One of the best food festivals that I love the most in RVA is the annual Broad Appétit. I look forward to it every single year. My sister from D.C. even makes it down for this event. I’m serious when I say, it’s one of the best. The concept of this festival is very simple. Each restaurant prepares $3 mini-dish favorites for you to try. You go up to to a booth, read their menu and pay $3 if you want to sample. It’s a great way to try restaurants that you’ve never been before and finding some gems that you would definitely revisit.
My mother-in-law was in town for the weekend, so this was one event Jared and I brought her to. From past experience, getting to Broad Appétit early is important. As soon as it starts at 11 a.m., we were there. That way, we can get our sample with no line and hang out for the rest of the afternoon. They even had local beer to sell, which I would have partaken in, but was full from all the eating. We tried 9 different dishes, lets take a look at each one!
1. Korean barbecue on a scallion pancake from Ginkgo:
Our first sample of the day wasn’t too bad. It was a good idea, but the scallion pancake needed some work. I’m assuming it was prepared the night before or the morning of, so it tended to be on the dry and tough side. However, the Korean barbecue on top of the pancake was super tender and sweet. The relish was crunchy adding a nice texture overall.
2. Pulled pork over a bed of gnocchi and apples from Community Kitchen:
This was our first time eating gnocchi and it was heavenly. I believe they were making the gnocchi on the spot. All the flavors in this dish were nicely balanced. It was salty and sweet with a creamy, light sauce.
3. Spicy shrimp and grits from Mansionfive26:
So highly disappointed about a dish I typically enjoy eating. Really lacked on spice and flavor. The shrimps were small and the sauce was too watery. I wanted it to be good, but I’ve had better (at Balliceaux). The grits were cooked very nicely though.
4. Ribeye taco and Teriyaki beef taco from Boka Truck:
I’m not a Boka truck virgin anymore!! All the times I wanted to try a taco from the Boka truck, the line was a mile long. This time, it wasn’t! The tacos were very different in taste than the typical Mexican-style. These were more Asian-inspired with loads of spice and texture. Solid tacos!
5. Salmon over rice from La Parisienne Bistro & Cafe:
Not one of my favorites, but my mother-in-law enjoyed it a lot. For me, there was just too much going on. There were so many different kinds of flavors in the rice, sauce and salmon that I felt a little overwhelmed and sadly, underwhelmed at the same time.
6. Crab cake from Martin’s:
One of my favorite foods is a well-made crab cake. Surprisingly enough, the crab cake from Martins’ (of all places) was all crab and done really well! The presentation lacked, but the aioli and side vegetables complimented the crab really nicely. The cake was lumpy with lots of crab and not a lot filling, which is my kind of crab cake. Very nice.
7. Salted Chocolate Caramel cake from Shyndigz:
Best damn slice of cake I’ve ever eaten. Hands down. The combination of chocolate, salt and caramel was UNBELIEVABLE and inspiring. They also had a key lime cheesecake to sample, which was equally as good. I will honestly check their bakery shop on Patterson to try more! LOVED IT.
8. Pork belly with slaw on a steamed bun from Sticky Rice:
It was our first time eating pork belly, and boy, I’m in trouble. May not be the healthiest, but ironically, it wasn’t too salty or oily. I do wish the cut was a tab larger because the steamed bun was kinda big.
9. Seared scallop with roasted corn and bacon from Spoons:
Can’t leave the festival without eating a perfectly cooked scallop. Spoons offered this super fresh scallop that just melted in my mouth. The sweetness from the corn and saltiness from the bacon added so much flavor. A favorite.
And so that wraps up our food experience at Broad Appétit. If I had to pick my favorite dish from all that I sampled, it would be the salted chocolate caramel cake. I know it’s a dessert, but it was to die for. My second favorite would be pork belly buns. If you missed out this year, definitely make an attempt to remember next year. Look, even this kid (my nephew) had a great time at his first Broad Appétit experience!
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