Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dishcrawl Pioneer Valley

Last night was the foodie event that I'd been waiting weeks for--Dishcrawl Pioneer Valley! It's like a pubcrawl, but for food, so... better than a pub crawl as far as I'm concerned. Four restaurants, $45 (drinks not included), and each stop is a surprise. It's a growing company that has crawls all over the country, check it out! I was sad to miss the previous Dishcrawl, in May, because of lack of funds and being busy, but when Dishcrawl ambassador, Jenn, offered me a ticket for the June crawl, I couldn't say no! Last crawl they hit McLadden's Pub, Ibiza Tapas, Caminito Steakhouse, and The Deuce for Big Kats Katering. That's a pretty awesome line up, and since each crawl is a surprise I was really excited to see what Jenn had in store for us on the June crawl!

Thanks to the hints posted on the Dishcrawl Facebook Page, I was pretty sure I knew what the first two stops would be... and I was right! Note: It's a REALLY good idea to follow the Dishcrawl Facebook Page--thanks to a caption contest they ran, my friend won 50% off her ticket. Though she couldn't come, she was able to gift it to another friend of ours, meaning I had a girly date for the evening, yay!

First up was my old favorite (which I recently reviewed here), Mulino's.

I guessed that we'd be given the Lobster Ravioli, which seems to be a signature dish at Mulino's, as it is featured every summer pretty frequently. I was right, but what's more, they gave us an additional bite--an enormous meatball on top of a lightly dressed salad. Yum. The lobster ravioli was in a smoked mozzarella sauce that was just divine, but totally overshadowed the lobster. It was delicious, but I could have been eating plain cheese ravioli and not have known the difference--not necessarily a bad thing! The meatball was perfectly seasoned and the sauce was just right, the meatball was just slightly too dry for my liking. Overall though, it was a nice little sample of what Mulino's has to offer.

My friend and I got some of the House Pours of wine--white zin and pinot grigio. I am a big fan of the house wines here, they're $6 for a heavily poured glass and they don't have the "cheap wine" taste you might expect from the lowest priced wine on the menu. We were pleased, and the little boost of liquor helped us be a bit more social for the rest of the evening ;) We met a couple who drove all the way from Boston to do the Dishcrawl, and a local author (Amy Patt) whose new book, The Bartlett Journals: The Prima Ballerina is available on Amazon. Always cool to meet writers in the area!

Next up--and I was correct in guessing, again!--was Eastside Grill. I'd been here recently also (see my post!) but I was still excited. I tend to only ever order the scallops here, because they are awesome, so it was great to be given a surprise dish to try something else on the menu. Eastside is known for their seafood, and their New Orleans-inspired dishes, so it was great to be given a plate of BBQ Shrimp & Grits with Spinach for our meal! The BBQ was mild but delicious, and the shrimp perfectly cooked. The grits soaked up the juices nicely and I seriously wanted to lick the plate clean.

For a drink I got the strawberry basil cocktail and it was AMAZING. I could suck down ten of these if you let me, and I'm fantasizing about making my own now. I could tell the ingredients were super fresh, if not local, because the berries tasted like they were right off the bush. The drinks came way after the food, which was kind of strange, but this drink was so sweet and delicious that it made a pleasant dessert to end with.

The third place was a total surprise, since there hadn't been any Facebook clues, and it was Local Burger! I was expecting another fancy-ish restaurant, but while Local Burger is said to be the best burgers in the area, I'd yet to ever have one, so I was happy for the opportunity to try them. In truth, I've been to Local Burger many times... mostly at the end of a bar-hopping night since they are open late... where I am pretty liquored up... so the times I've eaten their famous burgers I'm too tipsy to really give them a real evaluation. The verdict?

Really freaking good! It was set up buffet-style, so a bunch of quartered bacon cheeseburgers and fries laid out for us to grab. It was hard not to take a full burger, but since I was already getting full and we still had a restaurant to go, I took a half and some fries.

They were PERFECTLY cooked. Medium and Medium-rare seemed to be the norm for the plate of burgers and that was fine by me! A lot of places I know overcook their burgers, so it was nice to see a pink inside. The cheese was melty, the bacon was the perfect balance of chewy and crispy, and the fries were just right too. I will be returning to Local, sober, and getting a full burger for myself one of these days for sure. I wish they'd given us samples of their famous milkshakes, but I suppose I'll just get one next time ;)

Last up was the dessert stop. Again, a total surprise. I was thinking we'd go to a specific dessert restaurant--Herrell's? La Fiorentina? Go Berry?--but Jenn surprised me again and we actually went to Spoleto! I've never been to Spoleto, but it's highly regarded in the valley as one of the best Italian restaurants. The dessert was a tiny sampler of three Italian desserts: Cannoli, Tiramisu, and Gelato. I pretty much hoovered my plate, being the utter sweet tooth that I am. And then my friend's plate because she was too stuffed to do much else but nibble the edges of her desserts. If this is how Spoleto does desserts, I will totally come back for their dinners sometime.

Overall, my first Dishcrawl experience was an awesome one! It's an excellent way to meet new people who are also foodies, and try out new restaurants, or get new items at an old favorite. As it gets more popular and they branch out to more Pioneer Valley stops, I'm sure it will only get better. I love finding foodie events in the valley! While $45 for a night out is at the very top of my budget, Jenn has enough fun contests and random promotions and coupons that I am sure I could swing it again if I budget correctly. This is the IDEAL Girls' Night Out or a fun Date Night. Next Dishcrawl will feature Easthampton, a town I lived in for a few years but never really explored food-wise. It'll be fun to see where they stop!

Does your city have a Dishcrawl? Have you ever been on one? Share your experience!

Out of focus and dark, this burger came out looking a little spooky...

*Full Disclosure: I was given a complimentary press ticket under the assumption I would blog about the event. However, all opinions are my own.


  1. oooh a dishcrawl sounds like my kinda event! That good, the photos are gorgeous too!

  2. Boston needs to do this because it looks like the best idea ever!


  3. Michigan has 4 locations, which is surprising! But one is a city that google says doesnt exist... the other 3 cities are 2 hrs away (and only one has a scheduled event). Wish it wasn't on a Tuesday, this sounds so much fun.

  4. Yum, everything you were served looks delicious! I think Chicago does a bunch of food tours like that, but I've never done one (I think I just assume that they're all touristy, which I'm sure is inaccurate). Looks like a fantastic girls' night idea!

  5. Just checked and SF has one. How interesting and never knew about this!!! Going to talk into my husband. :D