Episode 44 – Saks Food Hall by Pusateri’s


Saks Food Hall by Pusateri’s is Saks Fifth Avenue‘s first food hall that just opened in the beginning of March 2016 at CF Sherway Gardens.  Pusateri’s Fine Foods is an upscale grocery store that’s been around since 1963.  Saks Fifth Avenue is an upscale department store that’s been around since 1924 and just opened its’ first Toronto store in February 2016.  Apparently department stores back in the ’50s-’80s in Canada had food halls in them, but have since gone defunct.  Let’s take a look at this potential revival!

The Décor

First off, I just have to compliment Pusateri’s on the job they did on making the entire food hall look simply beautiful.  On my first visit to the Saks at Eaton Centre, the first thing I noticed was the ridiculously beautiful, clean, and well-spaced everything was.  I mention the spacing because there’s a marked difference between what Saks does and what their owner Hudson’s Bay does with their The Bay line.  In a 6 foot wide display case where 20-30 items might be shown at a Bay or Wal-Mart, there will only be 4-6 items at most on display at Saks.  It really gives each product room to breathe.  That being said… I simply can’t afford or justify spending the kind of money that each item is listed for.  We’re taking $90 plain t-shirts, $900 vests, $4000 purses, that kinda stuff.

However, it was really nice to see that Pusateri’s held up their end of the bargain and kept their food hall (located on the lower floor) just as pristine as the Saks department store.  The first thing you’ll notice going down the escalator is that it doesn’t take up the entire lower floor.  This isn’t a huge deal though, since the amount of space located for the food hall is still an incredible 18 500 square feet!  As you step down you’ll notice a fully stocked bar where you can enjoy some champagne or wine, a few steps further is a fully stocked produce section.  To your right is a half-floor full of Saks department store items (I believe men’s clothing was available here).  If you continue perusing the food hall you’ll pass by walls of olive oil, balsamic vinaigrettes, a prosciutteria where you can get freshly sliced prosciutto, capicollo, or other cured meats, and many more traditional grocery options.  There’s also a Nutella cafe serving some neat breakfast style foods all made with everyone’s favourite spread.  Across the cafe is a fresh sushi bar, and near the cashiers at the back there is a very large hot food section serving paninis, pastas, salads, and things like steak sandwiches, lobster rolls, and more.

It was basically just huge, and really well organized.  I’ve never been to the Pusateri’s locations in Toronto, but if they’re anything like this, they must be a treat to visit.  I gotta make it my duty to stop into one!

 

The Food

Berry Breakfast Bread with Nutella ($5)

Beautiful presentation.  Nice selection of fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and grapes.  It was made to order, right in front of my eyes, which I appreciated!  The bread is soft, perhaps a little too much so, but the exterior has a nice toasted texture.  The actual flavour of the bread is fairly subdued with its sweetness, I would argue it was slightly tart from the blueberry flavour but it actually was complemented perfectly by the Nutella that’s drizzled on top.  A marriage meant to be!  The fresh berries are very refreshing.

9/10

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Lobster Crunch Roll ($15) – cuban lobster tail, spicy mayo, pickled onion, tangy slaw, toasted sandwich roll

The bread was disappointing, kinda bland and too tough.  I think a bread for a lobster roll should be nice and soft.  The lobster though was awesome.  It had a nice spice and batter on it.  Great flavour.  The slaw, pickled onions and spicy mayo were great, adding some tangy zip to the light heat provided by the lobster pieces.  I’d say the portion of lobster was quite sizable which I applaud!  The pricy of $15 for JUST this roll though may be a bit steep.

8.5/10

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Berkshire Prosciutto from Pingue Prosciutto (Niagara Food Specialties) ($8 something/100 g)

If you’re a fan of cured meats and prosciutto, this is a hit!  Tasted so fresh with a nice flavour.  Perfect salt level, and the texture was melt in your mouth smooth.

9.5/10

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Zesty Orange Sipp Organic Soda ($12.99/4 pack) — blood orange, lime, jalapeño

I’m a soda freak.  I love trying sodas I haven’t tried before, and I haven’t tried this exclusive to Pusateri’s brand of soda yet.  This is REALLY refreshing.  I’d say the lime and blood orange flavours are more pronounced, while the jalapeño gives a nice subtle aftertaste heat.  It reminds me of a less spicy, citrusy version of the Just Craft Soda Peach & Habanero soda!  Pricey at over $3 a bottle, but great stuff.

9/10

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The Saks Food Hall by Pusateri’s is worth a visit.  I’m not going to tell you that the prepared food is going to blow you away, but it’s worth a visit to see the kind of work put into making what’s basically a high-end grocery store look simply fantastic.  I’ll admit it’s an odd marriage to see a super upscale department store house an upscale (yet still affordable) grocery store underneath.  I think their target markets might actually be different, but maybe that’s just me!  Stop in for the prosciutto, and maybe relax to a berry breakfast bread with Nutella, an espresso and a glass of champagne.

-Tang

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