Despite dismal skies and heavy rains, on June 13th, Brookfield Place Plaza felt like a tropical vacation. Adorned in palm trees, the vast atrium hosted New Fish City, a festival featuring some of NYC’s finest seafood (and the occasional burger). The Edible Manhattan-sponsored event ran from 11:30am-2:00pm, with an afternoon break before the evening portion from 5:00-9:00pm. I rushed across the city after work to arrive around 6:00pm for my highly-anticipated dinner. The best part: everything served was $10 or less! Bring on the lobster!
I assumed (correctly) that the renowned Luke’s Lobster would have the longest line, so my sister and I strategically got on it towards the beginning–immediately after we scarfed down BLT’s big eye tuna tacos. Served with pickled vegetables and a hint of salsa and mint cream, these were a super fresh and yummy way to commence our feast. On line, we were surrounded primarily by well-dressed businessmen who presumably work in the area.
I must comment on the rigidity of the lines, though, as I had yet to see anything quite like it at other, similarly structured events. There were several attendants on hand who made certain that not a person stepped out of place even for a moment. I somehow managed to spend 95% of my evening standing in the wrong spot and was asked to move upwards of nineteen times. While this was laughable, it had no negative impact on my experience and was probably the only effective way to maintain order.
The evening vendors included Mario Batali’s Esca, Brooklyn Oyster Party, Red Hook Lobster Pound, and Cull & Pistol. Curveballs Harry’s Italian Pizza Bar and Ample Hills Creamery Ice Cream were also present, despite their non-seafood focuses. One interesting little dish I sampled (or as I saw it, braved) was Back Forty West’s green gazpacho with oyster shooters. While I am not a huge oyster eater, the cool, thick soup masked the usual salty sliminess and made for a tasty gulp. I also enjoyed one of my more typical orders, shrimp cocktail, courtesy of L&W Oyster Co. These shrimp were quite large and perfect both plain or with horseradish-topped cocktail sauce. Palo Santo’s lobster taco was good but small and too hard to love right after eating Luke’s.
Several booths started to close up shop around 7:45pm despite the event’s scheduled ending time nearly an hour and a half later, which really put the pressure on to gorge quickly. I snagged some dessert in the nick of time–I missed the boat on Ample Hills’ salted crack caramel flavor but wasn’t too upset with my large helping of sweet cream n cookies and ooey gooey butter cake.
All in all, I commend the New Fish City organizers’ commitment to constructing an orderly and delicious evening. The purposeful selection of a location along the Hudson River was fitting with the food featured. High ceilings prevented the claustrophobic feeling present at many festivals, and the absence of overbearing music made it easy to compare food notes with friends. It was too bad that weather prevented the use of the adjacent outdoor beer garden, but that could not be helped. Here’s to hoping the event returns next year on a sunnier day!
By: Emily Giove