"Duane Reade opens new Chelsea store location featuring expanded fresh food and grocery offerings!" trumpeted the press release. "It features a greater emphasis on fresh foods, locally-sourced grocery items and on-the-go coffees and meals designed to appeal to the young and active habitué of the neighborhood."
Okay, that's a pretty breathless endorsement of a Duane Reade. Gothamist already took a shot at it—and sure, we rolled our eyes a bit, too. But in truth, there's a lot more than we expected.
Things you've never seen at Duane Reade before? Just check out the photo up top. Patsy's pasta, Jules deStrooper biscuits, Eli Zabar's bread, Citterio prosciutto.
I know few stores short of Whole Foods with this sort of Kashi selection.
Sure, the produce section was a little, er, lacking. (And bagged.)
But there is a fair roster of local favorites: Rao's pasta sauce, Patsy's pasta, and two particular favorites of ours—Ronnybrook milk and Siggi's skyr (like an Icelandic yogurt).
Baked goods, from the Bakery Boys of New York and Eli Zabar's. There's a self-serve Starbucks coffee machine, whose coffee tastes like, well, Starbucks drip coffee.
And there's a wide selection of prepared foods, from sandwiches to sushi to fruit salads. There are a number of Eli Zabar's breads and sandwiches. This caprese-style sandwich, though perhaps not worth $5.99, was on slightly crispy bread with reasonably milky mozzarella. The tomatoes were somewhat wan and mealy, but this is a Duane Reade sandwich.
Prices may be New York high—the scale you'd expect at your local Gristedes. Still, the layout is better, the aisles are wider, and, produce aside, the selection is as good as your average urban grocery store. For those in the neighborhood, it's not a bad bet.
127 Eighth Avenue, New York NY 10011 (map) 212-929-0650