BY HELEN KLEIN & JAIME DEJESUS
With dozens of restaurants on hand serving up their specialties, and between 300 and 400 people in attendance, 2015’s Taste of the Ridge was a success on all fronts.
For attendees, of course, two hours of sampling local restaurants’ signature dishes for just $15 a person was an opportunity not to be missed.
The variety was stellar; equally so the quality of the food dished out in the auditorium at St. Patrick Catholic Academy at table after table representing eateries from Dyker Heights through Bay Ridge.
Despite the best intentions, we only sampled food from about half the restaurants that were on hand to beguile our taste buds – from Italian to Middle Eastern to Asian to down-home American — feasting our eyes on the remainder.
Standouts – and there were many – included Tanoreen’s fabled Brussels Sprouts, which came in first in a survey taken by this paper at the event of attendees’ favorites. Sweet, tart and tender, the Brussels Sprouts are an inspired reinvention of the vegetable, unfolding possibilities in the tiny, tightly furled head that I, for one, was unaware ever existed.
Second place in the Home Reporter/Spectator poll was shared by Kathy’s Place, which offered up comfort desserts such as Rice Pudding as well as fresh fruit salad, and Salty Dog, whose food was so popular that it was gone before we got to their table.
Also yummy were the offerings set out by Cebu, which came in fourth in the paper’s survey. The popular Third Avenue eatery beguiled palates with a Latino-inspired rice dish studded with beans and grilled chicken, and sweet and unctuous Pasta with Pesto and Tomatoes.
We also loved the sesame seed-dusted falafel, hummus and lemon-inflected grilled chicken served up by First Oasis. The clean, clear flavor of the chicken, the creamy hummus and the nutty, tender-in-the-middle, crispy outside falafel were also crowd-pleasers, coming in eighth in our (admittedly) unofficial poll, tied with the offerings from Yellow Hook Grille, including addictive Pierogies stuffed with silken mashed potatoes and dressed with a mushroom sauce, as well as Grotto and Peppino’s.
Other favorites of our included the offerings from Campania – creamy Penne alla Vodka with Chicken, sweet and tender breaded Zucchini sticks and toothpicks skewering tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, garnished with basil and bathed in a balsamic vinaigrette – as well as the pork empanadas from Ho’Brah whose crust was crispy and delicious, while the delicately spiced pork inside was soft and juicy. Speaking of spicy, Ho’Brah also provided a healthy serving of its chili, which was rich in taste and not too hot.
Kettle Black Bar showcased its rightly famous buffalo wings. The chicken is soft and comes right off the bone. But the star of this tasty snack is the sauce, which is just a tad spicy but also very sweet. The sauce distinguishes the wings from the competition. They may be messy, but it’s worth it.
Pipin’s Pub also offered its delicious buffalo wings. Dip them in the blue cheese that was offered and you have yourself an exceptional wing.
Ember’s Steakhouse provided servings of the eatery’s gourmet potato pie, which was creamy and rich in flavor, thanks to the inclusion of both prosciutto and mozzarella.
There was a whole lot of macaroni and cheese on hand. That provided by Mexican restaurant Trace had a crunchy top thanks to its toasted bread crumbs and included five different cheeses. The Wicked Monk offered up two versions of its signature mac and cheese, a vegetarian option as well as one with ham and broccoli. Just one word will suffice to describe them – yum.
We are sure that those who attended will agree that the afternoon was both fun and filling.
And, for those who missed it, there’s always next year.