Restaurant Tasting Bonanza Offers Best of UWS This Weekend
By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — Foodies get a rare chance to sample the Upper West Side's best restaurants all in one place this weekend at New Taste of the Upper West Side.
The two-day tasting marathon on Friday and Saturday features dishes from more than 35 neighborhood restaurants, including critically-acclaimed Dovetail, Jean-Georges and Bar Boulud.
Chefs will serve up their dishes under a tent on Columbus Avenue, between West 76th and 77th streets.
The eating kicks off Friday night with "Comfort Classics," where chefs try their hand at preparing comfort food.
But the menu isn't exactly limited to predictable choices like macaroni and cheese, says Barbara Adler, executive director of Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District which runs the event.
Dovetail will be serving honey carrot cake with sumac cream cheese frosting, Five Napkin Burger will dish up beef sliders, Accademia di Vino will have pizza with ramps and bacon, and Citrus Bar and Grill will serve crab cakes and skirt steak tortilla wraps.
On Saturday night, chefs will prepare dishes with locally grown ingredients at "Best of the West." Locally-sourced dishes will include a Montauk lobster brioche by Nick & Toni's Cafe and a Long Island duck confit by Columbus Tavern.
Tickets for Comfort Classics are $85 and Best of the West costs $125.
But Adler says the pricey admission is worth it. Both tastings are all-you-can-eat, with unlimited wine, beer and spirits. Live music plays and ticketholders dine at tables with linen tablecloths and flowers. The tent is the size of a football field and it's lighted and carpeted, Adler said.
"The tickets are expensive, and people think we make a tremendous amount of money, but we don't because we don't skimp on putting on a first-class event," Adler said. "It's very upscale in every respect."
Columbus Avenue BID uses profits from New Taste of the Upper West Side for neighborhood beautification projects, Adler said.
In March, the BID donated $10,000 to renovate the cafeteria in the school buiding shared by I.S. 44, West Prep Academy, The Computer School and Anderson school. New Taste of the Upper West Side is held in the building's schoolyard.
Now in its fourth year, New Taste of the Upper West Side celebrates the neighborhood's improving culinary landscape, Adler said.
"People used to ridicule the Upper West Side for not having any really good restaurants, but then along came all these fantastic chefs who opened restaurants at the Time Warner Center and on Columbus Avenue, and suddenly it became a foodie heaven," Adler said.