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Restaurant Expo wows with food and drink at Academy of Natural Sciences

The Philadelphia Restaurant Festival was everything I wanted and more. As if straight out of a foodie’s dream, at every corner of the Academy of Natural Sciences was a table set up with a delicious sample as well as an exhibit of some sort. I love food, culture and learning, so this is exactly how I wanted to spend my evening March 31.

On top of the samples and the exhibits, there was live entertainment on different floors. There were DJs as well as bands. It was lovely to listen to fresh music – that is, music that is not replayed repeatedly on the radio day after day.

There were a variety of restaurants that provided samples and they were fantastic. Among them were 12th Street Catering, Farmer’s Keep, Bru, Marigold Kitchen, Con Murphy’s, Chickie’s & Pete’s, Insomnia Cookies, Chima and Harvest, to name a few. There were also drink tables which featured vendors including Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Bellevue Winery, Yards, Stateside Vodka, and Fiji Water. The vendors themselves were helpful and pleasant.

Needless to say the food was out of the world. I think it is safe to assume that every vendor there provided a sample of one of their top menu items. Some of the samples included crab meat, macaroni and cheese, quinoa, sausage, tarts, shrimp, steak, fries, sauces, cookies and fancy things I cannot even pronounce. Most of the samples had sophisticated or clever names to them, which added something to the experience. There were plenty of good drink mixtures as well. I will be honest, I did not sample those that much because I cared way more about saving room for food. By the time I left I was in a heavenly food coma and definitely planned on making future visits to these restaurants.

While I ate these delicacies, I strolled through the various exhibits. My favorite was the Butterfly Room because I was surrounded by butterflies, which I absolutely loved. Other exciting exhibits included the Dinosaur Hall and the animals they showcased. I commend whoever thought to have this festival in a museum; it allowed the guests to do something while they walked around eating and drinking.

I must admit that there were a few things I think that the hosts could improve upon for next year. For starters, the only non-alcoholic drinks there were Fiji water bottles, and they were put in cardboard bins throughout the museum. At one point I was walking around trying to find water, and I continuously kept finding the bins empty. You would think that at an event with endless samples of alcohol, they would be more concerned with providing water. Next, it was unbearably hot in some areas where there were a lot of people. It was very uncomfortable and almost gave me a claustrophobic feeling, and from the looks of others, it seemed that I was not the only one feeling that way. Lastly, I wish the sponsors would have posted a recommendation for a dress code. There is a possibility I could have missed it on the website, but I wish I had known that some guests were going to wear heels and dresses. Then again, other guests showed up in sweatshirts. In any case, I still would have preferred some guidance.

In this case, the positives of the event far outweighed the negatives of the event. I was impressed with the food, drinks, vendors, music, and the exhibits. Continuously, I am impressed that some of the proceeds are going to seven different charities. Modelo Especial presented this event and Grubhub sponsored it. This event is well worth the $45-$60 for a ticket, in my opinion. If three to four hours of drinks was not enough, there was an opportunity to go to City Tap House, which held the official after party right down the street. This festival gets an A+ in my foodie book. All I can do now is hope this event is held next year and visit these restaurants in the meantime.