A Taste of Fifth at The Grand Prospect Hall
Walking along Fifth Avenue toward The Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn, the site for this year’s A Taste of Fifth, flyers for the event hung in shop and restaurant all down the street. While food is the highlight of A Taste of Fifth 2015, the event is really about celebrating and promoting local businesses, whether they’re a boutique clothing store like Diana Kane, a unique gift shop like Pink Olive, or child enrichment program like NY Kids Club. This event is about local business pride, and it’s certainly felt before even walking through the door.
The space at The Grand Prospect Hall is huge and grandiose (perhaps a touch too much so), and the event spans three large, connected spaces. The first room, the ballroom, is not only the entrance but it’s also the location of the dessert booths, empty tables for dining and any other extracurricular things like musical entertainment and a photo booth. To the right, the event stretches off into two more rooms where the bulk of the food and drink are found.
The event doesn’t provide a map or a key of booth locations and, with this wonky wedding-style layout, it is initially a bit off-putting. This ruins the whole seek-and-destroy strategy of finding the places that online research says are the most appealing. The approach turns into something a bit more natural, walking around and pursuing offerings instead of restaurants. Despite early reservations, no map turns into a blessing in disguise.
As far as the food, there’s plenty of it. With about 50 booths, the representatives are not shortchanging the customer, often times bringing two or three samples from their menu. Some spots, like La Villa and Coco Roco, have even more samples available and are giving a little bit of everything to passersby, resulting in plate pile-ups at just one station. Options range from all over the spectrum. One booth even has a gluten-free, vegan mini-arepa sample.
Then there are the most notable samples of the night. For drink, there are plenty around, but it’s the hearty samples from the Adirondacks Brewery booths that make the biggest impression. With such a charitable serving and healthy number of options, it’s a nice accompaniment to the food fest.
For food, the booth getting the most positive buzz around the event, and rightfully so, is Benchmark Restaurant. With baby back ribs and a spiced watermelon salad, this is easily one of the best of the night. The meat is moist and fall-off-the-bone good. They’re punched up with flavor from the bourbon BBQ sauce, and the watermelon salad gives the whole thing a nice slice of freshness. It’s definitely a winner.
While far from the best value in terms of dollar spent to number of booths at a NYC food convention, there is still something special about A Taste of Fifth 2015. There is a quality component here. It doesn’t feel like an event for scarfing down as much as possible; it’s about seeing the best of what local businesses, both young and old, have to offer, and it’s an experience that really delivers on that effort.
For further information about A Taste of Fifth 2015 visit here.