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Nov 3, 2012 05:20 PM

Friday night pop up dinners in Niagara-on-the-Lake

There's a new pop up dinner series on Friday nights in NOTL at the super cute Balzac's in old town.

Week 1 (Nov. 16) is Adam from El Gastronomo Vagabundo. Week 2 (Nov. 23) is Tide and Vine. So if you're visiting on a Friday night, this could be a fun alternative to a winery restaurant, and certainly a better bet than anything on the main drag of old town NOTL.

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  1. Those sound like a great opportunity to enjoy some of my favourite food truck food sitting down!
    Thanks for posting, TorontoJo!

    1 Reply
    1. DO you know anything else than what is at that link? I see you need to have a $5 "counterculture" card to be part of it. Do you think it will be a set menu? I can't find any details on with EGV or T&V website either.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ylsf

        Hmm, I don't know much more than what's on the web page. I do know that it's counter service (hence the name) rather than table service, so I'm guessing that they'll have a menu for you to select from -- very much like they do at the food trucks themselves. But that's just a guess. If I find out more, I'll post here.

        1. re: TorontoJo

          Ah, k, I was confused by the "seating" times. I thought that the "counterculture" card was some other frequent buyer card or discount card, didn't realize it is just related to this event.

          Anyway, will keep an eye out on this thread for more info

          1. re: ylsf

            So El Gastro is keeping mum on the menu for this Friday, but this article implies that they will be expanding beyond their normal truck menu:


            And given how much Adam loves the flavours of SE Asia, I would expect to see stuff in that vein.

        2. re: ylsf

          Just booked for the Friday event on Nov 23rd, with Tide & Vines. Looks like it's going to be oyster-themed with lots of wine selection. It's not a set menu but will be plates priced at $15, with vegetarian options. There are two two seatings (5 & 7pm).
          Will report back!

        3. Did anyone go to the first one this past Friday? Curious

          2 Replies
          1. re: ylsf

            We were there on Nov. 23rd for the pop up catered by Tide and Vine.
            There was a one time $5 fee to participate in the event. Cash only. Good, cheap & cheerful bar. Food is not so much. On the menu that day were 4 selections of shucked oyster ($2.5-3), and 4 other dishes ($9-14).
            Servings were Very Small, and service was Very Slow. They were more like amuse-bouche bites. We have no qualms about ordering from the coffee counter and using plastic utensils provided by Balzac's. That was the fun part.
            We tried all the oysters - good quality and similar value to Oyster Boy. The shrimp dumpling and the scallop udons were both disappointing though. We waited a good 30 min for our bite-size food until we realize they had forgotten about our order. The one dumpling in our soup was the size of my pinky. The broth was too salty. The two baked scallops were delicious, but also too salty, and served on top of 1/4 cup of under seasoned udon with canned kimchi.

            The experience was fun, intimate, and lively, but underwhelming. Perhaps this experience was just with the catering company and the size of this venue, but if we had known about the portion size and slow service, we would have just attended with the expectation of food tasting, not supper.

            Price point is high for the overall food quality, but we would probably go back for another round of pre-dinner nibbles since we have already purchased the pass for the event this year.

            1. re: happycamper

              I was there on Friday as well, and agree with your assessment of the food. It was really disappointing, particularly for the price. The single shrimp dumpling was ridiculous. And the kimchi udon noodles was boring and bland (though the kimchi was made by T&V from what I understand). And the noodles were most definitely NOT udon. I don't eat oysters, so that really limited the menu choices for me.

              On the other hand, I loved the atmosphere of the evening. It was warm and intimate and I got to meet and chat with lots of new people.

              I do think that the food quality will vary greatly with the vendor. I heard El Gastro's food last week was excellent. I will go back, if only to have a glass of wine or beer and a nibble. But like you, I will set my expectations accordingly. It will be interesting to see how this event develops. Like the Wednesday night suppermarkets over the summer, I imagine they will get better as they figure things out.

              BTW, I'm pretty sure it's a $5 fee for each event.