The line was already curving around the block at 6:00 last Thursday night, as savy, opinionated New Yorkers who call themselves “Yelpers,” waited in the bitter cold for the foodie fun and gastronomic glory that awaited them inside.

Yelp–as most are surely familiar–is a national website that, according to their motto, “connects people with great local businesses.”  Yet as blithely as Yelp has grown, it’s really the reviews that rock out the website, making it a source for independent, unbiased, tell it like it is advice on everything from chic restaurants to shady dentists (and whatever took you in between).

True to their devotion to the “little-guy,” Yelp threw a party that was open to the public, free admission, and just an old fashioned good time.  Despite the ever-present New York black, many party goers were festively attired, and who’s face doesn’t light up like a christmas wreath when simultaneously handed a glass of bubbly and an ice cream cone?

Which brings me to the food, undoubtedly the pièce de résistance of the affair.  Warned by the invitation that we should be prepared to start “packing on the holiday pounds” a little early this year, at least 25 booths of tasty treats, ranging from Persian meze to Indian pizza to old-fashioned layer cakes.  That’s not even counting the open beer bars, the hard ciders and, have I mentioned the champange?

Personal highlights were the sumptuous shrimp rolls handed out by Luke’s Lobster, the root vegetable terrine by Fat Radish (the only vegan option that I found), and killer gorgonzola pear pizza from the pizza punks at L’assoBrooklyn Ice Cream Factory scooped its way to many a reveler’s heart that night, but mine was given entirely over to The Spot Dessert Bar for the the stand out of the affair: free form cheese-cake mousse, with blueberry compote, fresh grapefruit and salty-butter crumbles (they had a more concise name for it, but my brain dissolved into dessert bliss).  I am not one for choosing sweet over savory, nor am I ever one for cheesecake, but this, dear readers, was transcendent.

If you could still roll your belly over to fun and games, there was plenty to be had.  Vintage-style photo booths punctuated the crowds, and Chelsea Piers set up a golfing range in one corner.  In another corner, a mini-spa offered free hand massages, to ease your poor, little digits out of the stress of picking up so many bites upon delicious bites.

– Ava Fedorov