After missing the previous five Dishcrawl events in Fairfield County I finally got a chance to attend one in my hometown of South Norwalk. If you don’t already know, Dishcrawl is an event centered in a town and the mini adventure it promises to take you on.
Similar to a pub crawl without the drunken staggering, Dishcrawl flips that and gears it towards restaurant hopping, four different eateries in one night for food samples and drinks if you so desire. Part of the lure of Dishcrawl is a chance to experience restaurants in a city or town that you may not be familiar with, in addition, guests may be briefly entertained and educated by a chef or general manager of each establishment, and for the social butterfly part of some of you, maybe, making new friends.
My experience? You really wanna know? I think I can deliver.
Our Stops & The Food
First, let me start with this…I was a bit worried where we might go. No, I’m not a picky eater, but a bunch of food blogger friends and even a few people I met at the SoNo Dishcrawl said they were “dissatisfied” with previous Dishcrawl events in Stamford and New Canaan for some of the places that were chosen like Sundown Saloon and Maddy’s Food Truck in Stamford, and Baskin Robbins in New Canaan. And understandably so! I would have felt the same way.
The SoNo edition had a great stops! We started at Bar Sugowith a trio that featured pizza, chef/owner Pat Pascarella’s ridiculously flavorful meatballs that I get on every single visit, and a deep fried risotto ball. Bar Sugo never disappoints so it will come as no shock that I was thrilled with the first place.
Second was Barcelona but it was a bit of a trip because even though it was “SoNo Dishcrawl,” Bar Sugo is not in SoNo and at a distance that eliminated walking there so everyone had to hop in their car and go. I’ll dish out more on that soon.
However, Barcelona served many different items including beef and chicken empanadas, guacamole, a mushroom and goat cheese salad, and meatballs (pork, veal, beef, ricotta). Part two of the trip kept the good string of restaurants going.
Our third restaurant and a place that is growing on me was not that much of a shock considering the announced gift card contest that went down days before the event…Mama’s Boy Southern Table & Refuge. While I was happy with the selection, I was not happy about the three items we were given; shrimp & grits, a crab cake, and a deviled egg. I found the shrimp too fishy and a bit chewy and the deviled egg also missed and did not have that creaminess we all tend to look for in a deviled egg. The crab cake (not lacking crab at all!) with creamed corn was my favorite from this location.
The final SoNo stop was Chocopologie where it’s safe to say we all enjoyed brownies and a selection of Fritz Knipschildt’s epic truffles that I just cannot stay away from.
Overall, the restaurants we visited were good choices and the food was mostly good. What I liked most was getting to chat with people I may not have otherwise met. I chatted with couples, people close to my age, older married couples, students, pairs of friends, co-workers, writers, photographers, bloggers, families, a film teacher, and two really cute girls from lululemon. If you go, you will definitely make connections with people from all different walks of life.
Remember that driving thing I mentioned earlier? Well, it was a problem for some and I heard complaints. That’s fair given the fact that a good amount of the crowd were out-of-towners and didn’t know how to get from Wall Street to SoNo. I’m not defending Dishcrawl but it is the year TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN (read 2013), there is technology out there called a GPS and they’re pretty inexpensive these days.
One other issue is the cost to full stomach comparison. If you’re going with the intention of spending $45 on a Dishcrawl ticket to eat a wheelbarrow full of food, you will be upset as this is just a tasting, and if you have the intention of drinking, alcohol costs extra.
The event also promises mini chats with the chefs or GMs but the only one that spoke was Brian Candee, GM of Barcelona. I could see where some might feel cheated by the lack of speakers.
The biggest problem I noticed was the abruptness of it all. I get that we only have a limited time at each restaurant but for those that ordered drinks and paid for them, well, they found themselves either leaving those drinks behind or having to guzzle them like beer bonging college days. If you order a drink and 20 other people do too, chances are your time to enjoy that drink will be short. You could always do what I did and wait until the end.
And speaking of the end…
It just kind of ended in a blink and that was that. No closing speech. That was it. My final table and the good folks at it were like, “Oh. OK.” Something about that just doesn’t seem right.
Despite my issues and the investigation answers I got from others, I really did have fun and would absolutely do it again just for the social aspect alone, but a few snacks here and there and at each stop didn’t hurt either.