After the New Taste of the UWS’s Divine Desserts, I didn’t think my tastebuds could handle anymore – that is until the following day for the Best of the West tasting!
The 3rd Annual Best of the West featured over 40 of the Upper West Side’s most celebrated chefs alongside their delicious signature dishes, as well as over 20 wineries, spirit vendors mixing creative cocktails all night along, a 17-piece orchestra, and way too much for your stomach to handle.
The evening was MCed by Sara Gore of WNBC’s LX New York and hosted by nutritionist Ellie Krieger of the Food Network’s Healthy Appetite, who my friend kept staring at saying, “Omigod! She is sooo skinny!” We arrived early for the VIP reception, presented by Nespresso, where we got to take a gander at all of the samples an hour ahead of general admission – and let me tell you, if you’re thinking about attending next year, it’s definitely worth investing in the VIP ticket for the extra time!
Some highlights of my night included the lobster roll from The Mermaid Inn where I had to stalk the station since so many people were snatching them up. Cafe Luxembourg also had their own lobster roll which was slightly less well received, but I appreciated the presentation.
There was also a huge line for Jean-Georges Vongerichten with avocado topped with tuna with an tangy, acidic dressing to bring out the flavors. Blue Ribbon Sushi had a station to custom-make handrolls with your filling. It was just rice wrapped with nori with your choice of fish (tuna, spicy tuna, salmon, yellowtail, etc.) which is pretty standard, but the fish was very freshly prepared!
Calle Ocho had a delicious mixed seafood ceviche. I’ve heard a ton about their great brunch menu, so you’ll definitely find me there at some point this summer. Ed’s Chowder House had a really tasty spicy ahi tuna slider, but I think some additional sauce was needed to add some juiciness.
Taking a break from all the seafood, Carmine’s, true to their huge portions that you find in their restaurants, served up large heaps of eggplant parm – an easy Italian standard, but who doesn’t love a classic done well? Shake Shake grilled their famous burgers, where there was also a short wait for but much better than you usually have to wait for, and also root beer floats, giving back childhood memories. For bolder flavors, Landmarc had a delicious lamb sausage “hot dog” and Kefi had their signature gyros wrapped and ready to be devoured.
Other UWS noteables were Bar Boulud, Fatty Crab, Dovetail, Picholine, Nice Matin, Isabella’s, Rosa Mexicano, Sho Shaun Hergatt, Telepan, and so many more!
Onto dessert! I thought that I would not be able to handle any more dessert after the Divine Desserts from the night before. But c’mon, who are we kidding, dessert is no way to be missed! Magnolia’s made an appearance again with mountains of their cupcakes, banana pudding, and lemon bars! I didn’t even know they made lemon bars, but the inside was amazingly moist (god, I hate that word) and delicious.
Screme Gelato Bar somehow transported their entire array of gelatos in those huge store freezers. They would give me samples of flavors that I didn’t request, which I was at first offended by, but after trying their pain au chocolat flavor, all was forgiven immediately.
GuS Soda (also from yesterday) returned to provide refreshments, along with a slew of wine and spirit vendors, such as Veev, Quintessential, Don Q Rum, Tommy Bahama Rum, Aperol, Zyr Vodka, Prairie Organic Vodka, Fragoli, Heron Hill Winery, Absinthe Ordinaire, Trinchero Family Estates, Agavero Tequila, and so many more!
Though the food has since been digested, we left with some parting gifts from the various sponsors, such as discounts to Whole Foods, Lensi pasta to cook at home, the Zagat guide for major cities across the US as well as one mini one specifically for the Upper West Side, and other shops and stores in the neighborhood.
It was certainly a night that my now spoiled palate will not soon forget! If you missed out, check out the photos in the gallery below, and mark your calendar for next year.