Blog: Taste of Long Island City 2013
Take a picturesque springtime evening, a waterfront view of the Manhattan skyline, and more than fifty restaurants, food and liquor purveyors and bring all of these elements together under one massively constructed outdoor tent and you get the “8th Annual Taste of Long Island City.” Tuesday night, hundreds of excited guests headed to Gantry Plaza State Park at sunset for two full hours of eating, drinking, and mingling around a completely jam packed space surrounded by live music courtesy of Champagne Jerry and a bevy of silent auction items to benefit The Chocolate Factory Theater, advocates of the local arts.
Arriving just as the general admission session began, the event space was already crowded, with the energetic buzz inside the tents spilling out into the streets surrounding the park. Attendees were handed orange t-shirts upon entering as well as frisbees, creatively utilized as plates when handling only one restaurant’s sample just wouldn’t do. While bottlenecks were a bit of an issue at last year’s event, moving around on this night was very manageable and waits at many of the notable participating eateries were minimal. Additionally, it should be noted this year’s event planners did a fantastic job of arranging the layout of the space with beer and spirits vendors placed intermittently between many of the savory and sweet purveyors so that you weren’t forced to head toward a particular part of the tent for anything you desired and guests were free to roam about at will.
Like most of the attendees, we made M. Wells among our very first stops and the dinette did not disappoint with a makeshift raw bar doling out freshly shucked oysters. With a dollop of cocktail sauce and a spoonful of their salty ramps mignonette, we slurped the succulent shellfish down, pausing momentarily to chat with the restaurant’s friendly crew on hand. We also made sure to drop by craft beer bar Alewife whose delicately soft ‘Pulled Pork Rillettes’ were decorated with a delicious blueberry pomegranate barbecue sauce, meshing savory and sweet together brilliantly. Riverview captured the evening’s lengthiest line which wrapped toward the “Taste’s” entrance. The waterfront spot was serving a veritable smorgasbord of eats from “Spring Rolls” to “Bluepoint Oysters” to their insanely delectable “Scallop Ceviche,” an immediate favorite of ours.
In between gorging ourselves with any item we could get our hands on, pours of Century Cellars’ “Cabernet Sauvignon” went down incredibly smooth. With aromatic hints of cherries and a touch of vanilla, the soft wine paired well with many of the heartier meat dishes throughout the evening. Wine aside, we were pleasantly surprised by the number of distinctive beers available at this year’s event with the likes of Founders Brewing Company, Rockaway Brewing Company, Brooklyn Brewery and others filling cup after cup for us to slug down. Refreshing pours of red and white sangria courtesy of nearby Dominie’s Hoek also especially hit the spot during the seasonally warm evening.
Pressed with our selection for the “Taste of Long Island City’s” finest offering, LIC Market’s “Proscuitto Cotto” sandwich proved tough to beat. Enveloped by a soft brioche bun, the cured meat slices were pasted with a rich spread of foie gras butter in a decadent combination of different flavors and was our winner of the night, hands down. Runner-up status belongs to Cavo however, as the Greek restaurant’s offerings of a “Chilean Sea Bass Ceviche” topped with capers and a summery “Watermelon-Feta Salad” were both refreshing and unconventional takes on would-be seasonal dishes. Other samples like Alobar’s “Pulled Pork Sliders,” The Astor Room’s selection of quiches, Rest-au-Rant’s “Bacon Jam on Cucumber Wheel,” and the overstuffed “Steak Sandwiches” from S Prime were each savory and scrumptious in their own right.
In between chowing down on such a tremendous variety of different tastes, guests could be seen hob-nobbing with the likes of NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall in the center of the room, as well as Long Island City resident and Howard Stern Show producer Richard Christy, a perennial attendee at the events year after year. For an eighth outstanding year, the “Taste of Long Island City” was another complete success for both the attendees and as a fundraiser for The Chocolate Factory’s continuance. But the prevailing theme however was that the event proved that there are some truly terrific restaurants and places to visit in Long Island City that make the short ride on the 7 train one worth taking.
- Jane Van Arsdale