Wild Oats: Healthy and Tasty

Whole Foods: New Nooks and Aisles in a New Store

Wegmans: Dazzling Choices for Daring Palates

Acme: Chicken in a Bag

McCaffrey’s: Saving Kids from ‘Vegetable Medley’

SuperFresh: Slim Pickins for a Speedy Supper

ShopRite: Upscale and Kosher

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring, E. E. Whiting, Richard

K. Rein, and Barbara Fox were prepared for the October 20, 2004 issue

of

U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Dinner for Two, Aisle 10

Let’s face it, some of us have been feeding our families "fast food"

for decades. My adult children, who are now foodies and "slow food"

fans, remember many a family meal at Burger King, and the Oscar Mayer

jingle ("If I were an Oscar Meyer wiener, then, you would be in love

with me") has a sacred place in family lore, because hot dogs were our

standard Sunday meal. No leisurely Sunday pot roast for us. Just get

home from church, feed as quickly as possible, then collapse.

When we moved to Princeton, home of no drive-through fast food places,

I literally went through withdrawal but soon learned to substitute

pizza, Chinese takeout, and sushi for Whoppers and fries.

In the intervening years my definition of fast food changed, as my

nest emptied and my arteries hardened. I began to spend lots of time

squinting at the small print on food labels looking for the words

"hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" so as not to ingest any of

the dreaded trans fats.

Today my definition of "fast food" includes something I can buy,

prepare, and serve on autopilot in 20 minutes or less, 30 minutes if

you count going into the store to get it: Rotisserie chicken plus

frozen peas. Frozen shrimp, boiled, with frozen peas. Fresh fish

fillets and frozen peas. Spaghetti with bottled sauce, no peas. You

get the idea. It’s not gourmet but my husband likes peas and, unlike

lima beans, they cook quickly.

For more sophisticated options, I bypass the rotisserie chickens and

hover near the prepared food bins at the supermarket. The word "hover"

is correct, because there is no menu here. You have to cruise up and

down in front of the glass cases to decide. If each item is labeled

you have to scrunch down to read the label, and if it’s not, you may

have to ask about the ingredients. Butter? Margarine? Olive oil?

The successful purchase of a tasty take-out meal is not as challenging

as concocting Beef Wellington, but it’s no slam dunk either. What will

go with what? And how much to buy? If your eyes are bigger than your

family’s stomach, you will end up with a smidgen of this, a smidgen of

that, in little boxes that coagulate in the back of the fridge.

Along with several other U.S. 1 staffers, I set out to find some

"home-style" meals from the area’s largest super markets.

Acknowledging that restaurants and specialty food stores offer

delicious alternatives far beyond those found in supermarket, we have

confined our reporting to grocery stores for the purpose of this

story.

We went to McCaffrey’s and Wild Oats in Princeton, SuperFresh in

Plainsboro, Acme in Princeton Junction, Whole Foods at Windsor Green,

Wegmans at Nassau Park, and Shop Rite at the Mercer Mall. Sometimes we

"dined in," i.e. ate in the dining areas that the markets provide, and

sometimes we brought it home.

Top Of Page
Wild Oats: Healthy and Tasty

Wild Oats has long been my standard on-the-way home stop, a small

store, so I can zip in and zip out and not walk too far. Wild Oats

also passes the healthy test for heart diets. Unlike McCaffrey’s, it

labels the ingredients of the dishes, and it sells no food with trans

fats, so I can be sure I’m not buying the dreaded hydrogenated oils.

Over the years I have seen a big improvement in the taste of the

prepared food here. It’s not easy to cook food that is both healthy

and tasty, but now I have a quite a few favorites.

Wild Oats soups are delicious, not too salty. I talked to a young man

who works at Princeton University’s Engineering Quad in the checkout

line (his meal was salad, chicken noodle soup, and a big cookie) who

noted that Wawa’s soup was cheaper, "just over $1," he said, but "this

is more convenient. And it’s organic."

An attractive dining area fronts on Nassau Street, and my husband and

I have enjoyed soup and sandwiches there. The deli makes sandwiches to

order and you can order carrots juiced while you wait. You are on the

honor system to pay for your food before you eat it. Even when nobody

else is there, this is a cozy nook, with uber-health literature to

read while you eat and – the true sign of a real community – a

bulletin board festooned with business cards and flyers.

The nook is equipped with a microwave and toaster, but I draw the line

there. If I am going to have to heat my own food, I might as well go

home.

The hot bar has four choices and, along with the salad bar, it is

$5.99 a pound. Almost everything in the prepared food case is $5.99 or

$6.99 a pound, though entrees are higher.

On this occasion we bought two four-ounce pieces of grilled and

seasoned chicken breast (at $9.95 a pound this cost $4.20), small

servings of Punjabi cabbage and asiago pasta (green linguini with

cheese and pine nuts), plus full servings of blackened grilled

vegetables, including portabello mushrooms, carrots, and asparagus.

The store has its own bakery case of tarts and tortes that pass the

healthy test because they are made with butter, but our favorite is a

$4.95 packaged round cake in apple or berry flavors. Find it under the

bagel shelf.

In a store that caters to vegans, Wild Oats takes tofu seriously. One

shopper waxed enthusiastic about the mock egg salad. One of our

favorite dinners is the Wild Oats prepared salmon, which we eat cold,

plus the Wild Oats red potato salad and two plastic bags of baby

spinach that I throw in the pot at home. And, of course, the

rotisserie chickens, which cost $4.99 for a half, $8.99 for a whole.

You can’t just pop Wild Oats dishes into the microwave when you get

home because they are made of corn and will disintegrate. Shopping

"green" can be inconvenient but it sure is healthy.

Wild Oats Community Market, 255 Nassau Street, Princeton 08540.

609-924-4993; fax, 609-497-9198. Open weekdays and Saturday from 7:30

a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Top Of Page
Whole Foods: New Nooks and Aisles in a New Store

Whole Foods, the new girl in town, is holding court – as in food court

– at Windsor Green Shopping Center on Route 1 South. After several

visits I am still finding my way around and discovering new nooks and

aisles. On my last visit I found the short cut to the take-out section

– the door on the far left, where Zany Brainy used to be. It lets you

bypass the serious shoppers with their long lists. You pick up a cute

little cart, a hand basket on wheels that is less cumbersome than the

big carts, and you can really zip around, piling up goodies to take

home.

Virtually all the prepared food is on this side. The exceptions are

the seafood chowders ($2.99 for 12 ounces), peeled shrimp ($9.99 a

pound in various flavor, the olive bar, and the roasted chickens that

come in four flavors ($1.75 per pound or $7.94 for a whole).

On the prepared food side are other soups (avocado/corn was terrific,

8 ounces $2.79), a long salad bar at $6.99 a pound (with intriguing

entrees like shrimp pasta, southwest beef salad, and chili with tofu),

a long hot bar also at $6.99 a pound (with seafood Newburg pot pie,

Cuban pork loin, chicken vindaloo, naan, and tofu curry among the more

exotic dishes). Also you will find a bakery, long cases with items to

heat up when you get home, a sushi station, and sandwiches. (They

don’t make sandwiches to order here – you choose from a nice variety.)

We’ve had some really delicious food from here, and the rectangular

brick oven pizza priced at $6.99 per pound (the servers cut off

however many inches you need) is addictive. It’s also worth trekking

down to the chowder aisle, where on one visit we eavesdropped on the

chowder chef and a foodie discussing whether the shrimp gumbo ($2.99

for 8 ounces) needed more okra. (I decided to keep mum about my

opinion – that no dish can have too little of that disgusting

vegetable).

Twice we’ve enjoyed consuming our meal in the dining areas by the big

windows at the front of the store. We figured – why let it get cold –

and then have to heat it again. The booths and tables are clean, there

are flowers on the table, and you can bring your salad to the table in

a nice salad bowl, not those flimsy plastic boxes. The coffee bar and

the ice cream stand are conveniently near the checkout stands, quickie

versions of the regular ones.

Caution: It is easy to overspend on a per-pound meal here. On our last

trip to the salad and hot bars, the bill was $21 with a shared drink.

Even if your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach, you won’t know what

your cost is until you get to the checkout counter, and then it’s too

late.

Tip: for food that is ladled out to you from behind a counter, don’t

worry about the size of the container, think in terms of spoonfuls,

one per person.

On one occasion the Whole Food takeout was not a success – and for a

surprising reason. On this workday evening I left the office at 6:30

p.m., hungry and late, and headed for the chef’s station in the far

corner determined to make this simple and quick by buying platters.

The choices were turkey breast, salmon, and pork, all nicely seasoned,

plus prime rib of beef. An entree and two sides was $7.95, with the

prime rib costing $12.95. Delicious, I thought, ordering the beef and

the pork from the obliging, friendly chef. But both kinds of potatoes

were laced with cheese, which isn’t on our diets, so I chose from what

remained – roasted vegetables, carrots, wild rice with fruit, and

apple crisp. The total was $21 plus tax.

When I got home I discovered, alas, that each dish was so "complex"

(to borrow a foodie word) that they didn’t "work together." Too many

warring flavors. Next time I’ll pick just one dish, let it be the

star, and add the ubiquitous frozen peas.

– Barbara Fox

Whole Foods, 3495 Route 1 South, The Shops at Windsor Green, Princeton

08540. 609-799-2919; fax, 609-799-2918. Open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Top Of Page
Wegmans: Dazzling Choices for Daring Palates

Freeze Wegmans take-out department, preserve it for study, and

anthropologists would gain tremendous insight into 21st century

suburban life. Such variety! Such wealth! Such ignorance of the basics

of cooking! Surely, this is the preserve of busy, demanding people

with wide-ranging tastes, but little time to prepare – let alone grow

or capture – their own food.

Set completely apart from the far more pedestrian aisles of cereal

boxes and canned prunes, Wegmans’ take-out section is a visual

delight. A knockout from the start, the section continues to evolve. A

relatively extensive selection of Indian dishes, in their own separate

hot serving station, sits near the huge Chinese food station. A

dessert case stands between check-out counters specially designed to

serve take-out and eat-in customers, and there is even a cookie bar.

The choices are dazzling.

The first fast dinner option that is likely to grab shoppers’

attention is staffed by a trio of employees in chef’s garb. Straight

ahead of anyone entering by the separate take-out door, it features

full dinners. Entrees sit front and center, keeping warm in gleaming

serving dishes. The format involves choosing an entree and two side

dishes, which revolve with the seasons. Up now is Oktoberfest, and all

but one dinner (cold smoked salmon at $11.99) is German. Choices

include chicken schnitzel, German wurst, herb roast pork with red

cabbage, and sauerbraten. The first two are priced at $9.99 and the

second two at $10.99. Side dishes include apple and red cabbage salad,

carrots and beets, German potato salad, and autumn vegetables. Three

kinds of soup in three sizes are also available at this station.

The full dinner option takes all thinking out of dinner preparation.

Served in a sturdy black plastic plate with compartments for each meal

component, the dinner can easily be taken home for microwaving, or

carried upstairs to be eaten while it’s still hot. Two gentleman in

dark gray suits chose the roast pork option on a recent Wednesday

evening, and were given substantial portions. Instead of taking the

elevator to the second floor dining room, they walked the few steps to

Wegmans attached liquor store for a meal accompaniment before heading

to the parking lot with their fully-assembled dinner.

For those willing to mix and match on their own, staggering choices

await right around the corner. Whether a family’s food preferences run

to light vegetarian or hearty home style, fish or meat, fried or

broiled, there truly is something for everyone. Gorgeous thin potato

pancakes, the size of a 78 record, are $2.99. Asian tofu, extra firm

in chin sauce, is $6.49 a pound. Mushroom strudel, made of wild

mushrooms, spinach, and herbs, with an Asiago-dusted crust, is $5.98 a

pound.

There is more, much, much more. And all of it comes with instructions

for home re-heating. Each and every dish is labeled with a suggested

oven or microwave time. For chicken French, it’s "microwave on high

for 2-3 minutes," and for the fried chicken, it’s "10-20 minutes in a

325 degree oven."

Okay, so you know how long to cook it, but how about assistance in

deciding how much to buy? Wegmans gives you that too, and throws in

help with the math. Lobster salad is $29.99 a pound, and a helpful

sign indicates that three ounces, a single serving, would come to

$5.62. Choose the grilled colossal sea scallops, which could not

possibly look more fabulous, at $18.99 a pound,a three ounce serving

is $3.56.

As if all of this help is not enough, the supermarket provides even

more guidance in its "Meals Made Easy" signage. While the cooking

instructions and single serving pricing are a big help, one has to

wonder if it isn’t a tad depressing to have to refer to a large sign

to determine that a meal possibility exists in a pairing of meat loaf

with mashed potatoes and green beans. Are we really that fried after a

day at work?

Well, maybe so.

No matter. If anyone needs help in assembling the evening meal,

Wegmans is here to assist. There is a substantial sushi counter, a

long salad bar full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and grain dishes in

all their varieties, a hot wing bar, a pizza station (now with thin

crust pizza in addition to the doughy stuff the Rochester, New

York-based store offered when it opened), and a popular hoagie shop.

There are also cases full of meat or fish and vegetable pairings in

microwave dishes. But the most active area of the take-out section,

night after night, is the Chinese food section.

That is where I ended up. Yes, I considered the schnitzel and eyed the

tandoori tofu. With the first chill of fall in the air, I gave the

meatloaf and mashed potatoes the once over. But in the end, I joined

the moms and kids ("Watch what you’re putting on your plate! They

weigh it!"), and the couples fresh from work – a weary-looking bunch,

I must say – and circled the Chinese hot station.

I settled on salt and pepper mussels, shrimp in black bean sauce,

chicken and broccoli, lemon chicken, steamed ginger fish, and ribs.

And then I nipped over to the Indian food station for some tandoori

chicken.

At first I arranged food on a plastic plate with four compartments,

but an employee told me that the plates don’t have covers; apparently

they are only for in-store diners. So, I divided up the meals in white

styrofoam containers. I am happy with lukewarm food, but the spouse

insists on piping hot dinners, and popped everything into the

microwave. He quickly pronounced the mussels "excellent" and the

ginger fish "to die for." The ribs were fine too, as was the shrimp.

The $18.75 take-out dinner yielded substantial leftovers – more than

enough for another dinner.

Will the anthropologists be able to tell that, despite all the rushing

around, we are deeply grateful for a lifestyle that affords us the

luxury of choice, the fun of sampling food from other cultures

(mangled though our interpretations might be), and the ease of having

someone else do the cooking?

Wegmans, 240 Nassau Park Boulevard. 609-919-9300; fax, 609-919-9393.

Open daily, 6 a.m. to midnight. Hot foods are open until 9 p.m., (10

p.m. on Saturdays, chef’s station until 8:30 p.m. (9 on Saturdays).

– Kathleen McGinn Spring

Top Of Page
Acme: Chicken in a Bag

The Acme on Princeton Hightstown Road obviously knows that consumers

are keen on the convenience of carting home a ready-to-eat dinner, but

the store, far smaller than the supermarkets now being built, was just

not designed for elaborate take-out or for in-store dining.

A poster behind the store’s deli counter features snappy depictions of

chefs on the move and reads "Easy on the Go Dining!" But the only sign

of such a service is a collection of brown shopping bags that sit

ready to be filled with a chicken dinner. The "Carry Out Cuisine"

features a picture of a cartoon chef, whose body is a clock, and whose

motion full speed ahead. The carry out dinner offered consists of

eight pieces of fried chicken, a big serving of potato logs, and an

eight-pack of little soft rolls. The price is $8.99.

While gourmet take-out dinners is not on this Acme’s menu, the

conveniently-located store does cater to anyone looking for a pleasant

breakfast spot – or a rest during a hectic day. The Starbucks outlet

at the front of the store serves up the upscale coffee, along with a

selection of pastries. There are four tables inside (in the shadow of

a big display of Krispy Kreme donuts) and four tables outside next to

the seasonal flowers.

Acme Markets, 64 Princeton-Hightstown Road, Princeton Junction 08550.

609-452-2354; fax, 609-452-1421. Open daily Monday through Saturday

from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. Rotisserie

chickens located next to the salad bar, which closes at 7 p.m.

Top Of Page
McCaffrey’s: Saving Kids from ‘Vegetable Medley’

If you think that gourmet supermarket takeout is the salvation solely

of busy professional couples think again: Here is the saga of a single

father and his two young male children, saved from the dreary routine

of bachelor cooking by the takeout section at McCaffrey’s at Princeton

Shopping Center.

But before we sing the praises of the supermarket fare, consider the

dreariness of that Bachelors III cuisine. It’s not a pretty picture.

One time, shortly after my entry into the single father pool, I found

myself in a small group of cheery housewives, all waiting for their

children at Community Park Elementary School in Princeton. The

housewives were engrossed in conversation. I – as the out-of-place

single father – invisible on the sideline. Just for fun, I cleared my

throat and attempted to enter the conversation:

"I just had an idea," I announced to the group. "Why don’t we all

bring in our favorite recipes and collect them in a Community Park

recipe book. We could sell it as a fundraiser." The cheery housewives

turned silent. A few looked the other way. You could feel these

seasoned domestic engineers considering this concept: What’s he going

to contribute – microwave macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and canned

baked beans?

Finally one of them responded: She didn’t actually have any recipes,

she explained, noting that most busy women today improvise, cooking up

a meal based on what’s in the fridge or pantry, how much time they

have, and who will be at home to eat it. With that the cookbook idea –

and the conversation – was dead.

Truth to tell we at Bachelors III, as I refer to my two boys and

myself, do slightly better than Stauffer’s mac and cheese. But even a

steady diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole wheat pasta, and

low-fat meat and poultry is still a steady and soon boring diet. And

so, on a night when we might have come back from our weekly shopping

expedition to a dinner of baked chicken breast and Dad’s famous

vegetable medley (steamed carrots, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, onions,

and whatever, served with nonfat sour cream), we instead finished our

supermarket visit at the gourmet takeout counter. Here’s what was on

the Bachelors III menu that night:

Shrimp scampi (at $15.99 a pound, we didn’t buy a huge amount, but

enough to satisfy one 12-year-old plus give both the other bachelors a

taste). Cost: $3.84.

Linguine with clam sauce (a big hit, since my idea of pasta is just

plain pasta, spiced up by a little olive oil or Cardini’s Caesar

dressing). $2.50.

Broccoli and penne (we eat enough broccoli to keep the elder George

Bush far away, so the tasty penne was another hit at Bachelors III).

$1.64.

Lima beans and prosciutto (I have been threatening to replace the

Brussel sprouts on our regular menu with lima beans, so this was a

good taste test. I liked them. Neither of the boys would touch them).

$3.15.

Carrots and asparagus tips (every once in a while I try to cook

asparagus and I can’t get it right – this was right). $1.80.

Sliced turkey breast (at $9.99 a pound, I had a hard time buying the

one thing that I could have cooked at home at a fraction of the price.

But the 10-year-old, the fussy eater who has literally pushed certain

types of chocolate away from his mouth, wanted to make sure there was

at least one thing that he would like.) $3.

Macaroni and cheese and chicken wings (the choice of the 10-year-old,

naturally, who gave the McCaffrey rendition of the mac & cheese the

same rating he used to give Stouffer’s – he cleaned his plate) $3.89.

Other choices in this section, called the self serve hot bar, all

priced at an economical $4.99 a pound, include breaded chicken breast,

potatoes au gratin, sausage and peppers, fried flounder, salisbury

steak, and chicken diablo – nothing you would ever find in the

Bachelors III recipe book. Elsewhere in the store, meals-to-go include

meatloaf with green beans and cheddar-baked potato, $5.24; Bourbon BBQ

flank steak with green beans and Spanish rice, $9.79; chicken with

apples and sage, plus green beans and rice, $6.39; Cobb salad, $4.91;

and a family entree, turkey with stuffing and gravy, priced at $9.92

for 1.4 pounds.

So for a grand total of $19.82 – plus beverages that we already had on

hand – Bachelors III had more than enough food for a midweek dinner

that had to be over quickly enough for homework and a dose of the

baseball playoffs.

And I brought the leftovers into the office for lunch the next day – I

was even able to re-use the containers. That’s a plus for bachelor

cooks, who are more likely to find a matching pair of socks than a

Tupperware top that actually fits the Tupperware container.

Would we go back again to the supermarket takeout counter? Not every

night and maybe not even every week. But you bet that it will take its

place alongside the traditional restaurant options that are available

to families with pre-teen children. And if anyone ever asks me to

participate in a working parents’ cookbook, I will surely have a

recipe to share – provided the supermarket shares it with me.

– Richard K. Rein

McCaffrey’s, 301 North Harrison Street, Princeton Shopping Center.

609-683-1600. Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and

from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m on Sunday.

Top Of Page
SuperFresh: Slim Pickins for a Speedy Supper

Harried commuters flying off Exit 8A at 80 miles an hour and wanting

to slide into the SuperFresh at Schalks Crossing Road in Plainsboro

for a premium "homemade" supper will be stopped in their tracks at the

slim pickings, at least at 6:30 p.m. on one recent Tuesday. The store

has the obligatory Four Ss: salad, soup, sandwiches, and sushi plus a

purported pasta bar but this hungry hunter saw precious little of any.

The salad bar was ordinary in its offerings of lettuces, fake seafood

salad, tuna, pasta salad, marinated tomatoes, chickpeas, green veggies

and assorted other edibles. However, the offerings were tired looking

and dry, the impression being that no one came by very often to

freshen the containers. While there were kettles for two soup

offerings, there was only one available by the time I arrived.

The pasta bar advertised hot entrees of several varieties of noodle

dishes but it had been closed long before I drove up and the bar was

cold and dark. Near the deli was a sign offering "handmade"

sandwiches. I briefly considered what the alternative was to hands,

but decided I didn’t want to pursue that line of thinking on an empty

stomach. A couple of pre-made hoagies were in the cooler but again

they looked pretty peaked. The sushi was standard fare -nothing to

catch my fancy there.

The ultimate disappointment was no rotisserie chicken, staple of

suburban supper tables. After an hour and a half’s odyssey along the

NJ Turnpike dodging Hummers hungry for my tasty little Acura, not

finding Old Reliable was a serious blow. Was I so late that the rest

of America was snugly tucking into fresh salad and pasta long before I

exited the highway and the store managers assumed there would be no

further wayfarers?

SuperFresh does indeed have fine produce and an excellent fish and

meat department. Doing weekly shopping is efficient, for the most

part. The range of staples and international foods is ample and

growing. All the ingredients are there for gourmet meals. Many dinner

parties have been provisioned from there but the sense is that

take-home meals are not part of their marketing plan, despite the

peripatetic population that drives by its doors daily.

At the end of a long day and a longer commute, having the option of

faking a meal that would make Mom proud is attractive. The option of

battling Route 1 traffic to Wegmans and back is not. Looks like cereal

again tonight.

– E.E. Whiting

Super Fresh, 10 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro Plaza. 609-378-0226.

Open daily 24 hours. New closing time of 3 p.m. for the steam table

and Chinese food, and the salad bar closes at 7 p.m.

Top Of Page
ShopRite: Upscale and Kosher

The new ShopRite in the Mercer Mall has built itself a unique

supermarket take-out niche – at least one that is unique in our area.

At the front of the store there is a large Kosher department. Yes,

other stores offer Kosher products, but the ShopRite Kosher section

includes a good selection of ready-to-eat, fully assembled dinners –

many of them Chinese.

Included in take-out offerings are roasted potatoes, buffalo wings,

sweet and sour chicken, and lemon pepper chicken breast with rice.

Prices are low, with most dishes coming in under $6. In addition,

there are lots of kinds of knishes and bourekas – and seven different

varieties of kugel.

Walking from the Kosher counter way, way back to the main take-out

area in the back of the store entails a delightful walk through

ShopRite’s impressive international aisles. Shelf after shelf is

devoted to Chinese, Mexican, and Polish food – as well as more Kosher

food, both in boxes and cans and in freezer cases. It is a reminder of

the rich variety we enjoy in central New Jersey, not only in food, but

also in our neighbors.

After reaching the back of the store, hang left for the majority of

take-out areas. There is a large Chinese section – Wok Empire – a

pizza station, and sushi. A signature ShopRite section is called

"Caribbean Grill." It features everything from three-packs of

cheeseburgers ($3.99) to pan seared chicken breast in chive supreme

sauce ($7.99). Other selections include turkey London broil au jus

($7.40), Cajun shrimp ($14.99 a pound), and crabmeat stuffed chicken

($6.99).

Another popular ShopRite take-out section features grilled ribeye

steaks sizzling in a hot station alongside "fixings," including

sauteed mushrooms, onions, creamed spinach, and strips of bacon. Also

in this area are a variety of hot dishes, including chicken Parmesan,

sausage with peppers, top beef sirloin with gravy, braised beef short

ribs, lobster mashed potatoes, and basmati rice. The format is load

what you will into microwave dishes at a cost of $6.59 a pound.

In store dining is also an option. There is a small eating area right

next to the take out area.

While many of ShopRite’s dinner options are geared for downhome-type

eating, the store is full of upscale surprises. I counted 11 different

kinds of mozzarella balls in one of its cold bars, and a nearby

section, called the Mediterranean Bar, is chock full of stuffed grape

leaves, seven-grain salad, wheat berry orzo, and the like.

This is a fun supermarket to explore, but there is a caveat for those

exhausted souls in search of a quick, hot meal after a long day at the

office. When I stopped by at 7:20 p.m., the Wok Empire was totally

closed up (it closes at 6 p.m.), and the other hot food stations were

obviously slowing down, with only a few items left.

– Kathleen McGinn Spring

ShopRite of Lawrenceville, Mercer Mall, Lawrenceville 08648.

609-275-8555; Open daily from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.


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