East Tosa’s 2015 Chili’n on the Avenue

Posted: September 27, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Yesterday was East Tosa’s annual Chili’n on the Avenue event, featuring both a Bloody Mary competition and a Chili competition.

We’ve chosen to attend this event over events like the Tomato Romp over the last couple of years because we really prefer the intimate neighborhood feel of the Chili’n event and how true each spot stays to the actual Bloody Mary served at their establishment.

However, this year we were a little disappointed in the event. The previous two years, there were four entries in the Bloody Mary competition (Last year: North Avenue Grill, Cranky Al’s, Bel Air Cantina & Red Dot).

This year, the event was moved further east on North Avenue, there were only three establishments participating, and only one of the competitors from previous years (Red Dot, the winner!) was involved.

This year’s competitors were:

-Hue (a new Vietnamese restaurant that opened last fall);

-Camp Bar; and

-Red Dot

When you think of Bloody Marys, you don’t typically think of Vietnamese restaurants, but we gave Hue a whirl first.

There, we found the owner behind the bar, ready to mix up the drinks. The Bloody here was Asian-inspired, containing hoisin sauce, sriracha, fish sauce and some chili paste among other ingredients. It was topped off with olives and Vietnamese pork for the garnishes.

Hue Bloody Mary

This Bloody Mary was the polarizing for the group. Either you liked the unique flavor or you hated it. In speaking with the owner, he told us that his wife had helped him come up with the recipe the night before. He wasn’t sure how many people would be trying his drink, so he was a little unprepared for the rush, but was very nice. When we inquired as to whether or not we would find this drink on the menu moving forward, he was not yet sure.

This was a deal breaker for us… The reason we stopped attending certain Bloody Mary events was because the bloodies strayed away from what was actually served at a restaurant in order to cater to the competition. What we like best about the competition is getting to try a variety of bloodies and then coming back to those establishments later to enjoy them again in the future…NEXT!

We then headed across the street to Camp Bar. We’ve reviewed Camp Bar here twice in the past, once for its Shorewood location and again last fall when Camp Bar opened up in Wauwatosa. We’re pleased to say the bloody mary they entered into the competition was a smaller version of the one they serve on a daily basis:

Camp Bar Bloody Mary

The final stop was at Red Dot, the winner of the event in years past. This Bloody Mary is already one of the tops in our book, so we knew going in, this was a frontrunner. And they did not let us down. We had to rightfully cast our vote for Red Dot’s Basil-Garlic Bloody Mary.

Red Dot Bloody Mary

While we still love Red Dot and they got our vote, the public voted Camp Bar as the new Bloody Mary champ:

Like we said, we have come to like this event far more than others for many reasons, but we do have a few more suggestions for the future, such as getting more bars & restaurants to participate in the event; having those bars/restaurants only use the bloody they actually sell; creating fun ratings cards like they had the first year; and making sure to announce the winners on social media on the day of the event so those who had to leave early are able to find out the results (we only know the winner because we saw a tweet from Camp Bar), plus making an official hashtag for the event.

This year’s set up was different than in years past. As mentioned, it was hosted farther east on North Avenue. This seemed to exclude several businesses. In addition, the Chili was moved to individual tents and more spread out, but they still ran into the same problem they’ve had before: The participants run out of chili as early as 30 minutes into the event. We had purchased tickets and several went to waste because the chili was gone. When we tried to return the tickets where we had purchased them, we were told we were out of luck and that many had the same issue. That really wasn’t a satisfactory answer…. something should definitely be done to fix the issue moving forward. For example, there should be some sort of set amount of chili each participant has to create, or only a limited amount of tickets can be sold…

Just something to think about for future years as we would hate to see this event fail!





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