Monday, March 28, 2011

C-Town Chows Down

Yesterday a "convoy of Cleveland's finest food trucks" gathered at Lincoln Park in Tremont for the first C-Town Chow Down. Clevelanders could enjoy some tasty treats from our favorite food trucks (including Dim and Den Sum), and be introduced to some new trucks (like Umami Moto) hitting the scene this spring.
The event was advertised as 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., but I had a sneaking suspicion that we should get there early on. The RSVP list on their Facebook page was over 1,300 people alone! So we headed up shortly after 11, and quickly jumped in one of the already growing lines. Our first stop was StrEat Mobile Bistro, who were celebrating their official launch date yesterday. Their menu jumped out at me right away, and I wasn't even sure what I wanted as I stood in line and waited.
Our wait was about 30 minutes, and as we crawled towards the truck I decided on the Eggs Benedict Roll and the Buffalo Mac n' Cheese. StrEat handled the logistics of the event very well. Orders were taken as quickly as possible, delays on certain menu items were communicated, and the food came out piping hot with only about a 10 minute wait after ordering. With the egg roll packing the full breakfast experience into one roll (although very greasy), and the mac n' cheese a subtle spicy hit...I was off to a nice start.Then we cruised around and checked out a few of the other trucks without jumping in line.Chef Rocco Whalen from Fahrenheit was there serving up some specialty items out of his truck. His lamb sliders peaked my interest, but Rocco sold out quickly and we watched him pull away as we stood in our next line.
Which was the ever-popular Dim and Den Sum food truck...the pioneers of the Cleveland food truck scene. They had done an excellent job of pre-promoting their coffee braised short rib slider, and my mouth was watering just thinking about it. Alas, when we finally arrived at the order window around 1:00 p.m.- they were SOLD OUT of the slider (no surprise there, I knew it would happen). I wasn't that hungry when we placed our order, so I settled on the Chicken Confit Wings with Asian flavors. We moved over to the food window line, and watched all of the other items sell out as we waited 1.5 hours for our order to come up.Good for them, but man were people disappointed to not be able to try their food! Not to mention the growing discomfort and hostility in the waiting line. One woman was complaining so loudly, and it was never ending, that a fellow diner finally asked her to shut her trap. The crowd cheered, and she walked away without her order. Not quite the atmosphere that I was hoping for at this festival, but entertaining at the very least. I do have to mention that my Chicken Confit was not worth the wait (very fatty and I didn't like the flavor of the sauce), and I was hungry enough by the time we got our food that I should have ordered the famous PBLT or the Kobe Beef Burger. Oops! I heard very good things about both of these items.

So, overall we enjoyed a fun and unique experience. Even though it was freezing cold...the sun was out, spirits were high, live music entertained us from afar, and Cleveland proved its point once again what a truly amazing culinary scene we have. Let's just hope that there are plans in the works for a future Chow Down, with a few logistical tweaks!

9 comments:

Brad said...

Well said!!! I completely agree and I got really lucky getting there before 11am. I ame sure they will improve logistics next time. Also next time we need to plan a tweetup. :)

Hungry In Cleveland said...

Agree 100% here. I was one who showed up around 12:30 and got in line for StrEat. Ended up an hour later with the buffalo mac n cheese and was please with that. However, the bf went in line for Jibaro (we thought it would be a good idea to get into separate lines). Well, when it was almost his turn, they announced it would be 20 min until anything would be ready since they had to make more rice. At least we knew the food would be fresh. Overall, loved the idea, but hope the trucks are more prepared for the next one. I will for sure be there earlier too :) 12:30 was not a smart idea.

Cleveland222 / Andrew said...

Great idea. Terribly implemented. Whoever organized this event clearly had no idea what they were doing. NO tables to eat at? Done well, with better closer entertainment, tents, heaters, and menu items that could be turned around quicker is all that needed to be done. The trucks should have known what type of a crowd would be there. Waiting in line for over an hour is absolutely ridiculous. Cleveland knows how Cleveland supports food. Plan accordingly.

Heather said...

I've heard such mixed reviews about this event. Great recap, Katrina!

clueintocleveland said...

Excellent recap! I agree with the comment that tents spotlighting each truck would allow for more mingling.

Also happy to see that some of the food truck operators are admitting to the challenges of the wait on the Facebook event page and looking to make tweaks to the next event.

Proudfather said...

I had a great cupcake with very little wait!

Alana said...

Hopefully these growing pains will disappear at the next Chow Down! I definitely want to check it out when the weather breaks.

Ben said...

We actually thought about going--we were on our way to get some kennel cough meds from the APL for some puppies we're fostering--but the lines were so huge that we actually skipped it and did take out from Liquid Planet on the way home. The event sounded pretty crazy from your description of it. We're looking forward to more food truck grub this spring, though.

a ji o ji suno ji said...

I am a TV junkie too, but not for the same reasons I just enjoy the zoning out feeling after a busy day. I can not say I feel the same about TV ads, normally I Tivo shows and just fast forward through the commercials, but this commercial grabbed my interest, beautifully made, and I loved the dialog. It actually puts me in a calm state when it comes on.
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