The new Terre Rouge “bistro marché” opened in the old Carter’s building on Queen Street today. It’s a combination restaurant and high-end grocery store, connected, both physically and spiritually, to the olive oil shop next door. Oliver and I popped in for a look after lunch this afternoon; the place was packed.
I can’t imagine a place more different than the Clover Farm grocery store that preceded it in the space: the Clover Farm was targetted firmly at the “cheapest tin of peas” and “reduced meat” demographic; the new place is all chorizo, fancy cheese, crème fraîche, gelato and wines-by-the-glass. It’s like the place crossed over to the other side of the tracks without moving an inch.
Certainly the owners of the new place are to be lauded for their moxie, and for investing in what, ultimately, is a risky venture: I’ve always said there’s a huge gap between the aspiration for daily neighbourhood baguettes and the economic and practical reality of daily neighbourhood baguettes, and it’s in the filling in of that chasm that Terre Rouge will suceed or fail.
That all said, it would have been nice to end up with a more “workaday” grocery store in downtown Charlottetown. I’m not wishing for a return of the downmarket Clover Farm by any means, but surely somewhere between “past-expiry-date yoghurt” and “handcrafted pickled plums” lies the kind of grocery store that can actually serve our daily needs for a resonable price.
My jury is out on Terre Rouge for now: I wish them well, and perhaps they’ll do better than their predecessors at listening to their customers and adapting their product mix to cater to our actual day-to-day needs.