“Could I Have Been that Wrong?”
By Judi Curry / The OB Rag
Liberty Public Market
2820 Historic Decatur Rd.
San Diego, CA 92106
Holy Moly! I’ve been lambasted for reviews I have done before, but none like my first review of the Liberty Public Market in Point Loma. I call it like I see it, but with all the positive comments – forgetting the negative ones for a moment – that the Liberty Public Market has received on my comments, I decided it was time to go back and revisit it. If I made a mistake, I am certainly willing to admit it. (And I do that – look at an old article entitled “If you have to eat crow how do you cook it?”) I gathered a few women from my widow support group and we headed over to the market.
The parking lot was packed on this Friday afternoon at 1:00pm. We found a place after circling the lot once, and wished that not only had teachers taught children how to color in the lines, but also taught them how to park within the lines. Never-the-less, we embarked on our mission.
The first thing that greeted us that was new was a sign that said “We’re sorry, there’s NO DOGS ALLOWED inside the market. (But they can enjoy the outside patio!)” I guess the next thing that we teachers should have done was to teach people – and dogs – to read, because the sign did not stop some patrons for carrying their dogs around the stands. It was better than the first time, however.
The next thought that I had was that the term “Market” was really a misnomer. I think it should be called a “bodega” more than a market. (I know! The definition of “market” is two-fold – a regular gathering of people for the purchase and sale of provision, etc.” or…”an open space or covered building where vendors convene to sell their goods”. This venue is a different kind of “market”; one that you would probably stop at to purchase a particular item – or items.
But we went to visit this market with an open mind; looking for the draw that so many people talked about following my review.
The first thing we noticed was how very, very crowded it was. The lines around the vendors – almost all of them except for the “Venissimo Cheese” stall were long and arduous. We noticed a woman with a walker having trouble navigating the aisle to get to the exit door. She had packages in her hand, so she must have been successful in purchasing what she wanted, in spite of the crowd.
People seemed to be happy; they smiled at everyone; talked to others while waiting in line. The lines only bothered those people that said they had to get back to work and would not have time to get what they wanted.
In an answer to one of the things I mentioned in the original review where I said that there were not many places to sit and eat what was purchased. Someone said that the “Mess Hall” was a place you sit and eat. What that person didn’t mention was that the “Mess Hall” has their own menu. You can’t just go in with a purchase from another vendor and sit down and eat. And, it is in a huge cavernous room shared with one of the beer vendors; the noise is deafening and one has to shout to be heard.
Candy was hungry, and was willing to eat in any of the places we passed. However, if we were to order our food and take it out to the grass to eat it, someone would have had to help us up. There were some tables and chairs in the dark hallway, but not anywhere enough for the multitudes of people that were in the area. All of those tables and chairs were taken.
The sausage variety was wonderful; and this time it was covered. The desserts from “Le Parfait Paris” so tempting; the fish market is now serving and they have a “sushi bar” but although two people were sitting in the chairs, I did not see anyone making sushi.
The line in front of the “Parana” was three deep. There were several people working the crowd, but the lines were long; blocked the entry/exit of market; and a struggle to get through. We watched a young couple with a stroller, and wondered if someone would really get upset with them, as they banged into people on their right, and people on the left.
I was disappointed – again – at the quality of the vegetables at the “Garden Fresh” stall. The avocados were $2 a pound – who sells avocados by the pound? – and I weighed out two of them that were just a tad more than a pound. But they were old, and overripe. I am sure everything was fresh, but it just had the look of being “shopworn.” There is almost no way that the sellers in this “stall” can handle a busy time. The room is very small; if you get people looking at the produce and others in line to pay, it is very congested. Once again I am amazed that the Fire Marshall has given approval to this design.
I said in my first review, and I repeat it here, that I think the best vendor is the “Wicked Maine Lobster.” The prices are reasonable – especially for lobster – and appear to be fresh. If I wanted to serve lobster tails I might even consider coming here for them.
I enjoyed talking to one of the workers at “Stuffed.” He said there was nothing on his menu that he had not tried and liked. I told him I must need to have my eyes checked because it was very difficult – for me – to read the menu on the board. He quickly gave me a printed menu.
One of the widows wanted to buy some flowers because we would be going to the cemetery after our lunch. She was disappointed to find out that the special at “AE Florals” was “$40 a bunch” and half of them looked wilted. She did not buy them.
The widows oohed and aahhed at the ice creams from “Scooped”; they wanted to purchase something from “La Parfait Paris”; they wanted to find a place to sit before making a purchase. Perhaps the one statement made by one of the widows was that the market should either be a market or a “food court”, albeit an expensive one. The feeling was that there was too much going on for such a small venue and the two conflicted with each other.
So, gentle reader, I have revisited, as I said I would do.
I am no more impressed this time than I was the first time. In honesty, I think that my socio-economic situation plays a role in my jaundiced vision of the place. When working and bringing home money I probably would have thought nothing of paying $25 a pound for a filet mignon. And if four steaks totaled $75 I problably wouldn’t have batted an eye.
But I do not have that kind of income any longer and, in my mind, for me to spend that kind of money would be obscene. I don’t care if it is anti-biotic free; I don’t care if it is pure. I just can’t afford to spend the kind of money that is necessary for this venue to be successful. Perhaps I will make a trip to the new chain “Aldi” and see if that better meets my needs as well as those of us that are not in a high income bracket.
In the meantime, enjoy Liberty Public Market. I truly hope it succeeds for the area has put a great deal of time and effort into this endeavor. As it is tweaked in the months to come it may become more palatable for people like me.