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Phantom Gourmet's Food Festival - is it worth the $40?

Dboston Sep 20, 2009 02:30 PM

I am planning on attending Phantom Gourmet's Food Festival and tickets are $40 - is it worth the money and the day? I do not want to wait in lines all day - let me know what your experiences were like at past festivals. Thanks and I appreciate the advice!

  1. c
    catmommy9 Sep 28, 2009 01:42 AM

    Hubby and I went to the very first one, with big expectations. The place was jam-packed, and we were unable to get ANY food at all. We ended up leaving in disgust.

    This was back when the tickets were only $15 each. The ticket prices have steadily gone up every year. No way were we ever going to spend the money for this thing again!

    We drove up to Portsmouth, NH for the day instead. We went to a restaurant with an outside deck and enjoyed the gorgeous weather, and spent a LOT less than $80 for more food and no lines.

    I like some of the places that are at the PGFF, such as Harrow's Chicken Pies and the Summer Shack. But I'd rather just go to these places and get food there, rather than dealing with this overcrowded, overpriced, over-hyped event.

    3 Replies
    1. re: catmommy9
      justbeingpolite Sep 28, 2009 06:17 AM

      I've never gone, and had the usual CH aversion to the whole thing, but have to report that I've heard from several folks who attended and enjoyed the event tremendously. they reported the lines were not bad, the crowds entertaining and the event well run. Go figure.

      1. re: justbeingpolite
        CookieLee Sep 28, 2009 06:23 AM

        My guess is, given the state of the economy, and to me what seems an exorbitant price, there were a lot less people there. I guess if you don't frequent the restaurants participating, it might be interesting.

        1. re: CookieLee
          hargau Sep 28, 2009 06:28 AM

          Yea i would guess that the increase of price from $15 to $40 was to thin out the crowds.

    2. wamcadoo Sep 27, 2009 09:54 PM

      If you want to be ripped off, bored, frustrated, unhappy, and have nothing to do with good food then go right ahead and go. It's a wortless sham.

      1. h
        hargau Sep 26, 2009 03:50 PM

        Report from someone on today. Good friend of mine went and said he thought it was a great value/time. He said he only waited in line for 2 of the things. The Kowloon wings and a steamed burger place. He said everything else he had no wait for.

        1. Johnresa Sep 25, 2009 11:24 AM

          I went to the Phantom Festival a couple of years ago and I really enjoyed myself. Of course there were lines and I did not love everything I had but it was a good time and I got the chance to try dishes from restaurants I might not be able to try otherwise. I think it is totally worth the money.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Johnresa
            Joanie Sep 25, 2009 01:10 PM

            Oh no, you must be tarred and feathered now.

          2. j
            janzy Sep 24, 2009 10:57 AM

            I went to a Hot Dog Safari, which is their father's thing, but pretty sure they were involved.
            The money went to a very worthwhile charity, but was not worth standing in long lines, for a hot dog.
            So, I don't think this venture will be worth it.

            3 Replies
            1. re: janzy
              hargau Sep 24, 2009 06:13 PM

              Strange.. I have been to the hot dog safari the last 3 years in a row and have found that the lines if any moved very fast and never waited more then 5 minutes for anything. Guess its all timing or something.

              I have not been to the food festival so I will not judge it. I think you will find that you could ask about anything PG related on CH and lots of naysayers will come out against it regardless if they have been or not. Id bet 1/2 or more of the people on this posting who say its not worth it, have never been. There is just a general hatred towards anything PG here (not saying its justified or not).

              1. re: hargau
                Gordough Sep 25, 2009 12:28 PM

                My experiences at the hot dog safari the last two years are the same. There were very minimal lines and for $5 it is a great value. My advice is to go early and leave early.

                1. re: hargau
                  Jolyon Helterman Sep 27, 2009 12:06 PM

                  @hargau: Hear, hear!

              2. globalgourmand Sep 24, 2009 09:13 AM

                As stated before, I suppose it depends on what you're going for. For me, though I've never attended, I'd still judge it as not worth the money nor the day. You're asking Chowhounds-- I think most will predictably say "no."

                5 Replies
                1. re: globalgourmand
                  cassoulady Sep 24, 2009 12:32 PM

                  I was asking about the BU Food and Wine event not the PG event.

                  1. re: cassoulady
                    chevrelove Sep 24, 2009 01:55 PM

                    It looks like GG was responding to the OP :-) But I'd be curious to know more about the BU event as well.

                    1. re: chevrelove
                      globalgourmand Sep 25, 2009 10:40 AM

                      Yes, chevrelove (great name!) Once these threads get long and divergent, it can be tough to identify where one's response lies. I try to reference the indent of the post and find that helps. But, thanks for clarifying; it was a response to the OP.

                      I did a quick search: perhaps this is the BU event cassoulady was mentioning?


                      1. re: globalgourmand
                        MC Slim JB Sep 25, 2009 11:00 AM

                        It helps to take care with which "Reply" button you hit. The common mistake is to reply to the most recently-posted entry in the thread, which can be misleading. To avoid this ambiguity, hit the "Expand All" button if you're coming back to a thread that you've already read once before (which un-hides previously-read responses) and hit Reply to the entry to which you actually want to reply. But once the replies get to three or four indents, it can be tough to tell who's talking to who.


                    2. re: cassoulady
                      SuperFineSugar Sep 27, 2009 01:43 PM

                      It's a 20th anniversary event. I don't think there was one last year. But it does look very good. I believe they are expecting 2,000 people.

                  2. Chris VR Sep 24, 2009 06:42 AM

                    To heck with that. Spend $10 more and go to this one http://www.bu.edu/foodandwine/bigeven...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Chris VR
                      pastrytroll Sep 24, 2009 08:52 AM

                      Thanks for the reminder, Chris! I need to sign up! And only $10 more than the Phantom booth-at-the-fair food!

                      1. re: pastrytroll
                        cassoulady Sep 24, 2009 09:10 AM

                        Wow, I havent heard of the BU event- did anyone go last year? what did you think?

                    2. aadesmd Sep 23, 2009 10:13 PM


                      1. cassoulady Sep 22, 2009 11:42 AM

                        If you are simply looking for a chance to have outdoor food, I suggest going to the jazzfest this coming weekend. They have music, food vendors etc. It was fun last year.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: cassoulady
                          Joanie Sep 22, 2009 01:03 PM

                          But don't you have to pay to get into the jazzfest then for the food? I'd just wait for the Harvard Sq. Oktoberfest. Lord knows it'll have more and better stuff than the Allston Village St. Fair last Sun. which had next to nothing.

                          1. re: Joanie
                            cassoulady Sep 22, 2009 01:10 PM

                            the jazz fest is free (you pay for food you buy, but its free to attend and listen to music look a vendors). This is not gourmet food, but I cant imagine the Phantom thing is gourmet. The jazzfest had some interesting ethic food carts last year. I had a papusa and a samosa ( two different carts).

                            1. re: cassoulady
                              greygarious Sep 23, 2009 10:50 AM

                              Unless it's been within the last couple of years, when I haven't watched PG, I realized that I don't recall their ever reviewing or promoting and Indian or Japanese restaurant, much less the more uncommon ethnic cuisines represented in the Boston area. Americanized Chinese and Latin seem to be as far afield as they stray.

                        2. d
                          derekj Sep 22, 2009 10:59 AM

                          Curiosity drove me to try it last year.
                          The worst waste of money imaginable. Once inside, you wait in line forever for each vendor, and the food is godawful. In two hours, I managed only 3 booths, gave up and went out to a nice dinner. BTW, I didn't notice anything "hip" about it.

                          1. MC Slim JB Sep 22, 2009 10:39 AM

                            A lot of the usual Phantom suspects on this year's vendor list: http://foodfest.phantomgourmet.com/seeFood.aspx

                            Can't say a lot of that food excites me, but it does seem pretty consistent with what they cover on the show and who advertises on it.


                            3 Replies
                            1. re: jjbourgeois
                              MC Slim JB Sep 23, 2009 05:42 AM

                              To be fair, they're not all hideous. I like Al's State Street Subs, Carl's Steak Subs, Flatbread Co. Pizza, Lucky's, La Verdad (though all they're offering is chips and salsa), New Bridge Cafe and Sausage Guy. I think Summer Shack has its moments (not sure if shrimp boil is one of them) and I'm not an Upper Crust hater like some here (I've had good pies at the Beacon Hill and South End outlets). But I can think of a couple of better things to do on a crisp fall Saturday than stand in line for Kowloon's "Saugus wings".


                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                Blumie Sep 23, 2009 09:00 AM

                                Hey, don't knock 'em til you've tried 'em: food from the little known Saugus region of China can be quite tasty!

                                1. re: Blumie
                                  MC Slim JB Sep 23, 2009 11:10 AM

                                  I tasted a dish at Patriot Place the other night at Tavolino (decent pizza, horrible otherwise) called "Tuscan wings". It was a credit neither to Buffalo nor Florence.


                            2. n
                              nasilemak Sep 22, 2009 03:51 AM

                              Why not spend that money on a food crawl instead in a neighborhood like Chinatown or Allston? That would be more satisfying and just as exciting.

                              1. c
                                Cheffrank Sep 21, 2009 12:44 PM

                                If you are going for the food, no. If you want to check out a lot if young people drinking and flirting, maybe. I made the mistake of going oonce and will not do it again.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Cheffrank
                                  jgg13 Sep 22, 2009 07:43 AM

                                  Is it really that much of a hip scene? I always laugh when they show clips of people dancing, and otherwise looking like they're at a purple frat party ... figuring that they managed to capture all 20 seconds that it happened.

                                  1. re: jgg13
                                    Joanie Sep 22, 2009 08:01 AM

                                    Drinking and flirting doesn't necessarily mean a hip scene. Those ads with everyone dancing in purple *do* make me laugh tho.

                                    1. re: Joanie
                                      jgg13 Sep 22, 2009 08:42 AM

                                      I guess Cheffrank's post made me picture the phantom fest as being kind of like HarpoonFest in the last several years. If you haven't been recently, it is basically like a pickup bar/meat market (complete with people coming dressed as if they were going to such a place) but at a brewery. Pretty surreal.

                                      In contrast, I've been assumign that the phantom things were full of middle aged, generally overweight people (hey, that sounds like me!) milling around in really long lines trying to keep their screaming babies quiet. Oh, and maybe for about 15 seconds the cameraman would inspire some young people to dance around for a commercial :)

                                      1. re: jgg13
                                        yumyum Sep 22, 2009 10:47 AM

                                        When is the HarpoonFest this year?

                                        1. re: yumyum
                                          jgg13 Sep 22, 2009 11:30 AM

                                          Looks like the next one is 10/2 & 10/3 (harpoonbrewery.com). I'd quit going altogether, but for a while was getting a bunch of free passes to the Friday night session ... since it was free to get in, we'd go right when it opened and once the DB patrol would show up we'd just leave w/o feeling like we wasted our money. That connection dried up, so back to not going.

                                        2. re: jgg13
                                          CookieLee Sep 22, 2009 11:16 AM

                                          no babies allowed.

                                  2. p
                                    Pegmeister Sep 21, 2009 10:23 AM

                                    I have to admit to being tempted once, and actually took a walk over to check it out. Once I saw the sea of people, I just turned around. $40 to stand in line for a bite, why would you?

                                    1. b
                                      BlueTrain84 Sep 21, 2009 08:27 AM

                                      Nope, the food being served is never worth even $25, it's more of a social event than something that is food-based.

                                      1. t
                                        treb Sep 21, 2009 06:40 AM

                                        Spend $40. at a restaurant where the propriator will appreciate you by giving you some great chow. The PG boys are in it for themselves and the offerings are very lame.

                                        1. j
                                          jjbourgeois Sep 21, 2009 05:38 AM

                                          Definitely not worth it. Unless you have absolutely nothing better to do, and I mean absolutely nothing to do.

                                          1. t
                                            three of us Sep 20, 2009 02:58 PM

                                            Well, what are you looking for? If it's chowish food and amidst fellow chow folk, save your money. If you want to knock back some drinks, check out the guys/gals, eat okay grub . . . maybe it's worth thinking about if you don't have a lot going on that night.

                                            1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps Sep 20, 2009 02:37 PM


                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                DoubleMan Sep 20, 2009 04:20 PM


                                                1. re: DoubleMan
                                                  Delhiwala Sep 21, 2009 08:56 AM

                                                  Do not waste your money.

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