Disclaimer: In exchange for an event review, I was offered one press ticket.
On May 19th, 2017, the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 W 18th St. between 6th and 7th Avenues) Manhattan, New York played host to The Village Voice’s Choice Eats. The Village Voice, established in 1955 in Greenwich Village as a source for alternative news, has held The Village Voice’s Choice Eats festival every year since 2007; restaurant critics have selected one dish each from around fifty eateries throughout New York City for attendees to sample. “VIP” and press patrons were admitted about an hour before everyone else. Lastly, sponsors this year included the Japanese beer company Asahi, and coffee cold-brewers STōK.
Although the layout of the The Village Voice’s Choice Eats was generally fine, and the setting at the Metropolitan Pavilion not too claustrophobic, it wasn’t without its issues. There weren’t enough standing tables at which to enjoy the food (indeed, it seemed as if there was a lot of empty space, ostensibly to preempt overcrowding), and once the standard ticket-holders started pouring in, lines started becoming predictably ridiculous, often getting in the way of lines at other booths. I did appreciate that plenty of water was available, courtesy of Polar.
Jumping right into the main event, the food was mostly underwhelming. Yes, The Village Voice’s Choice Eats is known for offering a wide array of cuisines and dishes to try. That’s a good thing. However, there were more misses than hits; unlike previous posts, I’ll only specify what I thought were the better options of the night:
Before checking out any of the booths at The Village Voice’s Choice Eats, I knew that Untamed Sandwiches would be one of two safe bets (more on the second later). Having been introduced to them on a Midtown West food tour two years ago, I figured that their beef meatball with black garlic butter and whipped goat cheese sandwich would be nice…and it was. Too bad they were limited to one dish, as they’ve got good cookies, too.
To the left, Obicà mozzarella with truffles, and panna cotta with passion fruit. I would’ve been set with the Untamed sandwich and the panna cotta, but no, the latter wasn’t the other safe bet of the night. Keep trying.
OK, I’m cheating here a bit. This seafood appetizer was lackluster, but I was admiring the chapulines – grasshoppers – in the background. I hear United will start serving them in coach next year.
Sigmund’s Pretzels had a churro version with melted chocolate on the side. Mmm. Though, I can’t say their feta olive pretzel was even worthy of one “m.”
Nom Wah had jellyfish salad with peanuts. Although this was borderline sweet – I typically only like sweets once the meal is over – it was also umami, pleasantly crunchy, and most importantly, edible. As you may come to notice, more desserts won me over than savory bites.
But, Horchata’s elote, or corn with chipotle mayo, cotija cheese, chile de árbol was a rare bright spot.
Originally established inside of a car wash near the Intrepid museum, Underwest Donuts contributed a couple of flavors that night. I chose the halvah, because lately I have been craving sesame. It was rather sweet, unsurprisingly, but still did the essence of halvah some justice.
We’ve finally reached the other safe bet, also known as Ample Hills Creamery. Their presence has been expanding through NYC over the past couple of years. Scales, be damned. That night, they were offering Ooey Gooey Butter Cake and Chocolate Milk & Cookies. If they only had a third, peanut buttery flavor (allergies, be damned), I’d have never left.
The Village Voice’s Choice Eats served up a few good meals last week. Still, I hope that next year’s event will offer more in the way of tables, vegetarian options, and more non-alcoholic beverages.
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