I thought it was kind of a let-down. Too many ppl, too little food. Some of the food did not highlight the restaurant's specialty/ strengths. Many restaurants (Beacon, Angeli, Drago) only offered salads, Providence only offered desserts. On the other hand, I was impressed with the earnest effort of the smaller establishments like Jitlada, Akbar, Clementine, and Genet, they offered a good variety to really showcase their food and to attract potential customers. Another problem was that some places ran out of food by 530 when the event's supposed to go until 7. I was really impressed that Palate and Annisette had their chefs there, and the quality of the food shows. Unless they step it up next year, this will probably be the last time I attend this event,
Agree with most of that - the choices for some restaurants seemed strange. There was much disorganization at the start - which worked in my favor as there were two lines to enter and all I had to do was show the confirmation e-mail on my phone while the line of ticket-holders wrapped around the block.
I was able to enjoy about 40 minutes without a crowd!
I found Sona and Loteria to be standouts.......
too crowded. lines were too long. glad there was free wine, beer, Fiji and POM juice.
favorites were Sona for their "caviar shooter" (what was that btw,i just took it and shot it with reckless abandon...) and their ginger/grapefruit drink, La Casita Mexicana was great too...i'm definitely gonna check that out....green cerviche (actually all three of their dishes were strong and they had the best people there for telling you about themselves....block of cotija cheese...fantastic) and Animal for their Pork Belly Kim Chee..that was by far my favorite of the day.. didn't get to try everything....the venue was also very hot, wish it were all out doors next time....just so cramped inside that studio.
While waiting in line for an hour (arriving at 2:40 pm but didn't get in until 3:40 pm due to confusion and chaos at the entrance), I was able to look through the program and map out the ones that I want to taste. We skipped the first two rooms and went straight to the back room where Drago, Anisette, Sona, The Hungry Cat, Jitlada were stationed. It wasn't very crowded yet at that time so we got to do a lot of repeat tastings in that room. When we ventured out to the room where Mozza was, the line was alreay very long. So we skipped that room and went to the first and the largest room and tasted Providence, La Mill, Upstairs 2...etc.
My favorite for today were (hope I get them right since there was no time to get full description of everything):
Drago--a very tasty seafood salad with poached scallops and shrimps (portion was really tiny but we went back for 2nd, 3rd.....)
Sona--a combination of raw salmon, ikura, seaweed sprout, and baby radish & a very delicious freshly squeezed ginger/blood orange drink (again tiny portion but we went back many times)--saw David Myers there
Annisette--they offered two tastings: a bite-size salad with crispy porchetta, and duck l'orangerie on skewers
Palate--a very generous piece of crispy pork belly with polenta
The Hungry Cat--a piece of rolled up smoked salmon with a very flavorful cream cheese (?) inside
Providence--we were disappointed too that they only served desserts but the chocolates (3 kinds-banana, whisky and a tea flavor I think) were really amazing. There was another dessert in a cup (pineapple with mousse?) that was also very good.
Bummers for the day: couldn't get to Animal (pork belly), Mozza (fresh mozzarella) and Clementine (an array of desserts). Lines were just too long.
For beverages there were 63 wineries (according to the program) 2 beers (Kirin, Stella Artois), POM, Fiji Water, Urth Caffe and La Mill. We didn't drink a lot of wine but some people got very tipsy when we left at 6:30 pm.
There were defintely too many people, too little space and quite a few detailed needed improvement, but we thought it was pretty fun.
I have a slightly more optimistic take than the others, and I think it's probably because I got in sooner (3:15?), and had no lines whatsoever for the first half hour or so. So I got to try a lot of things without waiting at all. After that, the lines were typically about 5 minutes, with the exception of Animal, which had a HUGE line. It was indeed very crowded, but this didn't always translate into a long wait for food (except for Animal). We left after about 2 hours, completely stuffed, so if there were any problems with food shortages we didn't encounter them. Overall, we had a very good time. Personally, I don't have a problem with restaurants offering salads and desserts if they are good...and the seafood salad at Drago was very good, as was the dessert at Providence. Here's a really brief review of many booths, loosely organized into "the best" and "the rest":
Sona—Really delicious and visually beautiful dish of salmon and roe, topped with a pretty broccoli flower. This may have been my favorite dish of the day. Served with a really refreshing fruity drink.
Animal—pork belly with kimchi was delicious, and worth the very long line. The two dudes were cooking everything themselves and were very friendly and apologetic about the wait.
Palate—Really delicious pork belly, tender and perfectly cooked, served over polenta. I actually preferred this to Animal's pork belly, my husband liked this version a lot but preferred Animal's.
Anisette—Frise with quail egg was delicious!
Drago—excellent seafood salad.
Providence—pineapple concoction that was at once rich and very light, and a variety of chocolates that were uniformly excellent...we revisited this booth right before leaving to end on a high note of dessert!.
Babita—shrimp dish that was solid but nothing special, and a delicious chile relleno stuffed with a mixture that resembled ceviche. This chile relleno was a standout.
Lou—pulled pork dish that was very good, and a fish salad that was also very good.
Kyochon—spicy fried chicken wing was excellent, the soy sauce fried chicken wing was solid but not special.
Mozza—really delicious burrata with smoked tomatoes and pesto. Simple but surprisingly delicious.
Loteria Grill—Lengua and potato tacos were very good. Taco with cheese and guacamole was very lackluster in comparison...cheese was overly salty and guac tasted overly processed. Agua fresca was delicious and refreshing.
Clementine—banana creme pie was delicious, as was the rugalach. Oatmeal cookie with creamed filling, chocolate cookie, and another cookie were good but nothing to write home about.
L.A. Mill—coffee was very good, but nothing I would drive across town for, so I'm glad I got to sample it in a convenient location. L.A. Mill's chocolate chip cookie was terrible--took one small bite, then threw it out.
Upstairs 2—kurubota pork dish was good, but the weakest pork dish of the day (compared to Animal, Palate, and Lou).
Renu Nakorn—salmon in a red curry sauce. A good version of this dish, but again, nothing I would drive across town to eat in the future.
Mr. Baguette—had a variety of sandwiches, I tried the soft roast beef. Again, a solid sandwich, but nothing I would drive across town for. I had to save room so I threw it out after a couple of bites.
Alcazar—they had a variety of offerings, but I only tried a couple of things and they weren't remarkable.
Fanciful baskets—tried a variety of chocolates, all were good but not standout.
Hungry Cat—Smoked salmon wrapped around tasty cream cheese was good, but not a standout.
Jitada—Curried beef and rice were both nice and spicy. Good but not standout.
Wurstkuche had a rabbit and rattlesnake sausage that was solid but nothing special.
It should be noted that "the rest" were all pretty good, they just weren't as good as "the best." The only items that were truly disappointing were L.A. Mill's cookies and the food at Alcazar. Everything else was solid, if not remarkable.
I had a great time. The line was a bit chaotic but we got there around 2:45pm and were towards the front of the line so got in quickly once it started moving. After grabbing some Kyochon wings to tide us over we went straight to the back room. Many of the high end restaurants were there and by heading straight back we beat the crowds and got to eat everything there (multiple times!) at our leisure with absolutely no lines and with many of the chefs on hand happy to talk to you about the food. In the back room Palate served a wonderful pork belly dish and the SO had three servings of Hungry Cat's salmon and date roll-up as well as multiple servings of the Drago seafood salad. We were both very impressed by Drago's panna cotta dessert, Jitlada’s very spicy food (first time trying, will definitely be back) and all three of the dishes from Anisette (two quail egg dishes and duck a l'orange).
Once we had our fill of the back room we ventured out to the other two rooms and were struck by how crowded it had gotten. Quite frankly, we had already eaten from so many of the best booths by that time and were getting somewhat full that we used the opportunity to taste wine. There was sooooo much wine to try and no lines for any of it which was wonderful. Very kid in a candy store feeling. Some of the pourers were very knowledgeable while others were not, but overall the wine tasting portion was extremely enjoyable.
After our wine break we were feeling more adventurous and scoped out which booths in the front room we wanted to try based on restaurant, size of line and what they were serving. We decided against Animal which had a huge line and was serving pork belly since we just had multiple servings of that from Palate. We also skipped Meals by Genet because of the line. However Angeli didn’t have any line and we loved their very simple beet gnocchi with a parmesan salad. Providence also was line free and while we were a touch disappointed they didn’t have seafood, we were mollified by their delicious chocolates. We also went right up to LA Mill for cookies, Upstairs 2 for pork with beet risotto and Wurstcuche (sp?) for rattlesnake sausage.
At this point we went to the middle room and saw that the Mozza line was huge. I popped to the front of the line and they were just doing their caprese which I’ve had before, so we skipped it and got dessert with hot chocolate and marshmallows from Clementine. Their food reminded me how good that place is and how I need to go back.
There were more places we tried and I was so full by 6pm that I couldn’t eat or drink any more. Admittedly many of the booths had run out of food by that point but quite frankly I had eaten almost everything I wanted and had more than my $60 worth, so that was fine by me. Sure there were some lines, but there were so many great booths that you could just walk right up to that I didn’t mind the occasional line to give me a little time to take a breather from all the eating. All in all I thought it was a wonderful event especially at the price and would definitely come back.
Glad to hear that you enjoyed it too! We did the exact same strategy of heading to the back room first...it seems like having first dibs on the very best food before the crowds arrived upped the enjoyment factor for those of us who used that strategy. I guess I still missed the panna cotta at Drago and duck at Anisette...oh well, I can't eat EVERYTHING (but I can try.). :)