By Cindy Wagner

If you missed out on the Taste of Ellicottville last weekend, there were dozens of treats that awaited along Monroe Street in the village during one of the tastiest times of the summer.

There were plenty of tents and seating available along the street, which was closed from Hughey Alley to Martha Street, and vendors lined both sides, tempting the passersby with their fare.

On Sunday, cooking demonstrations took place on the street and the Chopped competition, sponsored by the Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino, was once again held for all to see.

“All of the restaurants did an amazing job and stepped up to the plate with delicious, healthy and gluten free dishes,” said Brian McFadden, Executive Director of the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce. “Of the Taste events I have seen this summer in Western NY, we are the only one that limits the participants to local only, plus of course our long-time sponsor and partner, the Seneca Allegany Casino & Resort … We are fortunate to have so many great establishments.”

Donna Brown and her husband drove in from Medina, about two hours away, just to attend the Taste. It was their second time in line at Finnerty’s Tap Room. 

“This is very good,” said Brown of the pad thai. “So was the brisket at Balloons. It was top notch.” Her husband, Bob, could only give it a thumbs up, his mouth too full of the pad thai to give his verbal opinion. 

Kim Webb was in the area for the weekend with friends Barbara Tigman and Betty Wong, all from Toronto, and just happened on the Taste. She and Tigman were trying out the beef on weck perogies at Ellicottville Brewing Company. 

Christian Tighe, who runs the kitchen for EBC, said the dish was “basically beef wrapped up in the pierogi,” with caraway seeds, pretzel salt and horsey cream sauce on the side. If you missed it, Tighe said the dish was available on their menu inside.

“It’s very good. It’s very tasty,” Webb said. “The whole thing is good. There’s a lot of people.”

There were hundreds of people throughout the day, but no one seemed to mind standing in the (sometimes long) lines on the sidewalks outside the restaurants. They were busy perusing the brochure of the Taste and deciding where to go next. The brochure handily came complete with a map of where each of the 23 restaurants are located, their menu items available and the number of tickets necessary for their purchase.

Judging of salads, entrees, desserts, healthy choices and non-alcoholic drinks took place early in the afternoon Saturday, so Taste goers had the opportunity to check out what the judges ascertained was the best dishes of the event.

“Each restaurant had to select a category that they wanted to be judged in this year,” said Barb Pump, Project Development Manager at the chamber. “I feel that the judging system we had this year allowed each restaurant to be creative in something that they are comfortable in, and it showed with presentation, creativity and of course taste.”

Judges included: Jodi Cerza and Drew Cerza, the “Chicken Wing King” in charge of National Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival held each Labor Day; Marc Muscato, with Rock Autism; and Jana Eisenberg, representing Buffalo Spree.

The four awards and the winners were:

Best Healthy Choice: Villaggio; Grain Bowl.

Best Entrée: West Rose; Smoked Brisket w/House made Hummus.

Best Appetizer: Finnerty’s Tap Room; Irish Combo (Rueben Meatball and Rueben Roll).

Best Dessert: Cupcaked; Oreo Mousse Cup.

Kid’s Choice: Holiday Valley; Korean BBQ Octopus.

The kid’s choice was decided by Jackson, Daniel and Cayda Kruszynski, all 10 and under.

This year’s Taste lineup included Balloons Restaurant & Nightclub, John Harvard’s Brew House, Cupcaked Bakery, Dina’s, Dina’s at the Mont, Ellicottville Brewing Company, Ellicottville Distillery, Finnerty’s Taproom, The Gin Mill, Katy’s Café, Madigan’s, Monroe Street Brick & Brew, The Public House Ellicottville, Seneca Allegany Casino & Resort, Silver Fox Steakhouse, Steelbound Brewery & Distillery, West Rose (new, opening this fall, next door to Kazoo II), The Tee Bar, Tim & Bonnie’s Pizza, TOPS Markets, Villaggio, Watson’s Chocolates and The Winery of Ellicottville.