What makes Whole Foods a serious foodie destination versus just another “foofoo yuppie” grocery store? This store is a serious homage to all the latest food trends, and it embraces the local and organic movement. Just like the rest of the Whole Foods chain stores, you will find a very serious selection of organic and locally grown produce, hand crafted foods, and high-end center store items. The key differences at this store reside in the perimeter of the store, mainly their Beehive Tea Market, Coffee Station, Back Bay Tavern and their fresh craft food stations.
If you are looking for something a little more “adult,” the beehive also offers some alcohol-infused tea drinks and several draft craft beers. Attached to the beehive is their outdoor patio, complete with over sized patio chairs, sofas and a fire pit. The manager confirmed that you are allowed to purchase alcohol in the store and drink it on their patio. Here is what I imagined: ordering some refreshing tea drinks, picking up a bottle of wine, chocolate and cheese from the store, and enjoying a picnic on their spacious patio.
Back Bay Brewery
Probably the crown jewel of the Whole Foods store — what other grocery store has a gastropub? This restaurant has a rich focus on food, micro-craft beer and wine, as well as a stylized subtle throwback to prohibition era Harlem. The look of prohibition era Harlem isn’t obvious, but more subtle with exposed brickwork, slightly industrial pendulum lights that are dressed with yellow glass, and the center piece: a solid mahogany bar taken from an old-school pub in Harlem that dates back to the 1920’s. The details are pretty complete, with hex tiles and clear stained wood furniture that allows the natural grain in the wood to add to the ambiance of the gastropub. This was one of the best decoration jobs I have seen in a while.
The food was more impressive. The dishes were simple comfort foods with a naughty edge, just like a Kansas girl going to Vegas for a bachelorette party. The menu featured about 15 main course items, five appetizers and five salads. I was able to try most of them, here are my assessments:
In addition to the food, they featured a very impressive selection of draft micro-craft brews, many from local breweries. Some of the better beers that I noticed included Allagash Brewing (Portland), Ballast Point (San Diego), The Bruery (Orange County), and Bootleggers (Orange County). The wine list was also pretty impressive, and featured a variety of price points. Some wines that stood out included a buttery Chardonnay by Rombauer and Hitching Post Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara.
My Final Thoughts
This was a very impressive new Whole Foods in Newport Beach that was able to impress quite a few foodies who attended their media sneak-peek preview. I was very impressed by Whole Foods’ strong commitment to its Global Animal Partnership, locally produced food, organic materials, and sustainability. These practices are engrained in the set up and practices of the store, making it easy for customers to be a part of these practices. Whole Foods did an amazing job with this store and made it a foodie destination with shopping, a restaurant and bar. I know I will be back, you just might see me on the patio with a bottle of wine and stinky cheese!
Check out the awesome frozen food items at Whole Foods reviewed by Dani’s Decadent Deals: