Posts Tagged ‘North Avenue Grill’

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!

 

 

 

 

Yesterday was East Tosa’s annual Chili’n on the Avenue event, featuring both a Bloody Mary competition and a Chili competition.

Once again, this event fell on the same day as the East Side’s Tomato Romp event and once again, we chose to attend the Tosa event even though there were only four different Bloody Marys in that competition, compared to 14 at the Romp.

Although there are a few things that could be improved, 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.

The four entries in this year’s Chili’n event were:

North Avenue Grill

Cranky Al’s

Bel Air Cantina

Red Dot

We started at North Avenue Grill; this bloody was very spicy. It came with a slice of bacon and ghost pepper cheese. It had a good overall flavor, but was a little too spicy for our taste.

North Avenue Grill

Next, we moved on to Cranky Al’s. We had watched a segment on FOX 6 about this event and there, Cranky’s Bloody Mary was topped with a unique fixin’: Donuts! When we got our sample Bloody on Saturday, however, we bummed to find a very standard Bloody Mary. It tasted fine, but was nothing special. When we asked about the donuts, we were told this was just for TV. That was a bummer, but the bartender did give us a free donut anyway for our troubles. That earned this bonus points.

The third stop was Bel Air Cantina. They serve up a Bloody Mary made with Tequila, so it is really a Bloody Maria. It comes with a chaser of Lagunitas and is topped with an assortment of pickled veggies from the Tosa Farmer’s Market. While we gave them props for the chaser (the only place who offered one) and sourcing their fixin’s locally, we just couldn’t overcome the harsh bite of the tequila to rate this Bloody very highly.

Bel Air Cantina

The final stop was at Red Dot, the winner of last year’s event.  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

And the public agreed. Red Dot was named the 2014 Bloody Mary Champion for the second year in a row!

Like we said, we have come to like this event far more than the Tomato Romp 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, 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, and clear marketing on times of the event (one flyer we spotted said Chili started at 11am and another said 1pm). We would have preferred an overlap of the Bloody Mary and Chili Competitions.  You could definitely start the Bloody Marys at 10am and Chili at 11:30am and end both early in the afternoon. Just something to think about for future years, but overall, we enjoyed the event once again and can’t wait to return in 2015!