Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Russian Grocery Store Tour: International Foods


I'm surprised that I’ve never reviewed International Foods--the original Russian grocery store in Milwaukee. Opened in the early 1990s during the post-Soviet immigrant wave, International Foods is really the only Russian grocery in Milwaukee that gets press or the occasional American customer. 

Location: 1920 E. Capital Dr.,  Shorewood, Wis., (414) 964-7115.

Atmosphere: The original, sparsely-shelved Eastern European grocery store.

Customer Service: Who knows? Known for both a brusque Soviet attitude and the occasional sweet cashier.
Product Selection: Good selection of deli specialties and ready-made Russian party food such as salads, herring in a fur coat, pastries, pickled tomatoes and cucumbers and much more. I believe International Foods does catering, too. Otherwise, a decent selection of Russian basics, plus a small selection of Russian-language books in the back of the store.

Pricing: On the higher side, but not shocking.

Buy: The homemade deli selections.

Avoid: Watch out for stale bread and cashiers who give you the cold shoulder.

Final Rating: *** 

Rating Key:
*Soviet cafeteria food
**Day-old buckwheat kasha
***Borsch made by a non-native
**** Babushka’s homemade pirozhki
*****Black caviar on a buttered baguette and a shot of chilled vodka

Other recommended Russian/Eastern European grocery stores in Milwaukee: Spartak, Parthenon Foods, and A&J Polish Deli.
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