By Sabina Mollot
On Saturday, Gramercy residents and foodies got to sample dishes from over 20 local restaurants, which were all participating in the second Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood event.
The outdoor food tasting event and fundraiser for the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates took place along one block on Irving Place with plenty of foot traffic despite some rain later on.
Tickets ranged from $30-$80 in price with the proceeds going to two local schools: PS 40 and School of the Future.
Terry Dougherty, a longtime Gramercy resident, was one of those who’d gotten a ticket.
“It seemed successful last year and it’s something I look forward to,” he said. “I enjoy all kinds of things that promote businesses.”
Another guest was Larry Oberfeld, who lives on the Upper East Side.
“It’s a nice way to sample all the different restaurants in the neighborhood,” said Oberfeld. “It’s a different thing to do when the weather’s nice.”
This year, some of the participating restaurants were A Spice Lane, Almayass, The Stand comedy club, Friend of a Farmer, Paul & Jimmy’s, Big Daddy’s, Casa Mono, Ponty Bistro, Ichabod’s and Ainsworth Park.
Kaitlin Prince, an events co-director at Ainsworth Park, said the restaurant wanted to participate to promote a recent revamping of its menu and atmosphere. Previously, Ainsworth had been known mainly as a high-end sports bar. Now, said Prince, there are more families having parties and couples making the restaurant a destination for dates. Additionally, there’s a more extensive cocktail menu and an expanded burger menu and the restaurant now sells 700 of them a week. At Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood, the restaurant served up sliders though they were plain, rather than Ainsworth’s signature mac and cheese burgers, and homemade barbecue potato chips.
“We would have done it, but it can get a little messy,” said Prince, of the mac and cheese.
Other participating eateries were those who’d been at TOGN before and said it helped bring in new business. A few of them were City Crab & Seafood Company, which was serving up smoked octopus and watermelon. Dos Caminos, which now has four locations in the city (the Gramercy one on Park Avenue South being the first) was serving guacamole with fall fruit. Giorgio’s of Gramercy served cauliflower puree with balsamic glaze over black or forbidden rice. Irving Farm poured cups of a fruit infused coffee from El Salvador.
Another restaurant, Exki NYC, was participating for the first time. One of the manager, Danny Taveras, said the casual Belgian restaurant was already expanding with another location set to open in October on 20th Street and Madison. Currently, there is only one U.S.-based Exki; there are others in Luxembourg and Paris. At each location, the farm to table concept is a focus with the restaurant using locally grown vegetables and locally produced meat and fish.
Another new participant was Farm 2 Me, a company that distributes food from local makers and growers to stores and restaurants. One of those makers, Squish, was at the table with marshmallow cakes in flavors like banana pudding and peanut butter jelly time.
Later, Alan Krevis, president of the GNA, didn’t respond to T&V’s request for comment on how much the event had raised. However, on Saturday, over 200 tickets had been sold by the time the four-hour event was half over.
(Photos by Sabina Mollot)