Sunday, November 9, 2008

Epicure Market - Sunny Isles Beach

So with the Rascal House all but demolished, the National Deli Corporation took the failed Rascal House location and expanded their premier gourmet supermarket to it's second location in Sunny Isles Beach. How does the new location stack up to the original and more importantly, how does it compare to other gourmet supermarkets? With the advent of chains Whole Foods, Fresh market, and even local player, Gardener's Market, Can Epicure stand atop the crowd?

Epicure has a long fabled history in South Florida. Originally opening in 1945, the market has been a Miami Beach staple for high end prepared food and Jewish style appetizers. This includes, wine, cheese, deserts, and their own line of frozen foods. They are best known for their take out and legendary soups. Their Matzo Ball soup is still one of the best around. Their high end flair has catered to the rich and famous as well as the average Joe.

The new location is a beautiful site and has been completely renovated. It is nearly twice the size of the original Alton Road location. As you walk in you see the endless take out display counter, and aisles of gourmet stuff. First stop was the cold appetizers, where I was offered to sample anything in the case I desired. I tried the "World Famous" tuna which was pretty darn good but lacked a little something crunchy. Next was the chopped liver. Boy, that was good, in fact world class. A brief examination of the smoked fish and cream cheeses appeared to look top quality as well. Next was the hot case, where you can buy everything from baby back ribs to stuffed salmon. The case looked good enough for a picture in a food catalog. The seafood case contained Colossal Stone Crab Claws, and Jumbo Shrimps among several other seafood based salads. Their other fish looked to be all fresh and top end. I took a walk through their wine selection and found it to be overpriced and inadequate. The fresh fruit looked as if each piece of fruit and vegetable had been waxed and sealed for a portrait, they could not have a better presentation.

So the place is beautiful, it has high end delicious food, what is the problem? The pricing. This place has the same problem they did when they owned the Rascal House. Their prices are just not competitive and are plain over priced. When National Deli took over the Rascal house the first thing they did was jack up the prices. Next they downsized the portions. Finally they began cutting the "freebies" that were standard table fare. Why do I mention this? Because as good as Epicure is, most items are not worth the money they charge. With the exception of certain "Old School" Jewish Style items such as the soups, Borscht, and Kasha Vanashkas, I don't foresee myself shopping here very often. Whole Foods has lower prices, more sales and their stuff is almost if not just as good as Epicure. Fresh Market is right up there as well, I would put their meat department second to none and they have good sales too. The Gardener's market is my favorite option for eat-in and a home style feel. I would take any of the three over Epicure, hands down.

It saddens me to potentially see another old Miami institution like Epicure going the way of the Rascal House, with over priced items and small portions. Luckily in Epicure's favor they have some of the highest rent district near the new store, Aventura, Sunny Isles, and Bal Harbor, so they may well get the crowd they are targeting. However, in these woeful economic times, I don't foresee huge lines forming at Epicure's registers. Thumbs up for the quality and the selection. Thumbs down for pricing, portions, and pomp. Let's hope Epicure does not go the way of our former beloved Rascal House.


The Chowfather said...

HUGE epicure tuna fan. Sooo good. I go often just for it. You can do ok price wise if you stick to the sandwiches and prepared foods. Cheese fans love Epicure

Amy said...

They have at Epicure Market in Sunny Isles a Kosher Hot Dog called Louie's All American Kosher Hot Dogs and they are amazing but they arent offered at the South Beach location does anyone know where I can find them near Alton Rd.

Anonymous said...

I've tried them too but the "World's Biggest Kosher Hot Dog" lol also from all american kosher and they sell them at Lee Ann Drugs on 9th street on Alton rd.