The weekend before last took us to Martha’s Vineyard for an impromptu visit with my husband’s aunt, who spends her summers on the Vineyard. Aunt Belleruth was a great guide and treated us to some of the island’s best-known eats. Highlights included scallops, clams and chowder at The Bite in Menemsha and dinner at Atria in Edgartown. She also tipped us off to a few culinary destinations to check out when we return (hopefully) for a longer visit – State Road, Art Cliff Diner, and lobster rolls from Grace Church.
We travelled to the Vineyard on a new ferry that runs directly to Oak Bluffs from NYC. Ten hours on a ferry provided me with a lot of time to catch up on blog posts, the most belated of which is my review of the Taste of the Lower East Side (TOTLES), which I attended in early May(!). One of my clients is on the board of Grand Street Settlement, which hosts the event, so a colleague (a fellow foodie) and I attended to support him. The TOTLES is a great event, and I recommend it highly to those who can stomach the $150 price tag on the tickets.
My colleague and I dutifully tasted and compared the food being served by the 40+ participating restaurants. Here’s our take….
Top honors went to Clinton St. Baking Co. & Restaurant. On our first pass, Clinton St. was serving cottage fries with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and caviar (I skipped the caviar) – lovely. Later in the evening, the restaurant transitioned to dessert and served scrumptious ice cream sandwiches. Clinton St. gets the nod as much for the quality of the two items served as for the effort put forth to serve an appetizer and a dessert.
Other top picks included:
- Allen & Delancey – Spanish mackerel with spiced yogurt, pickled cucumber and dill (former A&D chef Kyle Bailey was serving up this dish)
- barrio chino – Tacos de arrachera and tacos de chorizo y papas (added to The List…review coming)
- Kuma Inn – Sautéed Chinese sausage with Thai chili-lime sauce (Kuma Inn was added to The List on the virtue of this dish)
- Loreley Restaurant & Biergarten – Smoked bratwurst and weisswurst with beer-braised sauerkraut; Gaffel Kolsch and Jever Pilsner beers (kudos to Loreley for being the only stand with a food/alcohol pairing)
- Macondo – “Chimichurri Chico” (short ribs, peppers, manchego and cabbage in a pan de bono)
- Porchetta – Namesake roasted pork
- Salt Bar – Honey-glazed dates wrapped in bacon (I had THREE of these) and cauliflower soup
- Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop – Toasted brioche point with avocado mash, bacon crumble, herbed mayonnaise and plum tomato topped with cilantro (the cutest darn mini-sandwich you’ve ever seen)
- wd-50 – Chef Wylie Dufresne (noted for his presence rather than for the sunflower-miso soup with shiitake and malt that he was serving).
Restaurants that should have known better included Bacaro – the restaurant’s salt cod over polenta was so unappetizing that I removed the restaurant from The List – and Shang, whose wuxi pork toro puffs with wasabi sour cream looked much better than they tasted.
My only complaint about an otherwise extremely well-run event was the wine, which was provided by Barefoot…call me a wine snob, but $150 should get you a better glass of wine. The Taste of the Upper West Side has done a nice job incorporating NY state wine producers in to their event, whereas most of the drinks available at the TOTLES were “brought to you” by a spirits company. A minor gripe. All in all, this was a really fun event for a great cause!