taste---kabobsBy Jann Wiswall

There’s only one problem with the ever-popular Taste of Ellicottville, and that’s how to decide what to try without filling up at the very first stop!

This year, 17 of Ellicottville’s best restaurants, including the two newest members of the restaurant community — Bike and Bean and Tim & Bonnie’s — are offering up their specialties of the house in tasting portions from 12-4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10–11. Because of the enormity of the selections, here are our recommendations:

Take a themed approach to making your gastronomic selections.

Bring doggie bags!

There are many ways to approach such an event, but we thought it would be fun to look at it as a themed dining adventure based on your personal favorites.

For example, if you’re a seafood aficionado, you’ll have many ways to assemble a fabulous meal with choices of crab cakes (Tips Up and Dina’s), scallops (Tips Up and Riley’s), Cajun, coconut, grilled and firecracker shrimp (Gin Mill, The Barn, Tips Up, Silver Fox), mahi mahi tacos (John Harvard’s), mussels (Dina’s) and clam chowder (Gin Mill).

Veggie lovers will appreciate the huge selection of salads from numerous eateries, along with burritos, guacamole and smoothies (Bike and Bean), artichoke Bella Roma (Ellicottville Brewing Co.), spinach ravioli and butternut squash bisque (Dina’s), mushroom soup (Katy’s), hummus (Kabob Kafe), house-made chips (Gin Mill, Madigan’s) and so much more.

Barbeque lovers will be in heaven with selections of pulled chicken (Gin Mill), brisket (Ellicottville Brewing Co.) and ribs (Riley’s). If you’re a die-hard chicken wing lover, how about picking up selections from Madigan’s, Balloons (four flavors) and Tim & Bonnie’s (eight flavors) to decide on your local fave.

If you’re interested in sandwiches, subs and pizza, you are so covered! Grab your favorites at Katy’s, Tim & Bonnie’s, John Harvard’s, Tips Up, Hoagies, Kabob Kafe and Dina’s.

For those interested in exploring some of Ellicottville’s spiciest menu items, you’ll want to try the sweet and spicy bacon-wrapped jalapenos (Katy’s), Hungarian stuffed peppers (The Barn), green chili (Bike and Bean) and chicken curry (Kabob Kafe).

While there’s no formal competition for bragging rights on either day, you can designate your own winners as you compare the shepherd’s pie offerings from EBC and Madigan’s, the macaroni and cheese recipes from Madigan’s and Dina’s at the Mont and the pork tenderloin options from Katy’s and The Barn.

Of course, you can easily craft a four or five-course al fresco dining experience with a starter, soup or salad, a couple of entrée items and dessert.

Oh, didn’t we mention dessert? While you may not think you’ll have room, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to appease your sweet tooth! Eight of the participating restaurants are featuring scrumptious desserts, from cakes, brownies, sundaes and berry cheesecakes to bread pudding and pudding cake.

Watson’s Candies and Dina’s at the Mont, in particular, are pulling out all the stops with their dessert selections. Watson’s will offer its famous sponge candy, along with ancho chili truffles, rice pudding, sea salt caramels and “Grandma’s baklava.” Dina’s at the Mont will serve up its delicious peach shortcake, cannoli, homemade cookies and delectable rocky road fudge bars.

While even visitors with the heartiest appetites can’t try everything,  don’t forget that you do have the option of filling doggie-bags (BYO) to enjoy the event for days to come!

The action takes place along Washington and Monroe streets in the center of the village. The Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the event, will be selling tickets at several booths in the area. Tickets cost $1 each. Food selections range from 1-4 tickets each. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted outside or in public areas.

For more information, visit www.ellicottvilleny.com.