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Jewel Osco Hot Food Bar Review

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Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Jewel Osco Hot Food Bar Review 

First time I ever recall seeing a “hot food bar” was in the corner delis and bodegas in New York City, must have been 30-40 years ago.

That made sense, people rushing home from work, late, wanted a hot, somewhat balanced meal that they didn’t have to fuss with it.

Along came the concept of “groceraunt” (but years before that term was coined) and grocery stores started adding full service hot deli counters, which then evolved into the “bar” – a dozen or more hot entrees along with mass appeal sides – mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, stewed carrots and the like.

They accompanied fairly standard hot dishes, meatloaf, fried chicken in various forms, chicken and dumplings, stews, baked or fried fish and the like. I’m willing to be a lot of money that none of these foods are prepared in-house, but come in large tinfoil pans fully cooked, probably frozen, waiting for the “heat and eat” stage and to be dumped onto the food bar.

A giant version of TV dinners, if you will.  If it’s a large grocery, it’s likely there is an accompanying “salad bar” that also includes a half dozen soup offerings. Both the hot food and salad are priced by the pound, and it varies depending on the chain and the zip code.  I’ve seen them from $6- $9 per pound. (Expert tip – “liquid” has weight. Watch that you keep liquid accompanying your entree or side to a minimum.

There are only two or three massive grocery holding companies any more, they’ve gone out and bought all the regional chains up. Jewel-Osco, in the Upper Midwest, is part of Albertson’s, which is part of SuperValu.  Then there is Kroger Company, which owns a gaggle of brands, and of course WalMart and the member only clubs. Jewel Osco, was originally the grocery chain “Jewel T” and Osco was a drug store chain. They are co-located and co-named now, obviously.

If I’m ever in the mood for the hot bar concept, I limit my grazing to the upmarket groceries, Whole Foods or regional choices. Better quality, larger variety, but more expensive, of course. Whereas your regular grocery might have beef burger tomato goulash, the upmarket places are going to offer pad thai and that type of thing.

So passing by one of my local Jewel-Oscos (I purposely avoid them, they are spendy compared to competitors, and with no real right to be spendy, plus their big “sale” prices, especially the BOGOs are hilariously dishonest), I thought I’d graze the hot bar just for something to write about.

Friday is “wing day” apparently and they were offering maybe eight different styles of chicken wings, and a couple types of “boneless wings” which aren’t wings at all, are they?

So I retried some “Buffalo” boneless wings,  meatballs in marinara, and fried cod (hey, it is lent).  My feelings about the dishes are as follows:

Why do they call them “boneless wings?” I realize anything “nugget” related is associated with McD, but why not bits? Mini tenders?  Something. The buffalo flavoring wasn’t.  I think they mixed up the trays, and what I ended up having was boneless wings of General Tso variety. They were sweet, with a little heat, and deep fried.  Not a trace of buffalo seasoning flavor.  These weren’t billed as “all white meat” because they weren’t. There was some white, some grey, whatever that was.  Diced chicken parts rolled together in the batter.

Meatball.  Zero flavor, very dense.  Now it wasn’t billed as “Italian” but swimming in a red sauce, one might (like me) assume it would be Italian, but no garlic, oregano, basil, fennel. Just meat. Of an unknown origin.  I’m gonna go with pork, because of the color.  No noticeable bread crumbs or filler.

Fried cod. Like the chicken, these are bits of fish rolled into a batter and fried.  It was the best of the three things I tried, and I’m not a big cod fan, but on any Friday night in Chicagoland or Southern Wisconsin, you’ll see restaurant offering all you can eat cod, fried or baked, at a pretty low price. There must be a lot of cod left in the ocean, though Newfoundlanders would disagree with you.

That’s about it for the Jewel Osco hot food bar.  I won’t make it a regular thing.

Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Meatball

 

Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Meatball, Dissected

 

Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Boneless “Wings”

 

Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Inside a “Wing”

 

Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Fried cod

 

Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Deep inside a fish

Jewel Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Jewel Osco Hot Food Bar Review

 

 

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