Of course Foodie was at the annual Taste of Fayette event this past Sunday (you didn’t see a guy in a fedora and sunglasses?). Numerous area restaurants all putting their cuisine out there for the people to try? Fuhgeddaboutit. It’s a no-brainer. Foodie simply must attend an event like that. And what does Foodie think of Taste of Fayette, (since he’s apparently still writing in third person and some weird tense)?
Taste of Fayette was mobbed on Sunday and the weather, though it was a little hot, was beautiful. Bands rocked out on a stage by the fountain and when they were taking breaks, a DJ (or somebody’s iPod) cranked out some good tunes. Never thought I’d hear Daft Punk in downtown Fayetteville, but kudos to you DJ (or iPod) whoever you are.
The selection of food was decent, but not awesome. That isn’t the fault of organizers, per se, but did anybody lobby restaurants of different cuisines to join the event? For instance, there was no Chinese food and Fayetteville and Fayette County have a number of good restaurants that could have stepped in, no Japanese no Thai and no Mexican, either. Maybe the folks at Sabri Kebab didn’t know about it or declined, but this would have been a great way to get the word about their restaurant. Same goes for Courtney’s Cafe. They could have brought over a gigantic pot of jambalaya, charged a token for a little sample cup and introduced the throng to their spicy delight.
Let’s not focus on what wasn’t there (it’s making me too sad) and focus on what was. There was a lot of pizza (all hail the Greek pizza from Partners II), some good BBQ and numerous delectable desserts. Taste of Fayette was a great way to get reintroduced to some places that I had forgotten about, particularly Longbranch. Their grilled and fried samplers were great. The ribs were delicious and the chicken and steak on a stick were decent, while the fried pickles were out of this world. Other restaurants with popular booths on Sunday were Broadway Diner, Baci, Bugaboo Creek, Moe’s and Mangarelli’s among others. The aroma wafting from Atlanta Rub’s grill was incredibly enticing too, creating long lines for their lip-smacking ribs and other dishes.
Aside from the fact that many of the booths seemed very similar, the other problem was the size of the “tastes” and the cost. Here’s a perfect example. Partners had slices of Greek pizza for three tokens (basically, $1.50) while Mangarelli’s had a slice of pepperoni for six tokens ($3). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a food critic to know which one is the better deal. A slice is more than a taste and Mangarelli’s slice was bigger, but the better deal was Partners, so lots of people visited that booth instead. Want ribs and mashed potatoes from Bugaboo? That’s nine tokens and you likely will be so full you won’t want to sample anything else. The Cheesecake Boutique had it exactly right, one token for a small sample of their cheesecakes. It was no more than a few bites, but those bites were heavenly.
Taste of Fayette should be about tasting as much as you can from area restaurants, especially ones you’ve never tried before or haven’t visited in a long time. That’s why Longbranch stood out to me. The two samplers cost nine tokens, but several of us ate from it. I guess everyone could share “tastes” but overall, the whole thing seemed more like “Meals of Fayette.” The novelty of paying for food with tokens wears pretty thin when your bag of tokens is gone at one booth.
And since it appears I’m on a bit of a rant, I’ll take this one step further. I love Moe’s. I go there at least once every few weeks, if not more often, but if you are a national chain restaurant, you shouldn’t be at an event like this. They aren’t just places that can be found in Fayette. If you go to Walla Walla, Washington and visit Moe’s or Bugaboo Creek, it tastes exactly the same. They aren’t local recipes, they are created in a food lab somewhere. It’s all really good, but it is taking up space that could go to a local business that could use the exposure. (ahem, Sabri Kebab, Royal Chef, ahem).
Lastly, and this may go against the logistics of the event and therefore be impossible, but the food booths should be spread out. They were all along one alley and that alley got really crowded. After walking through that main pass of food booths, there were booths for other businesses and they had plenty of space and few visitors. If you want them to have more traffic and visibility and get people to visit all areas of your event, spread it out. Let people breathe and explore. It all felt a little cramped.
Looking over this, it seems like a negative review of Taste of Fayette. Honestly, I don’t mean it to be. I love having an event like this, I would just like to see it be the best it could be. Taste of Fayette should have more local restaurants offering smaller samples at a lower token price, so the people can actually taste all that Fayette has to offer.
Note: Atlanta Margarita Man won Most Amazing Booth and Finest Taste went to Cheesecake Boutique. See above.