A Dining Review of Whole Foods Market in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

The Whole Truth: Whole Foods—yes, Whole Foods—is cooking up a storm.



At a Glance

Whole Foods Market
475 Wilmington-West Chester Pike,
Glen Mills, Pa., (610) 358-1133,
wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/glen-mills

Recommended dishes
Brick-oven pizza, mac and cheese, green chile pork stew, bakery items

 

 

 

The bakery turns out such goodies as Bavarian pretzels, cranberry scones, oatmeal cream pies, and Amish-style whoopie pies. Late on a Tuesday night, Whole Foods Glen Mills hums like a beehive. Shoppers by the dozens zip and buzz between the grid-like aisles, stopping for a moment to admire the beaming tower of acai juice bottles, or the bulk crates of yellow chana dal beans. Naturally, a few settle near the vats of locally sourced honey.

The body moves instinctively along with the hive. Almost without control, you find yourself hovering near a crate of fair trade figs and digging through the five varieties of organic beets. Soon, you’re reading the nutritional label on a bottle of raw coconut water, and talking yourself into one of the 60-gallon rain buckets you saw on your way in.

Suspiciously cheerful chalkboards direct your every motion. “Welcome to Whole Foods,” they seem to say. “Resistance is futile.”

Whole Foods Glen Mills, and its 38,000-square-feet of organic, fair trade, quinoa-stuffed sensory overload, opened in March. There was live music, beer tastings, freebies galore and much hoopla. Philly Magazine’s Foobooz blog referred to it as “the best thing to happen to grocery shopping since the invention of grocery stores.”

 Whole Foods’ bar features a rotating list of local microbrews on tap.The store, which shares a shopping plaza with Harvest Seasonal Grill, and shares a stretch of road with a Trader Joe’s, surfed into the area on the crest of the Great Farm-to-Table Movement. And—yeah—it’s easy to get swept away.

On busy days, Whole Foods (here, in its closest location between Delaware and Philly) exudes farmers market frenzy. The shelves and coolers here contain some of the best quality grocery products in the area, from meat to cheese, to pasta and fish, pantry and sundry items—beckoning the hundreds of eco-conscious suburbanites who claw and grapple to nab them. The energy and the nuttiness are an integral part of the Whole Foods Experience, and it’s part of why the world’s largest natural food chain is so invigorating.

The Austin, Texas-based chain occasionally gets dinged for its over-aggressive marketing, and for using “natural” as a selling point rather than a social cause. But no matter the politics and lifestyle choices that drive it, natural (or “natural”) shopping is inherently more interesting and more engaging than your typical trip to the grocery store. Simply by urging customers to consider where their food comes from, Whole Foods serves as an important, if imperfect symbol for 21st century, eco-driven cuisine.

Brick-oven pizzas are ready for your favorite toppings.Whole Foods’ best utility is its selection. It’s uptown. It’s exhaustive. And it has a knack for showcasing those ever-elusive items you can never seem to find at your neighborhood mega mart. The kumquats, poblano peppers and green curry pastes of the world? Whole Foods has them in abundance, as well as olives, international foods, oils, and baking supplies that are all superior to that of your local big box. The store’s coolest feature is undoubtedly its bulk food filling stations, where customers can stock up on local honey, olive oils, rice, dried beans, and all the smoked sea salt they can handle.

Apart from its retail wing, Whole Foods boasts several sit-down elements: a few indoor-outdoor grazing zones, a lumberjack-inspired pub (complete with 40 stools and a rotating list of local microbrews on tap), and a seemingly endless supply of eat-in or takeout food counters. Consider this your local salad bar on steroids (or in this case, pasture-raised on B-vitamins). Fresh cut and clean veggies, grains and pre-mixed combos line the tables. There’s a hot sandwich counter, a brick pizza oven, fresh-rolled sushi, homemade pastas, a gargantuan bakery, and much, much more.

And if by chance you thought, as I did, that the selection is all quinoa-kamut salads and $10 cayenne-infused lemonades, you’d be wrong.

The sign explains that pomegranates are used in many traditions to symbolize being fruitful.At the hot buffet next to butternut posole and senate bean soup, I spotted some juicy seared chicken thighs marinating in a poppy lemon-rosemary jus. Slow-cooked and tender, the chicken shredded nicely and onto a pile of Caribbean-inspired callaloo, braised collard greens and okra.

The WF veggie burger had nothing in common with an actual burger, apart from its general shape, color and the word “burger.” But this version exuded ample earthy flavor, thanks to its mushroom purée binder and kitchen sink approach to veganism. Bits of cauliflower, celery root, carrot, bell pepper, peas, red cabbage and chickpeas contributed to a fully formed, robust-tasting patty.

Bright flavors burst elsewhere. Poached tilapia, tender and firm, remained deeply aromatic and vivid, due in part to its warm bath of carrots, red onions and celery, plus a healthy dose of Old Bay. And even vegan rolls from the store’s bright sushi counter  popped with crispy, veggie goodness: creamy avocado sunk into crunchy carrots, cucumber and arugula, while hidden whittles of red cabbage skulked beneath the soy wrappers, giving the roll a vivid allure.

Sadly, healthy isn’t always delicious, and it didn’t take much to realize balsamic-glazed tofu tasted about as good as it sounded. While I imagined the nutrient-rich Super Foods Salad imbuing in me the ability to lift Buicks and type copy at light speed, the mixture of organic kale, barley and red onions (plus the “super food” medley of goji berries, mulberries, cacao nibs and more) tasted bitter and unwieldy. Even generous drizzles of acai berry dressing did little to mask the leafy assault.

Melty Monterey Jack cheese should have made a wild mushroom quesadilla into a fast-disappearing snack, but the tortilla had become waterlogged, and even a few flips in a hot frying pan couldn’t recapture a crispy exterior. Similar problems of the gloppy, pasty variety befell a bland black bean burrito.

Eventually I slung my head in guilt and submitted my will to Whole Foods’ less-healthy choices, like the rich and luscious mac and cheese, where half-and-half, cream cheese, cheddar and Parmesan teamed to siege tender cavatappi pasta. Meaty turkey chili and tender green-chile pork stew proved hearty companions during a cold, rainy weekend, as did the store’s brick-oven pizzas. Done right—on high temperatures in short order—the pies arrived hot and crisp, and were perfect hosts for toppings like shallot and local mushrooms. 

My nose, meanwhile, parked itself as close to Whole Foods’ prodigious bakery as societal norms allowed, and I soon found myself intoxicated by Bavarian pretzels, apple Danish, sinful sugar cookies, ficelle sandwiches and cranberry scones.

Cookies screamed the loudest—from the fudgey sandwich bites, chewy and pliable, to the fluffier, Amish-style whoopee pies jammed together with sugar-bombed pastry cream, to the homemade oatmeal cream pies. All delivered a satisfying, nostalgic rush. Deftly composed tiramisu refreshed with crisp notes of mascarpone cream, and just the right slap of bitter, barky espresso, while the resplendent root-beer cupcake provided enough sugary zing to fuel a busload of first-graders.

After enough rounds with the bakery, I felt I was beginning to lose sight of the very concept of Whole Foods—but was I? The prepared goods at this corporate-fueled health food giant weren’t always stellar, but the sheer selection and variety of choices begs exploration. And that’s what makes it great.

It may not have Acme’s fried chicken, ShopRite’s cakes or Safeway’s sushi. And I could probably spend the better part of a weekend scouring my local cheese shops, butchers and farmers markets for the absolute best in quality, local ingredients. But the sum of Whole Foods’ many disparate parts makes it a tempting, and deserving option.

And before long, you’re back in the parking lot, adjusting your yoga pants, taking a sip from a cold bottle of Guayaki Yerba Mate and thinking maybe—just maybe—this is the year you begin composting.

 

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February 2016

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Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

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Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $0-14

Where:
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Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
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Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $0-14

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201 Hagley Creek Rd
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View map »


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Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
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More information

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Cost: $50

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801 Middleford Rd.
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Show More...
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Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


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Website »

More information

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Cost: $13

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1101 Arch St.
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View map »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $0-14

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201 Hagley Creek Rd
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View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51W Main St.
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View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

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47 W Main St.
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View map »


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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

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Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

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Christiana Care at the New Castle Farmers Market Location: New Castle Farmers Market, 110 N. Dupont Hwy., New Castle, Market Stage Area Time: 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Routine screenings for...

Where:
, DE

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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

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Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Features activities and crafts that help visitors learn about local and national political roles in environmental conservation. Visitors can learn about the battle that politicians fought for a...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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The Philly Home Show will inspire your inner HGTV star at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia from Feb. 12–14 and 19–21. The show will feature highly interactive...

Cost: $13

Where:
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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What was behind the legendary story of King Midas and his golden touch? That is the question to be answered—not with chests full of gold, but with a spectacular array of ancient artifacts,...

Cost: Adults $20; seniors $18; students (with ID) $15; children (ages 6–17) $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Guests can explore three floors of exhibitions in the Visitor Center, stroll along the river through dozens of historic structures from the Industrial Revolution, and explore the gardens and...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
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Penn Museum opens the world premiere exhibition The Golden Age of King Midas—featuring ancient treasures on loan from the Republic of Turkey—with a spectacular daylong public...

Cost: $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
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For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society and CAMP Rehoboth will co-present "Tab Hunter Confidential" and "Portrait of a Serial Monogamist" as part of its annual Another Take...

Cost: $8

Where:
Metropolitan Community Church
19369 Plantation Rd.
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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"La Sylphide" shares the beautiful and romantic story of our hero, James—a young Scottish farmer who, on the eve of hid wedding, abandons his betrothed, Effie, after being...

Cost: $25

Where:
Salesanium School
1801 North Broom St.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Academy of International Ballet
Telephone: 1-866-908-5666
Contact Name: Denis Gronostayskiy
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Venture back with us for an evening where we re-imagine the Victorian Industrial Age as seen through our steam-powered, futuristic goggles.  Our biggest fundraiser of the year and all proceeds...

Cost: $100-$110

Where:
Smyrna Opera House
7 West South Street
Smyrna, DE  19977
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A spoiled orphan girl is sent to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors and discovers renewed life, for herself and her sickly cousin, in bringing her dead aunt’s secret garden back to...

Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
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Location: St. Mark’s High School, 2501 Pike Creek Road, Wilmington Time: Registration: 11:30 a.m. Race: 12:30 p.m. Fee: $25 (until Thursday, Feb. 11), $35 after and day of event...

Where:
, DE

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Location: Beebe Healthcare’s Medical Center, 424 Savannah Road, Lewes Date: Saturday, Feb. 13 (and the second Saturday of each month) Time: 9 a.m. Fee: Free For more...

Where:
, DE

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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

More information

A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

More information

Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

More information

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