Toasted ricotta gnocchi with white truffle cream from The Smith
Last weekend, I attended Best of the West, the third and final night of New Taste of the Upper West Side, the annual food event celebrating the chefs and restaurants of the Upper West Side. It was a beautiful evening–though not clear enough for Manhattanhenge, but perfect for the festivities going on under the tent as the sun set and the stars twinkled above the upper Manhattan sky.
This year’s event featured 44 restaurants and many wineries and breweries, serving up tastes of their best dishes and drinks.
I wish I could’ve tried all of the options, but I did my best to eat my way around the entire tent.
The food is definitely the highlight of the evening, and I was happy to try the offerings.
Chopped liver on rye crackers from The Ribbon
Chicken & watercress dumplings from RedFarm
Skuna Bay salmon sliders with pickled pepper relish & aioli on a Martins potato bun from Ed’s Chowder House
House-made stracciatella served over fettunta with a spring rhubarb compote and fresh mint from Cesca Enoteca & Trattoria
Chilled shrimp over farro salad from Sysco Metro NY
Cesare Casella salami station
My vegetarian friend was also happy, as there were a lot of options for vegetarians. In fact, some of my favorite dishes of the evening were vegetarian ones. The chipotle grilled seitan with corn salsa and avocado mousse from Candle Cafe West was a delicious favorite.
Chipotle grilled seitan with corn salsa and avocado mousse from Candle Cafe West
The barbecued turnips, avocado, pumpkin seeds from Dovetail was delicious as well. Our vegetarian favorite was the toasted ricotta gnocchi with white truffle cream from The Smith (and yes, we did have seconds!).
For the sweet tooth, there were a number of options–from classics like brookies at Alice’s Tea Cup and banana pudding
Banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery
and whoopie pies at Magnolia Bakery to beautiful pastry creations like Driscoll strawberry parfait verrine from Jacques Torres
Strawberry parfait verrine from Jacques Torres
and strawberry tiramisu from Jean-Georges.
Strawberry tiramisu from Jean-Georges
The dessert standout was the salted caramel macaron spiked with Remy Martin Cognac 1738 from Mille-Feuille Bakery. Oh, boy, did this have a kick!
Salted caramel & Remy Martin Cognac 1738 macaron from Mille-Feuille Bakery
Best of the West offers a VIP option where doors open an hour earlier, as well as offering other perks like a gift bag of goodies and a private lounge area. I like the VIP option because it is less crowded and there are no lines to wait to try the food. Also, the VIP hour gives you a better opportunity to meet your favorite chefs for a photo and chat.
Lauren Scala, WNBC “Today in New York” host was MC and hosts included Anne Burrell, chef and host of Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America”
Anne Burrell in the VIP lounge
and Marc Murphy, chef and host of Food Network’s “Chopped.”
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the entertainment. As you walked through the tent, you were greeted by glamorous beauties on stilts
and a corde lisse artist a la Cirque du Soleil.
A DJ spinning great house, dance and techno music divided the night with Joe Battaglia and the New York Big Band for a night of Dina music heaven. Some folks danced, especially as the night wore on. And of course, the night ended–too soon–with the band’s rendition of New York, New York.