‘Choice Eats’ Recap: 25 March 2014 - Pier 36, New York

[31 March 2014]

By Sachyn Mital

Contributing Editor

The 7th Annual Choice Eats event presented by the Village Voice was held at Pier 36 this year (the same place ATP NYC was at) instead of the Lexington Avenue Armory location it had been at in past years. But that didn’t hinder it from being an outstanding success and a delicious foodie event—unless you arrived late and missed out. As before, purchasing a VIP ticket is the way to go, as it allows one to avoid the massive lines (general admission folks were still entering 40 minutes after the doors opened for them) and gets you some quieter space as well as a few more food options. But with over 70 places to eat and drink from on the general floor, it was hard to not find a favorite.

At some point, certain restaurants in New York become popular enough that they are amongst the top in their respective cuisine. The Meatball Shop (Beef Meatballs with Classic Tomato Sauce) is one example of that kind of place, and though its offering wasn’t something I would try (I don’t eat beef), this chain was placed at table #1. Other notable restaurants that I heard buzz about and had eaten from prior to this night included Luke’s Lobster (Maine Crab Rolls), whose long line formed during the VIP hour and stayed that way, and The Kati Roll Company (Chicken Tikka Roll and others) with tasty Indian fillings on paratha-like bread and Coppelia (Corn Cake and Shredded Chicken Arepas). Although I sampled from the above, I attended ‘Choice Eats’ with the goal of exploring new flavors from new (to me) restaurants. Well, it wasn’t just me, I attended with two others and as a foodie crew, we tried from different places yet we were in agreement on several favorites.

Our second favorite sweet spot, was the Brooklyn Kolache Co, which offered up five different kinds of Czech-style buns or pastries, aka kolachs (thanks to commenter HamburgerHelpless for the name). When we went back later to try, they were out of the savory buns and only had sweets, which was fine as they were delectable, moist and just sweet enough. Completely different from ice cream, so you could really have both in one sitting.

The second favorite restaurant was Grandaisy Bakery also in the VIP area (is this because there was more chance to eat leisurely or because the portions were somewhat larger?). They offered up several different flat-bread style pizzas, the best of which was the yellow-squash covered variety.

Grandaisy Bakery

Grandaisy Bakery

Our favorite “sweets” came from Ample Hills Creamery, though we couldn’t decide if we liked the Salted Crack Caramel or the Gather Round the Campfire (think s’mores) ice cream the best. Either way, you can’t lose.

Ample Hills

Ample Hills

Our second favorite sweet spot was a restaurant I blanked on getting the name from apparently (and the event guide doesn’t make it clear). But they offered up five different kinds of buns or pastries, which I got a picture of (feel free to comment with the name of the place). When we went back later to try, they were out of the savory buns and only had sweets, which was fine as they were delectable.

With regards to alcoholic drinks, there was less concerted tasting amongst us given taste preferences, but if I had to choose, my favorite spirits-based cocktail was the “local harvest” from American Harvest which blended basil, lime, cucumber and agave with their brand of vodka.

Quick notes:

* Visit Facebook to see some additional photos from ‘Choice Eats’!
* Some restaurants were running out of food samples at 8 o’clock, one hour after general admission doors. VIP-area wasn’t immune to the belly’s or sweet-tooths, of people, Doughnut Plant was the first out upstairs.
* Cardboard trays dubbed “souvenir trays” were functional and ran out, but really should have been called “branded garbage”.
* Charles’ Country Fried Chicken seemed the best prepared for the amount of attention and was able to sustain long lines even at 9 pm.

Charles' Country Fried Chicken

Charles’ Country Fried Chicken

Pre-arrivals

Pre-arrivals

Doughnut Plant

Doughnut Plant

Lobster Line

Luke’s Lobster line

Crowds

Crowds

Crowds

For the full list of ‘Choice Eats’ 2014 restaurants, click this link. Tickets and information for ‘Choice Streets’, the food-truck based sister of ‘Choice Eats’, are available for the May 7th event.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/180395-choice-eats-recap-25-march-2014-pier-36-new-york/