LI and Westfield, NJ locations, but I go to NJ because they sell wine. I don’t recall the Hewlett location having alcohol.
You got it wrong, The problem it’s not nyc, it’s that tader joe’s fucking sucks!!! I live in forest hills, I went there once (never again), bought some stuff just because I went there, and all the “organic” stuff I bought was crap. Organic maple syrup sweetened granola, had sugar as the second inbgredient, and maple syrup less than salt (salt is the standad to know if you are being bullshitted or not), same thing with the honey roasted cashews, hone less than salt, and sugar the second ingredient. Even the salted crackers had sugar!!. Don’t get me wrong, sugar is great, I just don’t want it in everything I eat.
If you want to buy good processed foods in Forest Hills, go to “natural” supermarket, on Austin Street. If you want to buy good produce, go to your local green market from april to november, or to union square all year round. More info on green markets http://www.cenyc.org
Alejandro: I do agree that Trader Joe’s seems to lull people into a false sense of health. A lot of their products are pseudo-organic and most of what they sell is just gussied-up snack food. And the produce is meh. But I do like shopping there from time to time–just not in NYC.