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Foster’s Market

Posted by MEZ 21 Jan 2011 23 Comments

There’s no question that Foster’s Market is a beautiful location for breakfast or lunch. It does, however, get rather hectic inside, at least in my and NOK’s opinions. That’s the result of both its popularity and the odd set-up of different counters to order coffee and breakfast, lunch, or dessert at. That’s not even counting if you want to pick up any wines or items from their selection of local and/or gourmet jams, jellies, chocolates, cornbread mixes, and the like from the various shelves and displays throughout the space. If you get a side of one of their 10 different salads that range from chicken to rice to roasted vegetables,

then you need to balance that side along with your coffee and other items while you walk over to the registers to pay. I’ve no clue why sides aren’t brought out with the sandwiches when they’re done. But besides the initial frenzy, Foster’s Market’s food is usually worth it, especially in the spring when the wisteria’s blooming on the magnificent porch. For these unfortunate winter months, you are stuck inside, in a colorful room that’s definitely full during meal rushes.

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve had so far, and DID recommends anything that comes with the hot pepper jelly. Breakfast wraps are great, as are the home fries. The Greek grilled cheese with spinach, tomato, grilled onions, artichoke hearts, cucumbers, pepperoncini, provolone and feta is divine if you’re looking for a grilled cheese smorgasbord, though with the huge Syrian wrap, all the bread can be overwhelming. On my last trip, I had a 1/2 turkey club (all the sandwiches except for wraps can be halved and cost only $4) on rosemary focaccia with bacon, spinach, dijon vinaigrette, and brie.

Again, it was more bread than I like on a sandwich, but the spinach was the perfect green for handling all the gooey swiss, bacon, and mayo. It was a very tasty sandwich. My side of roasted veggie salad was also yummy.

The super good sweet potatoes dominated the blend of vegetables that also contained cauliflower, broccoli, new potatoes, rosemary, and parsley.

I’ve found their coffee making skills a bit lacking, however. That’s a cappuccino, and as you can see, the foam’s not exactly well-steamed. They also go big on size—that’s a small, which I added an extra shot to because the big mug is humungous and I just don’t need that much milk in my cappuccino.

Also worth noting is that Foster’s Market offers 5 days’ worth of meals to go on a rotating menu, starting at $100 for 2 people. You pick it up on Monday evenings and simply heat up the food the rest of the week. Has anyone tried this deal? It sounds pretty perfect for a week when you know you’ll be too busy to cook.

To sum up, Foster’s Market is great for tasty sandwiches and breakfasts, a bit lacking in coffee, and rather hectic, but totally worth it in the spring, when that porch is extra inviting.

Foster’s Market
2694 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard
Lakewood/Rockwood
Website
Breakfast: $4.95—$9.95
Sandwiches/Wraps: $7.50—$7.95
Hours: 7:30 am—8:00 pm
Reviewed 1.5.11.

23 Comments »

  • Shannon said:

    The 5 nights of meals deal was a godsend when we had our first baby and couldn’t cook or get out to the store. For two people, we were able to stretch the meals to 10 nights, and everything was freezeable, as I recall. A little pricey, but a good deal when you really need it.

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  • jessica said:

    I’ve purchased their couple share of weekly dinners two times recently and enjoyed them. The first purchase was when I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and was exhausted yet still craving a balanced dinner. The second time we took them with us to the beach to make one meal a day super easy on us!

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  • carolinacharlie said:

    We’ve gotten Foster’s “week of meals” package many times and have found it to be a lifesaver for a couple with a small child. Some of the dishes *ar* just “heat and serve,” but others must actually be cooked (the stir fry is a notable example). The package also includes a desert, salad fixings, and some sort of bread option.

    The meals are usually quite good, although sometimes following the directions leaves the dishes not nearly cooked enough (YMMV, of course). We have also found the folks at Foster’s to be very open to constructive feedback on the ingredients in the dishes and the “heating” instructions.

    All in all, these meals represent a good value for the busy family and we recommend them heartily — just maybe give them a few extra minutes in the oven. :)

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  • Patrick said:

    Definitely agree on the coffee. The Cafe Mochas are terrible.

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  • MEZ (author) said:

    Thanks for the great feedback on the dinners to go, everyone! It is duly noted–especially for that upcoming week in February that I just overscheduled myself for work. It will be a zombie week; good, mostly easy to heat-up food may be in order.

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  • Tooth said:

    How much of the take away containers are compostable? And I don’t mean previously recycled/recyclable. I compost and I recycle. There is a distinct difference.

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  • TSQ75 said:

    i find the food…ok. the setup…annoying. the view from the lawn…terrible. I guess if given the choice, I’d rather go just a bit further up the street to Guglhupf

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    MEZ replies on January 24th, 2011 at 3:06 pm:

    The view of the road is not exciting, that’s for sure, but much outdoor dining in the area is unappealing in that regard–many restaurants have views of parking lots from theirs. I find the blooming plants plenty of eye candy on their own.

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  • beebs said:

    What I find annoying about Foster’s is the process of food delivery — many times, I’ve seen food walked all over the inside and outside of the store…cold eggs/pancakes/etc. anyone? And the process of paying is mystifying — what is their loss rate, with people just walking off without paying? Truly an odd set up.

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  • KS said:

    Am I the only one who finds Foster’s Market food to be terribly bland? I’ve been 3 or 4 times (both the Chapel Hill and Durham locations), and everything I’ve had has been virtually flavorless. I really want to like this place, as it’s got a cool atmosphere and the actual “market” section has a great selection of items, but the sandwiches all taste like styrofoam.

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  • MRS said:

    “Am I the only one who finds Foster’s Market food to be terribly bland? I’ve been 3 or 4 times (both the Chapel Hill and Durham locations), and everything I’ve had has been virtually flavorless.”

    I agree, especially when it’s near $12 for a sandwich, no side and a miniature cup of iced tea. Rare exceptions to this are the Jammin’ Turkey (wholly due to the aforementioned pepper jelly) and the Thai Chicken Wrap.

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    BullCity replies on February 10th, 2011 at 5:04 pm:

    I’m so tired of folks complaining about the price of good food. The most expensive sandwich at Fosters is $7.95. Unless they’ve recently started charging $4 for their iced tea (with free refills), your math is slightly off! If you want lunch for $5, check out Jason’s Deli or some other national chain that cares more about quantity of customers than the quality of their food.

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    BullTown replies on February 15th, 2011 at 9:46 pm:

    $7.95 is still way too expensive for a terrible sandwich. I’ve been to Foster’s a few times and every single time it was not worth it.

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  • LK said:

    I prefer Parker and Otis any day of the week to Fosters. I find their food much tastier.

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  • Sara Foster said:

    Thank you all for the great feed back and for coming to eat at Foster’s. We try our best to make everyone happy, so please if you are here and something is not working let us know immediately and we will do something about it!! First, let me explain how the system works, it’s really simple.
    1. You order your food at the counter
    2. If you want something while you are waiting you can get things immediately, like salad, soup, baked goods, casseroles and more.
    3. Help yourself to your beverage
    4. We bring your food when it is ready. Sometimes it does take 20 to 30 minutes if we are really busy because we make everything to order. But we usually try to give you a heads up if there is a wait so you can grab something else to eat if you are really hungry.
    5. You pay on your way out, so if you want to come back and get a dessert or something more you don’t have to wait in line twice.
    And about the coffee, we have been working on training for the past few weeks since this review. So those of you that are unhappy with Foster’s, come back and give us another try, we aim to please. And those of you that are happy regular customers, we value your business, keep coming back too, we are always changing and working on improving, thanks for your business, SF

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    Stickyheels replies on February 5th, 2011 at 7:20 pm:

    Wow! What an impressive response. I appreciate the explanation of the payment system.

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    MEZ replies on February 13th, 2011 at 9:14 pm:

    Sara, thank you so much for that explanation. I had no idea that payment wasn’t required until diners were leaving your establishment—may I suggest perhaps a sign near the main entrance that explains that rule? Knowing that makes ordering my standard coffee and side dish a million times more appealing, since I can just stick them on a table rather than balance them while paying!

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    Kid Stardust replies on February 14th, 2011 at 2:37 pm:

    I don’t think I’ve ever been to Foster’s when a member of my party didn’t have to have them fix something after our order was delivered–and this was ordering off the menu, not special requests. Never got the sense that the staff faced with these requests for correction “aim to please,” either. Staff morale has always seemed to be an issue. As a result, Foster’s is never my top pick when going out for a bite anymore. I know I’m far more likely to get a more consistent product and pleasant service at Saladelia or Parker & Otis, so that’s where I go.

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  • christine said:

    Try the bear claws on the weekend – they’re delicious! Chocolate-Oreo-type filling with creamy sauce and slivered almonds on top…. Yummy!

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  • Jen said:

    Glad to see you’re working on the coffee. My husband and I got coffee a couple of weeks ago and it was awful…he got a black eye and ended up dumping it out after one sip. My latte was pretty bad, too. There’s a guy there that does a fine job, but the young girl that served us was terrible and had a snotty attitude.

    I far prefer P&O, but Fosters does half sandwiches, which is a huge plus.

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    MEZ replies on February 13th, 2011 at 9:15 pm:

    I agree that it’s a huge plus, especially when you are trying to watch your calories! I have a horrible time not eating all the food on my plate, so ordering smaller portions is always a plus in my book.

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  • dbird said:

    I share the ambivalence of previous reviewers. Will add another question: in as much as Foster’s seems to get the value of local, sustainable etc (advertising some of its menu items that way) what explains the fact that the preponderance of offerings are not? I was very surprised to learn that chicken in chicken salads etc is not free range, for example. That would seem a low bar. Last couple times I was there, I ordered a sandwich. There was a notice that tomatoes would not be added to sandwiches due to the season (relief, I would not have expected) but then, disconcertingly, there they were.

    On the whole I find Foster’s to be inconsistent with messaging and delivery.

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    Kat replies on February 13th, 2011 at 11:24 pm:

    I love the food at Foster’s – their sandwiches, salads and soups are terrific!! And the desserts are delicious. And if you would like to try new recipes take a look at Sara’s three cookbooks. Every recipe I’ve tried in each book is a winner.

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