Coagulation at the mixer; Pursuing irony, drinks, food on restaurant crawl
“Do I dip the chicken in the sauce? Or the slaw?” I asked a co-restaurant hopper I had just met as we sat at Moto-i in Minneapolis Uptown. I’ll call him Roy – since that’s his actual name. Roy. (There are a lot of Roys around here. You don’t know which one he is. Get over it.)
“It’s going in your mouth, so you should pick what you do with it,” Roy said.
I like Roy.
That’s when I stopped worrying about trying to be a food critic and realized this whole “Dishcrawl” was going to be less about the food and more about the social aspect. All you have to know is that the food was good.
This was the inaugural four-stop restaurant crawl in the Twin Cities, hosted by dishcrawl.com. There were about 25 people who gathered, slapped on a nametag and then talked among themselves over a food sample, a drink and some insight from the chef or restaurant owner.
You can always walk to four restaurants yourself with friends, but this was about enjoying food and drink at four different restaurants while meeting people with whom you would not otherwise share awkward napkin management.
Plus, you often get special non-menu food items and some insight from the chef or restaurant owner.
For this event, we went to Moto-i, Fuji Ya, Common Roots Café and then the Herkimer. I had been to all of these places, but I never had any of the dishes they served. (If you want food details, you’ll have to check out the web version of this column at current.mnsun.com. Shameless, I know.)
It’s a novel concept for a mixer, given Roy’s well-traveled and astute observation that it is hard to meet people in the Twin Cities.
You go to an event where a person or a small group join other unknown people, and these nice Midwesterners ultimately get into small groups and talk among each other. They don’t separate, he said.
I agreed: We coagulate; we don’t mix.
Even in Chicago – relatively close considering the proximity of Portland’s hipsters to Uptown’s – people seem a little more open and willing to meet and converse with strangers confined to a shared experience. Like trying sake and fried chicken.
So, at each restaurant in this small tromp around Uptown I tried to talk with different people, but even with that intent I found myself talking to the same group at restaurant four.
But, I still did some canvassing, and several people I had never met said it’s hard to talk with people they had never met. We indeed were coagulating ourselves.
This is fine, though, since we had never met each other before. This provides an opportunity for setting up another time to go visit something the Twin Cities has to offer as a group and possibly new friendships develop from there.
So, this restaurant crawl is a pretty good idea: There’s a surprise element, since you don’t know which restaurants you’re visiting until after you sign up; you usually get a non-menu-item dish specially prepared by the chef, who often makes an appearance to discuss this dish; you have an un-awkward opportunity to meet new people, which is refreshing even for well-established married couples.
Like the late Kurt Vonnegut said, when he and his wife got into arguments, they were basically saying to each other, “We need more people!”
The downside – each stop seemed like a half hour, even though they were probably a little longer.
It can be hard to talk with people, sample the food, listen to the chef or restaurant owner and finish a drink at each stop. Not a bad problem to have, I suppose.
There are more of these crawls coming up. The first one cost $40, so it’s up to you if it’s worth it.
Visit dishcrawl.com/minneapolis, and then pace and enjoy yourselves, people.
– By Paul Groessel, Eden Prairie Community Editor