New Taste of Upper West Side comforts hungry folks

BY BETH KAISERMAN

When entering a huge tent filled with fine foods from eclectic Upper West Side chefs, it’s important to remember to pace yourself — especially when it’s all comfort food.

Whole Foods Market presented New Taste of the Upper West Side last weekend, a two-night festival celebrating culinary wonders that liven up the Upper West Side. Friday night featured Comfort Classics, hosted by Adam Richman of Man vs. Food and Dylan Lauren of Dylan’s Candy Bar.

Photo by Beth Kaiserman

For a girl who’s been limiting her meat consumption lately, the natural place to start was Five Napkin Burger.

This is one burger joint I’ve never been to, but I’ve perused the menu online, which boasts offerings from matzo ball soup to sushi, and of course burgers.

For the event they served up mini burgers (which I won’t refer to as “sliders,” my least favorite food word) with grilled onions and mayo. This mini morsel of meat did not hit the spot; the meat itself was soggy and the overall taste had a weird tang. One bite in, and I was already cruising for something else.

Photo by Beth Kaiserman

When you have a wide variety of things available to taste, it’s difficult when you find something you really like. Shake Shack didn’t disappoint, serving up a jalapeno-battered corn dog, which I couldn’t resist conquering. It was served alongside a corn relish, but was ultimately delicious on its own. (I even went back for seconds later.) This was my favorite pick of the night.

Once I stopped obsessing over the corn dog, I moved on to other important tasks, like finding a snack to enjoy while waiting in line for Lukes Lobster, which had the longest line in the place. But by the time people pushed and bickered their way to the seafood, the lobster was gone, and I was left with a crab roll that was pretty unsatisfying.

 

At tasting events, it’s hard to say what’s good and what’s bad. You’re not receiving a true replica of what you would be served in each chef’s restaurant. You’re also overwhelmed with trying a ton of things in just a few hours. Therefore, it’s difficult to be overly critical. Still, you expect each chef to put forth his or her best efforts in serving you something memorable.

Photo by Beth Kaiserman

Photo by Beth Kaiserman

Another difficult chore is deciding when to move on to dessert. But once I saw Insomnia Cookies, my fate was sealed.

The standout dessert though was from Eds Chowder House. I was surprised they weren’t serving up one of their signature chowders, but happy with what they presented instead: a not-too-sweet, perfectly comforting bourbon chocolate pudding with a cinnamon spice cream. I’m not a fan of sinfully sweet things, and this had the slightest spice and smoke to it with no overpowering sweetness. “A great way to end a bad week,” said the lady who served it.

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Shake Shack (Madison Square Park) on Urbanspoon

Ed's Chowder House on Urbanspoon

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