Does Charlottetown really need more chorizo?

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.


alexander's picture
alexander on October 11, 2012 - 18:52

An aspiring grocery mogul needs to blatantly steal Trader Joe’s business model — Store-brand only food, good quality at low prices and make it up in store revenue per square foot.

Dave Robinson's picture
Dave Robinson on October 11, 2012 - 19:17

The answer to your question is “YES!” Especially when it does not involve a car trip. I haven’t visited yet, but I have had my nose pressed against the glass for weeks. It is a bonus that some considerable care has gone into store design. The place would look at home i Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver. But, I’m glad its here.

If you want frozen pizza, you can go to Shoppers Drug Mart, a bag of petrified onions, the Queen Street Convenience store, Oreos, the Hardware Store at Confederation Court, but for real produce, cheese, deli meats — you’re in your car, or out of luck downtown.

Isaac's picture
Isaac on October 11, 2012 - 20:40

It had me at crème fraîche.

I will be doing my part to make sure it does not go out of business, and I like to think Charlottetown can support what they are aiming for, becuase otherwise, no crème fraîche.

And of course, produce, meat and fish without a car downtown is a huge improvement.

Sue Punzo's picture
Sue Punzo on October 12, 2012 - 15:52

I saw it open and went in for a look last night. I love it! It was not the chorizo I was looking at. It was the beautiful gelati, the Genoa and sopressata salami, the grana padano and paremsan, the barbeque chickens, the fresh ricotta, the beautiful artisan breads, sweets and chocolate. Being next to the olive oil store makes it even more attractive. I hope there are people here to support this store and cafe. It is unique to the Island and the best thing about it is it will not be seasonal. It is real food downtown!

Pan's picture
Pan on November 28, 2012 - 15:55

Part of the problem has to do with developing a broad market for decent food. In Montreal it’s taken for granted that you can get quality food for a decent price. Here you have to cater to a niche market because the idea of good quality food is still something you have to convince people of. People think you’re ripping them off if you charge 50% more for something that involves real ingredients, thought, labour, etc…

At the same time, catering to our day-to-day needs is pretty tough to pull off when you’re competing with the superstore. Maybe the real question is about the widespread belief that consumer choices are the best way of impacting the world we live in.

Steve Dimond @steveinpei's picture
Steve Dimond @s... on January 10, 2013 - 06:21

Kudos, Accolades, & Major Wows

One can grab a fast food meal elsewhere. Being at a key location for visiting Cruise ships and Tourists alike, along with locals who appreciate fine food, Terre Rouge is a VERY welcome addition to Ch’Town. I cannot heap enough praise for the quality of cuisine I had tonight. Truly a magnificent meal with flavours that exploded and genuinely complemented at each bite. High end ….yes. High quality….most certainly. Higher price …. Expected and appropriately set. Staff …. Delightful.

Very happy to see this …. We will be back.

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