A new concept put together by Zevents called Kitchen Hop kicked off its first event last Saturday in Mary Brickell Village. For just $35, guests enjoyed a dish from seven restaurants -- Dolores, Brother Jimmy's, Tapas Benidorm, Toscana Divino, Oceanaire, Balans, and Taverna Opa -- from 2 to 4 p.m.. Baru and Blue Martini opened their doors at 4 and offered guests a free cocktail.
"We tried to put together an event that would benefit everyone involved," organizer Javi Zayas said. "Restaurants get to expose some of their dishes and possibly gain new fans. The sponsors get positive promotion from a family-oriented event and the guests get a great deal on quality food."
The event gained a lot of attention, securing sponsors such as Modelo and Three Olives vodka and selling 1,200 tickets before the first plate was served. Short Order attended the festivities to see what all the hype was about.
The plates were small to make room for seven selections per person. The lines tended to get long in a few places but moved quickly. Most of the restaurants were on point with their selections, though a few were ill-prepared for the surge and left diners hovering with empty plates. Going from place to place was fun for most people we spoke with, though some were disappointed they were served only one dish per customer in each restaurant.
Our favorite dish was the pulled pork and barbecue beef brisket from Brother Jimmy's. The lamb and beef meatball at Taverna Opa was also tasty even though it was very greasy and came in a small portion of only one meatball. The salmon and vegetable pasta at Balans was bathed in an oily sauce but was cooked to the ideal tenderness.
Oceanaire featured ceviche with cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions served with chips. Some of the chips were stale, and the ceviche contained more tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions than fish. The pork belly at Toscana Divino had a very dominant flavor and was very popular among guests. Tapas Benidorm featured a pastry wrapped around chorizo with a blueberry on top. The tartness of the blueberry blended nicely with the savory chorizo, though the pastry had a peculiar consistency.
Most attendees we spoke to were very satisfied with the wide range of cuisines and types of dishes offered. The venue and tone of the event facilitated a very friendly atmosphere, as guests discussed their favorite dishes and made their way to Blue Martini and Baru for complimentary drinks. For a first-time event, there are very few kinks to be worked out.
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Zevents is looking to host a Coral Gables Kitchen Hop in April and one in Wynwood or Coconut Grove later this year. Stay tuned to Short Order for more details on upcoming events.