Well, Brunch Fest was certainly popular. The event, one of many food-themed Ithaca events, took place last Saturday with local businesses pitching tents on the Commons and serving up brunch bites. The event promised plenty of alcohol and a variety of cheaply priced tastes, although vendors may have been a bit overwhelmed by the turnout.
My own experience began when I stepped into line at 12:35 p.m. for the most popular tent, Gateway Kitchen. They offered tantalizing options, including barbeque smoked salmon spread on latkes, brisket biscuits, pulled pork and brisket apple slaw croissants, pork pancake sandwiches and barbeque chicken au gratin potatoes. Some enthusiastic attendees were also excited by the peanut butter cheesecake and the apple bread with honey butter.
Other options included OmNomNomelettes and the ever-present Waffle Frolic. There were more restaurants too, although before the event was even halfway over, many had run out of food.
Despite my immediate hunger, I had to wait. The lines for all the tents were surprisingly long but I decided I had to wait to see if the hype lived up to the food. I reached the front at 2:05 p.m., exactly an hour and a half after joining the line.
Most people passed the wait time by laughing and catching up with friends. There was a very congenial atmosphere that mostly masked the discouraging lines and cool weather.
Luckily, Gateway had not yet run out of the barbeque chicken potato gratin and I ordered it because it seemed to be a popular option. Rightfully so. The dish was certainly not a traditional brunch item, but it was quite delicious. I also tried the salted caramel crunch cookie because after waiting in line for so long, there was no way I was going to leave without the full experience. The cookie was awesome.
Not everyone who attended got to enjoy the food offerings, however. Many were turned away by the long lines and left without anything. I don’t blame them. Brunch Fest was a new event, with plenty to learn from the first attempt. Next year, they’ll have to figure out how to manage the crowd by perhaps offering some more stands.
Overall, was it worth it? Probably not. Standing in line in the cold weather for an hour and a half is a steep price for a small taste. But I can’t deny that it was delicious. Also, I have high hopes that next year will be a smashing success for all.