PHOTOS AND BUZZ FROM THIS YEAR’S TASTE OF THE UPPER WEST SIDE FOOD FESTIVAL

The 10th annual New Taste of the Upper West Side food festival featured dozens of local restaurants, each serving hundreds of small plates to a packed crowd in the yard at 76th Street and Columbus Avenue this past Friday and Saturday. New Taste is put on by the Columbus Avenue BID and supports neighborhood beautification and nonprofits.

The event had some fantastic food and theatrics, including balloons falling from the ceiling, women suspended from ropes pouring champagne, and the dude above wailing on his neon sax.

Below, we’ve compiled some of the news we heard at the festival and some photos of the action.

There are several hotly anticipated openings on the horizon on the Upper West Side. One Chinese restaurant in particular is getting people excited. Jing Fong is a dim sum restaurant that will be replacing Planet Sushi at 78th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. General Manager Craig Jacobson (at right in the photo above) told us they expect to open in June and they will keep the opening quiet for the first week to give locals a chance to try it out. After that, expect the place to be crowded. Jing Fong has been able to pack its original 20,000 square foot, 800 seat restaurant on Elizabeth Street for years, so they shouldn’t have much problem packing the new location, which is expected to have 100 seats total.

Gastronomie 491 at 491 Columbus Avenue (84th) is opening a fresh pasta bar in the back of the market/restaurant. It will share space with the cheese counter there and sounds like it will be delicious.

Jacob Hadjigeorgis was there his wife and their one-month old baby. It’s been quite a year for the owner of Jacob’s Pickles and Maison Pickle, as Jacob’s remains closed after it was severely damaged in a February fire. But Jacob says he’s thankful for all the support from the neighborhood (and he held his own fundraiser for neighbors last month). He’s the son of a Queens restaurateur who taught him that restaurants should be community gathering spots.

Newly graduated students from the West Side Campaign Against Hunger’s chef training program made citrus-cured salmon tacos with maple bacon bits, cucumber and pickled onion salad, one of the standout dishes of the festival. Other notable dishes included an elaborate meat pie at Bar Boulud (pictured below), the baba ghanoush crostini from Bodrum, the Gol Goppa spicy snack from Swagat, the Tasmanian sea trout at Jean-Georges, the cucumber and mint soup with handmade yogurt from Gabriel’s, the ravioli at Nice Matin, and the short rib lettuce wrap at White Gold.

There were upside-down champagne-pouring acrobats:

Bar Boulud chef Alexander Burger made L’Oreiller de la Belle Aurore, a pie with 12 kinds of meat, including foie gras and squab:

Salmon slices at Zucker’s:

Baba Ghanoush at Bodrum:

Actor Bill Raymond was caught mid-chew:

Sweet times at Levain:

Cucumber soup kept it cool at Gabriel’s:

Chef Rob McCue of new restaurant The Fat Monk:

Balloons falling from the ceiling!

The sax guy!

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