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Monday, August 24, 2015

To VIP, or Not to VIP: That Is the Question

Posted By on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 1:00 PM

click to enlarge AMANDA KUEHN CARROLL
  • Amanda Kuehn Carroll

What sort of perks does $90 really get you?

Going into Friday night’s grand tasting at Fort Mason (the first of three that took place during this weekend’s Eat Drink SF) my biggest question wasn’t which of the 32 tasters or 70-plus beverage pairings I’d enjoy most (my answer being Harvest Table’s Roasted Carrots and Magnolia’s Kalifornia Kölsch), but rather how much I’d be missing out on with my General Admission ticket.

click to enlarge AMANDA KUEHN CARROLL
  • Amanda Kuehn Carroll

click to enlarge AMANDA KUEHN CARROLL
  • Amanda Kuehn Carroll
Somewhere around 1800 of this year’s frenzied foodies decided VIP access was worth the price, which at $200 per tasting is nearly double the cost of GA. Sure, there’s exclusive seating, but who wants to sit when there’s so much eating and drinking to do? Still, in case your #FOMO is as high as mine, here’s a breakdown of what VIP really gets you at a grand tasting.

Early entry into the events. With SHED and Tacolicious “selling out” early in the evening and lines for several booths backed up a good 30 people, early entry could be a convenience that’s worth the cost, especially if you want to avoid that “herd of cattle” feeling that makes you rethink the exclusivity of your epicurean excursion.

Private restrooms. It’s a toilet. In a pavilion. Even aromatherapy fragrance diffusers won’t change that.

Exclusive lounge. Plush block chairs, IKEA tables, and faux foliage provide an indoor show room in which to steal away from the masses, if you need that sort of thing. (Though the best way to maximize consumption may be to keep walking.)

Exclusive beverages. Bubbles, wines, and mixed drinks can be found elsewhere in the pavilion, but if you really need Hendrick's cocktails or Colette Champagne, this is where you find them.

Exclusive nibbles. Over 30 local chefs are pouring their hearts out on the main floor (and plenty of them are using foie gras and roe). But if you must have lobster roll, braised snake belly, and caviar to boot, it’s for VIPs only.

Clubhouse Caravan Airstream Ice Cream Parlor. For a party that’s heavy on the savory and light on the sweet, the VIP exclusive ice cream parlor is a beacon of sugary goodness. Sometimes Ghiradelli chocolate squares and Starbucks cake pops just aren’t enough to finish off a 30-course meal.

The choice — much like your eating habits in general — is yours. If you flush at the word “restricted” and get a high from priority seating, you’ll probably want to shell out for the no-holds-barred red wristband. But if you’re someone who loves the energy of a crowd and doesn’t mind waiting while the staff throws micro greens atop your tuna poke, you’re probably better off grabbing a glass and a fork and joining the rest of us on the main floor.

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A. K. Carroll

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