Smorgasburg in Twenty Dollars or Less: Week Two

July 2, 2012 4:43 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Smorgasburg, a weekly summer food festival located in beautiful East River State Park (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

It's called Smorgasburg, and it's a food festival that's everything the Great GoogaMooga failed to be: excellent. Every Saturday from 11 AM to 6 PM, the Brooklyn Flea-sponsored event gathers hundreds of unique food vendors from some of the hippest, tastiest spots all across the city (read: you never have to go to Red Hook again) to shack up at beautiful East River State Park and showcase their stuff to a worthy gathering of weekend warriors. Given that you could easily spend too many hours and serious dough trying everything here, and considering how many of our friends have told us they've tried to go but been overwhelmed by all the selections, we're going to curate the experience for you: every week, we're going to try as many different vendors as we can, without repeating and without spending over twenty dollars.

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Week Two:

1. Vegan Slider and Dotty's Potato Salad- Chickpea and Olive - $10

I tend to like vegan cooking because it forces you to truly get down and dirty with herbs. You can't rely on meats and dairy products to do the flavoring for you. That said, the vegan foodstuffs establishment is not without its cliches: TVP, tofu, seitan, tempeh-- all of them smothered in daiya cheese which (we get it!) melts just like real cheese.

How completely unexpected, then, to find a vegan food stand that relies on real inventiveness rather than those guilt-free standbys. Chickpea and Olive may not have a flashy sign like some of the other stands do, but their food is in that top one-percent of Smorgasburg offerings-- and in a festival as good as this one, that really says something.

Wow. Their vegan slider was truly unbelievable, challenging your preconceptions of what a burger, veggie or otherwise, can offer without skimping on being really, truly satisfying. It's textured perfectly, and just meaty enough, owing more to the falafel than to the burger. It's one of the best things you'll ever eat, and my only criticism is that it's just a little small.

This smallness is amended by the potato salad, which is nice and cold and just as dilly as I like it. It doesn't have any of the acrid soy aftertaste that veganaisse adds to stuff because it avoids a fake mayo completely, opting instead for a combination of tahini mustard and herb vinaigrette to give the salad its body.

2. Classic Lemonade - The Stand - $4

Very disappointing. For a vendor that devotes itself to selling quality lemonade, their Classic was pretty blasphemous. It's something between mouth-puckeringly sour and on the sour side. It did not pain me to drink it, but it was not a pleasant either. They seem to confuse "gourmet" with "not sweet." Lemonade needs sweetness. That said, I wonder if their other flavors solve the problem.

3. Salt Cod Croquetas - The Tapas Shack - $6

The sourness of the lemonade forced me to look for something fishy and salty, and I'd been dying to try the food from The Tapas Shack for a while. The portion they give you is on the large side for tapas, but small in comparison to some of the other stuff you can get at the festival for the same price. However, it is quite tasty-- loaded with a ton of salty cod. This was the saving grace of the lemonade I'd ordered earlier.

All in all, not as great a week as last week's, when everything was transcendent. However, Chickpea and Olive's slider was enough to redeem just about anything. When you go to the festival this weekend, and we hope you do, you owe it to yourselves to go to them.

Total Bill: $20

Best Part of the Festival: Chickpea & Olive

Most Disappointing Part of the Festival: The Stand


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