REVIEW: Taste of Indianapolis
Normally I like to toot Indy’s horn, especially to those who have never been here and think there’s nothing here but cornfields and a racetrack (Seriously? We’re the 12th largest city in the country!), but a recent event left a bad taste in my mouth and I just have to share it with all 13 of you.
Foodies came out to the second annual Taste of Indianapolis this past weekend but, unless you like BBQ and you got there the first two hours, you were likely unimpressed.
First, some background on the event: Roughly 12-15 food vendors lined the downtown canal basin, along with a “stage” (tent used by crafters at summer art shows) where local musicians played throughout the 9-hour affair.
Attendees paid a $5 cover charge to get in and then extra for tickets, which would be redeemed at food vendors’ stations. A typical entrée went for 3-5 tickets, while snacks and sides were more in the 2-3 tickets range. Ten bucks got you eight tickets, so each ticket cost slightly more than a dollar. We had a Groupon, so for $8 we got admission and five tickets; we bought another eight tickets.
Caitlyn and I didn’t expect much going in – we knew the event was small and young and, being vegetarians, that we would likely not have many options – but, boy, this event sure screwed the pooch. First, signage was poor. While you were waiting in line to pay your “cover” (more on that to come), there were no signs denoting how much tickets were until you got to the front table, nor how many tickets various things cost. While we know it’s impossible to have a list with every food offering and its corresponding ticket value, a general idea might have been useful. Thankfully, there were ticket booths within the festival too in case you needed to reload.
Once inside, Caitlyn and I were treated to about a dozen vendors, half of which were BBQ or Jamaican jerk stands. Not quite the “taste” or variety we were looking for. Furthermore, of the places we visited, three had run out of certain types of foods … and it was only 3 p.m. – still six hours before the event was to close (and two hours of which was a washout). Maggiano’s was the biggest offender, not having a sign mentioning what they had at all. Caitlyn was told they had tiramisu, so she hopped to the end of the 15-minute-long line and, once at the front, was told they were out. The least Maggiano’s could have done – given it had two employees standing there doing nothing the entire time – could have been to put up a sign saying they were out of tiramisu.
No worries, we’ll go to another long line for Sweeties to grab a cookie. It’s only one ticket and you can’t get almost anything for one ticket at a food festival, right? Same deal. Got to the front of the line and was told they were out. I’ll take the Sold Out cupcake.
Then there’s the $5 cover. While I understand the premise of a cover, we’ve gone to Taste of Chicago to see Joss Stone and Barenaked Ladies for free, so why would we pay $5 here to see local musicians? I don’t profess to be a big local music nut, but I know some “big” local names and didn’t see any on the “stage.”
That said, we did try some overpriced chips and guac from a local Mexican restaurant, a mango limeade that was more lime than mango, some rice and beans and a slice of pizza from an up-and-coming Fountain Square pizzeria (side note: They also ran out of cheese pizza constantly because their mobile heater looked more like two toaster ovens on top of each other).
Lessons for the event organizers: More variety needed, bigger-name musicians to justify the cover charge, standardized signage required for ALL vendors and requirements that vendors bring enough food to last more than 2-3 hours into a 9-hour event.