Let’s face it. When it comes to eating in Park Slope, 5th Ave is the obvious destination. Yeah yeah. There are a handful of cool places to dine on 7th and recently it’s gotten better, but when it boils down to it, 5th Ave TOTALLY wins. Shit, the strip’s even got its own annual food & drink event -- A Taste of 5th Ave.
This year’s edition of the Taste of 5th took place this past Wednesday amongst the gaudy splendor of The Grand Prospect Hall. We make your dreams come true! For $35 ($20 of which went to a charity of your choice--Brooklyn Arts Exchange wassup!) one could sample a dish or two or three from thirty-seven 5th Ave establishments. Actually, scratch that. Thirty-six. While thirty-seven were listed as attending, I didn’t see a booth for a certain yet-to-open swine-themed bar anywhere.
I started off my evening in the ballroom, where all of the dessert-based dishes were housed.
Since you should always have dessert first, I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie (made with beer) & chocolate beer pairing from Bierkraft & pulled up a chair at one of the tables to take in the room.
As I sat down, an older woman took a seat next to me. She must have been a waitress or some shit in her younger days because she somehow got five small plates to the table by herself. We chatted for a while as I munched on my mediocre cookie, sipped my shot of chocolate beer & watched a large chorus of children file down the side of the ballroom up onto the stage, where they sang some songs that the kids are probably listening to these days...CHORUS-STYLE.
From there, I went to the first room off the side of the ballroom & grabbed something from Sidecar called “graviax,” which was house-cured salmon, capers, red onion, lemon-dill sour cream on a flax seed toast point. Though Sidecar has a quality menu, these were totally meh. It got better from there though.
My next plate was a B-themed trio from Backyard, Benchmark & Bonnie’s Grill.
Backyard had what was probably my favorite sample of the night -- fig & blue cheese on flatbread. The sweetness from the fig paired with the sharp saltiness of blue cheese definitely did it for me. I wasn’t as impressed by Benchmark’s pastrami-cured short rib with kraut. The short rib had the flavor of a high-quality pastrami but the kraut was a little off. Of course, Bonnie’s had their famous buffalo wings. The one I tried had a lot of white meat & wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy, so that was cool.
At this point, I decided to grab a drink and a few more plates, and head out to the patio.
Over at the Beauty Bar booth, they were serving up a cocktail called the “Paul Mitchell Swizzle” which was basically an enhanced mojito, with junk like pomegranate & rosewater in it. For my two dishes, I got some guac & chips from Piramide and a plate of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes & basil from M&S Prime Meats. The Piramide guac was creamy, with big chunks of avocado in it but I forgot to grab a fork inside & I didn‘t feel like giving up my spot, so I tried to do a bootleg fold-the-tomato move to eat M&S Prime Meats’ dish. It was messy but it was worth it -- the mozzarella was soft & fresh. Was it the best I’ve ever had? Not even close. It was good though.
I followed that up by getting pulled pork country nachos from Lobo & ceviche from Coco Roco and taking them back out to the patio. With the nachos, the cheese wasn't all that great but the pulled pork was definitely sufficient, especially for nachos. Once I’d finished off that, I realized I forgot to get a fucking fork again, so I took my ceviche inside & grabbed a Smuttynose Star Island Single.
At this point, there were no forks anywhere, so I picked up some chopsticks & got some sort of crunchy salmon-topped roll and a crunchy California roll from Kiku. Both were better-than-average & the crunch was a nice touch but they ain’t winning any awards. As for the ceviche, it was pretty damn good, as the seafood bits had a nice softness to them & the citrus juices were pleasantly tart. Food critic pedigree be damned...I swear the crunchy things in it were Corn Nuts.
Since I’ve never actually got my ass to al di la, I got a plate of their farro salad, which had crumbled feta on it. HATED IT. The farro pieces were fine but there was an overwhelming sour taste to it that didn’t sit well with me.
Luckily, I had a bagel slice with shrimp salad from Bagel World available to sorta cleanse the palate.
About an hour-and-a-half into stuffing my face, my 135-pound frame started to hit the wall. Still. I tried to soldier on.
OBVIOUSLY, the best way to counteract a bulging stomach is to have a smoke on the patio & follow it up with mushroom mac & cheese from Chip Shop and a smoked BBQ rib from Blue Ribbon. Wicked smaht.
Chip Shop normally serves up some damn good mac & cheese but, in this instance, it was a bit salty for my tastes, and the mushrooms didn’t really do anything flavor-wise. With the recent Park Slope BBQ upswing/hype, I was psyched about trying Blue Ribbon’s smoked BBQ ribs for the first time. They were aight but, to be honest, after trying ribs from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que & Smoke Joint, I can’t deal with ribs that are overly sauced & don’t fall off the bone.
…and then my stomach could take no more, which sucked but, y’know…there are starving children in Africa & Arizona and whatnot, so I felt okay about not continuing to gorge myself. Sure, if they had a proper vomitorium downstairs, I‘d have been able to go on.
I’m pretty sure they could easily tuck one behind the topless, armless statue on the lower level.
In the absence of said proper vomitorium, I missed out on stuff like Fleishers' lamb sausages & dipping sauce and the chicken & beef meatball sliders from Fornino. I couldn’t even try 7-11’s assorted sandwiches! In fact, I was so stuffed I ignored snack awesomeness like Caramelo’s chocolate truffles and Sky Ice’s sweet & savory homemade ice cream. CURSE YOU, CRUEL GUSTATORY GODS! CURSE YOU, GRAND PROSPECT HALL FOR HAVING STUNNING CHANDELIERS BUT NO PROPER VOMITORIUM!
Good job with the Taste of Fifth Ave though.
Read way more from Shawn at eatdrinksnack.com.