Dinner at Dusk: food trucks on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway

The Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Foundation invited 5 popular food trucks to linger in Dewey Square beyond their typical closing time. They negotiated a $15 price fixe that allowed you to sample something from each of the trucks (and was ample food) for a little less than à la carte. No beverages included, but a pretty good deal. The trucks present were Clover, Momogoose, Grilled Cheese Nation, BBQ Smith and Kickass Cupcakes.

Best in the ‘all-around’ category was BBQ Smith. Their offering on the price fixe was a taco with your choice of meat and a small side of their cucumber corn salad or potato salad or a blondie. The portion size was great. The meat in the taco (I got chicken) was flavorful and tender and melded well with the condiments in the non-dominant tortilla. And the cucumber corn salad with dilly beans and buttermilk dressing was superb. Fresh, crisp, cool, flavorful, with the veggies leading over the dressing. My only complaint about BBQ Smith was time. They were sl-o-o-w. Like, “Is someone doing hostage negotiations for my food?” slow. This was my first Boston food truck experience, so it is possible my expectations need adjustment rather than the service.

I would rank Grilled Cheese Nation second. They make a beautiful grilled cheese sandwich with excellent bread to cheese ratio. The bread has presence and flavor that complements the sandwich. The bread was not too crispy and the way they stack and wrap the two triangular halves of the sandwich made for an appealing package. Their truck is really high (which they get a lot of comments on). I found this incredibly amusing. They were a little slow but still faster than BBQ Smith and I had a little more patience for trying to get cheese melted just right. I know they want a universal crowd pleaser and are trying to save on ingredients-cost in a price fixe but they would have been better represented by one of their more interesting sandwiches. It was a very good white bread and cheddar sandwich, but still a little boring.

Momogoose was not well represented by their crispy rolls. They were good enough, but anything deep fried always is. The filling was not very flavorful and it was hard to tell if there was anything unique to it. I will definitely give them another chance, but I will be looking to taste the Bulgogi Beef or Korean BBQ Chicken, something that let’s them show off their Asian styling.

CloverClover, Clover, Clover. They were out of everything I wanted. This is apparently a common occurrence. Good for them. But perhaps…Look, frustrated customers are, by definition, not happy customers. I’m just saying. And…I admire your spunk. Heck! I’m not out there. But the aesthetic is hard to love. One day, maybe I will camp out over night, show up at the very beginning of your day, and be able to get something I want. Or maybe I will stick with the very good vegetarian food I make at home. Sorry. That was mean. Okay, I’m over it.

[Edit: Ayr, from Clover was thoughtful enough to open a discussion about this post in the comments below. This link: http://www.cloverfoodlab.com/?p=5931 goes to a post explaining that Clover running out of food is part of the company philosophy. It helps to keep the food they serve fresh and avoid food waste. I believe in those principles. My point seems to have been poorly served by the tone I chose above. I hope it is more clear below.]

Kickass Cupcakes. This was my second encounter with Kickass Cupcakes. After, my first encounter I blamed the establishment that was serving them and did not quite let them come to room temperature. I was excited to give them another shot tonight. Kickass Cupcakes is a great name for a food business. Unfortunately, it necessitates a product that is better than the one they make. Their mini cupcakes are always a little dry. The cupcake to frosting ratio is good and the frosting is good, but the cake has a texture that is finer than I like, and in the cupcakes I have tried, the cake never has enough flavor to complement the frosting.

The whole event was pretty a cool way to do al fresco dining. I hope it brought enough people out for RFKGWF to do it again. More importantly, I hope there were enough customers (there were a lot of à la carte buyers) to make the extra hours worthwhile for the vendors!

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2 thoughts on “Dinner at Dusk: food trucks on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway

  1. Wow, where’s that hostility coming from Alli?

    If you’re curious why we run out you can read more here: http://www.cloverfoodlab.com/?p=5931

    Bottom line though is that like most vendors out there we’re working very hard to do our best to put out great food. We screw that up all the time, but I sense in your post a deeper underlying frustration/ anger at Clover. What gives?

    1. Hi Ayr,

      Thank you for taking the time to find, read and comment on this post. I was definitely snarky. It’s an element of my writing, my life and my personality. But I did not intend any actual hostility. I do think it is great that Clover runs out of food. It is a sign of success and, as the link above points out, a conscious and admirable stand for fresh food and against food waste. I’m updating the post to include the link and the reasoning therein.

      My point, which may have been better served by being direct, is this: When Clover frequently runs out of favorite products, while it does create some demand, it also makes the customer feel like getting those products from Clover is an effort. Eventually, if that effort is too great and if there are not other hooks, like a sexy truck or other (admittedly superficial) perks, the customer might decide that their effort is better spent on another truck or cooking at home.

      I admire the mission and principles on which Clover runs. I see nothing but good things in the press about Clover Food Lab and I can only hope that the success is as tangible as the media coverage is wide (and expanding). However, for someone approaching Clover without knowing the mission, what speaks is the food. And if the food is not there to speak, that customer might not give Clover another chance.

      Buying ingredients to optimize freshness and reduce waste is a very reasonable business strategy. It also represents a choice to prioritize those values over availability and, down the pipeline, prioritize those values over the type of customer I mentioned above.

      In this post I am pointing out that Clover is not prioritizing that type of customer and might lose them to other options, a risk of any customer-driven business endeavor.

      I apologize that by being indirect, I came off as mean. I do look forward to trying Clover Food Lab’s food one day. I hope Clover’s success has a lot of longevity.

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