New Yorkers tend to reinvent what they love to do the most in the summer – and that is al fresco dining. As I say goodbye to warm, balmy days and soon contemplate the falling of leaves, I look at one of the most wonderful pop-up dining experiences I’ve had in the outer-boroughs of NYC.
What is a Pop-up Restaurant?
A pop-up restaurant, one of the latest food fads nowadays aside from food trucks, is an eatery that is temporary. It can last a few hours or weeks, or it may be a weekend only affair for a couple of months. It can take place at private homes, galleries, museums, warehouses, event spaces, courtyards, someone’s backyard and rooftops. It runs the gamut of cafeteria style, walk up counter service or full service restaurants complete with waiters and maitre d’s. In short, it is whatever a future restaurateur imagines it to be.
A Pop-up Dining Experience
In Brooklyn in mid-June, I savored a pop-up backyard BBQ dinner prepared by Top Chef alum Dale Talde. This Filipino-American chef already has his hands full with three restaurants (Talde, Pork Slope and Thistle Hill) in Park Slope. But he still found the time to cook BBQ for about a hundred guests in the back patio of Good Co. in Williamsburg. There was plenty of seating available, from wooden picnic tables to wrought iron chairs, so I saved a spot for me when I arrived. While waiting for the event to start, I grabbed a pint of Brooklyn Brewery’s Summer Ale which was included in the price while I inhaled the mouthwatering aroma of BBQ. The food was served buffet style and there was a chalkboard menu indicating the food items that await hungry patrons.
Talde served his take on Vietnamese and Japanese classics. The first on the list was lemongrass pork with cold vermicelli, summer pickles and herb salad. This dish was a perfect combination of smokey lemony grilled pork, springy noodles, tangy carrots and fresh herb. The second item on the menu was mushroom banh mi with spicy mayo, yuzu avocado, carrots and daikon. This sandwich started out with a crispy on the outside and soft on the inside baguette roll, smeared with spicy mayo and citrusy avocado paste. Then the roll was piled high with grilled portobello and sour carrot and radish salad. The last dish on the menu was vegetable robata with maple tare. The grilling of corn, onion and sweet potato brought out their natural sweetness. The addition of maple tare which is soy sauce thickened by maple syrup further complimented the grilled vegetables’ saccharine taste.
Written by Faith Azul-Evia. Faith is an avid flashpacker (a slightly older version of a backpacker with a bigger budget but still wants to avoid a packaged version of a destination) and believes that her travels start as soon as she leaves her NY apartment building. She is in constant search of new places to explore, eat, drink, sleep, spa, run, hike and yoga. She has been to 38 countries in 6 continents and dreams of going to Antarctica someday. Follow her @faithflashpacks on Instagram.