Hot Dogs, Peanuts, and Bluefin Tuna?

Today's Times profiles the eats coming at both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.  We certainly prefer sports bars and dirty water dogs, but the foodie in us appreciates the showcasing of local purveyors. Unfortunately, the cost of admission alone might prevent us from spending $15 on a sandwich with Lobel's beef (we've had steaks from Lobel's once – yes they were spectacular — in both taste and cost).

Yankee Stadium will feature, amongst others, Masaharu Morimoto (brilliant, if overpriced in Chelsea), April Bloomfield (we're not a fan, if only because we've never gotten a seat at her restaurants due to what seems like serious attitude from the obnoxious hosts at her too-cool-for-school hangouts), and a local Bronx sushi purveyor called "Soy Kitchen".  Citi Field looks to be the more interesting and also more "populist" spot, that is if transplanted $8 brisket-laced hamburgers qualify — Danny Meyer, one of NYC's top restaurateurs, takes the helm of food services.  

Good times for foodies, though it remains to be seen if anyone will have money left in their wallets to eat at the games.

34 comments… add one

  • I’m super-suspicious of up-market dining in stadiums. The big news for me is that the new YS will have actual cooking capacity at most of the concession stands, and they will actually grill Nathan’s dogs. That’s phenomenal. (Of course, if they hire the same concession staffers/managers, the experience will still be a disaster.) I have trouble justifying $15 for a sandwich, and it sounds like the Lobel’s will be hard to find. Read the article and you see that the big names are only making appearances behind what i suspect will be high-end all-you-can-eat buffets. That doesn’t sound that appealing to me.
    The ever savvy Danny Meyer has some smart ideas over at shea2: i think the belgian fries are a winner and the excellent shake shack burger at under $6 may be the best stadium food deal anywhere. Still.
    Bottom line: Go to a stadium for baseball. Have a dog. Have a beer. Some cracker jack. If you want a decent meal, go to a restaurant.

    YF March 25, 2009, 8:42 am
  • for the record, i was underwhelmed by the spotted pig on our visit. its famous gnudi are good, but not the transcendent dining experience some foodies purport, especially when you’re sitting on a 3-legged stool with half the bar spilling over onto your table. i found the roquefort burger, another house specialty, overly salty, with a disintegrating bun (english muffin, if memory serves). credit to bloomfield for making here place such a destination point for foodies, for her experimental cooking, and dedication to offal (not my thing–and i suspect not what will work at the stadium). if you go, it’s going to be a scene. if you can accept that than you’ll enjoy it.

    YF March 25, 2009, 8:50 am
  • I have trouble justifying $15 for a sandwich
    How much was that burger at the Spotted Pig?
    I share YF’s skepticism about the eventual quality of the food, to an extent, but mass-produced food can be good if it is well-produced. The execution won’t need to be perfect, but if it is acceptable and the ingredients are good then why not embrace the possibilities? As for the cost of the goods, that’s my biggest concern – that this food will simply be unaffordable.
    As for the Spotted Pig (and the John Dory), I had the exact same two experiences at the two restaurants three years apart: snobby, a**holish hosts barely acknowledging the existence of two willing-to-pay customers at nearly empty restaurants. We expected attitude, we’re not naive, but it was over the top. At this point I don’t give a shit if the gnudi give me x-ray vision, I am passing on the whole Bloomfield franchise. Two strikes and you’re out.

    SF March 25, 2009, 9:09 am
  • Agree completely. If I want a decent but overpriced meal from any of those chefs, I’ll go to their restaurants (and Morimoto in Philly went noticeably downhill when they opened in Chelsea). Cooking at that scale is just not the same, even for burgers. I’ve been to PNC a few times, and the Primanti Bros looks the same but it’s not. Corners are cut in everything from ingredients to preparation to freshness.
    I’d rather spread my money around the Bronx then go watch the game. That way I get a hot meal and the entertainment but without standing in line and stuffing my face between pitches.

    Rob March 25, 2009, 9:10 am
  • mass-produced food can be good if it is well-produced
    There seems to be a contradiction in there. Ever been to a decent buffet? I haven’t and I’ve paid dearly for many attempts. Some pricey brunch buffets barely pull it off but that’s usually eggs, waffles, pastries with a raw bar and meat station thrown in. Main dishes though? For me, never have found one. Too much that can go wrong.

    Rob March 25, 2009, 9:14 am
  • Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese & Shoestrings $ 17
    To answer my own question, direct from the SP website, it looks like YF WILL pay $15 for a sandwich.
    ;-)
    As for the “buffet” question, this is the wrong comparison. Ever been to a huge catered event with stellar food? I have, and in a couple cases the food was prepared for several hundred people. The order of magnitude may be different in a stadium of thousands, but I don’t know how many customers each niche product is planning to serve. As I said, I am skeptical (like you and YF) but am not willing to pre-judge the results and dismiss the possibilities.
    I also don’t understand, entirely, the “it’s not as good as the original” argument. I would never expect that to be the case with any of these purveyors. The question is whether this food is better than the alternative. I like hot dogs at a game, to be frank (pun intended), but I have also eaten terrible other stuff. I will assume the stadia can pull off the dogs, still, but if the “other stuff” improves, that’s a good thing.

    SF March 25, 2009, 9:19 am
  • Ever been to a huge catered event with stellar food?
    No. Not if the bar is “stellar”.
    Hey, I’m not going to begrudge any one their stadium dog. I’m just not going to pay for it and the soggy fries. I’d rather hit the Court Deli for less money and better food. You and I are different. I don’t need to sample the fair to know I won’t enjoy it.
    Besides, as you note, it sounds like the best food at Yankee Stadium is behind a classwall. The folks paying that much live like pigs so feeding them as such, staffed by Morimoto, makes perfect sense!

    Rob March 25, 2009, 9:32 am
  • Ever been to a huge catered event with stellar food?
    The best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life was at an IT convention in DC: cold roast-beef sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and a bit of salt and pepper. They had thousands of these things, and they were absolutely phenomenal. We had eaten brunch about an hour beforehand, so I wasn’t even that hungry.

    Atheose March 25, 2009, 9:33 am
  • You and I are different. I don’t need to sample the fair to know I won’t enjoy it.
    Let me guess, you are also the type of person who will disparage a movie without having seen it, will critique a book having not read it, etc. This statement sums you up quite perfectly.

    SF March 25, 2009, 9:41 am
  • Ummm, no. Just that I’ve had enough food experiences, and specifically at stadia, to know that what you claim is possible, but yet don’t cite examples, is something I think is close to impossible.
    And it’s not like the Court Deli is highfalutin…

    Rob March 25, 2009, 9:48 am
  • I have heard good things about the fish tacos in San Diego. But the folks passing along that info still recommend, as I do, eating that same fare at the places around the stadium, not in it.

    Rob March 25, 2009, 9:53 am
  • yet don’t cite examples
    Well, I haven’t been to either stadium yet, so I can’t make any assertions. I have been to exactly three baseball stadia in the last five years: Yankee, Shea, and Fenway. The one non-dog experience I had was Legal Seafoods Chowder at the Fens, and though soup is much more easily produced en masse it was very good. I haven’t been to Chavez, or Safeco, or other more well-known stadia that serve higher-end food, so simply cannot judge. And those parks may or may not be any indication of whether or not Danny Meyer can pull off his efforts at Citi, so it’s not worth conflating them.
    I simply have hopes that these options may be better than the alternatives within the parks, which frankly isn’t all that controversial.

    SF March 25, 2009, 9:53 am
  • I have heard good things about the fish tacos in San Diego. But the folks passing along that info still recommend, as I do, eating that same fare at the places around the stadium, not in it.
    That’s all well and good and worth encouraging (reductively, I would never buy peanuts inside Fenway and only from a vendor outside, the inside nuts are horrid and YF and I typically get our initial course outside Fenway during our annual trip), but not everyone can make those sidetrips, for whatever reasons.

    SF March 25, 2009, 9:56 am
  • Let me guess, you are also the type of person to believe in world peace and honest politicians.

    Rob March 25, 2009, 9:58 am
  • You can do large scale and keep the quality high. The Shack burger is a great example of this. I don’t know that it’s THE BEST burger in the city, though plenty think so, but it’s definitely excellent, and served in huge numbers in a public setting. buffet’s can be quite good–some cuisines hold up better in this format–i just have doubts that the rotating star chefs will produce it. but again, the big and welcome news under all the fanfare for yankee fans is that the stadium will be freshly grilling nathan’s hot dogs, which are about the best dogs you can get, at most of its concession stands. this is a MONSTER improvement. it’s phenomenal.

    YF March 25, 2009, 9:59 am
  • not everyone can make those sidetrips, for whatever reasons.
    I’ve been served takeout at the Court Deli in under ten minutes. Walking there and back takes five. So we’re talking a twenty minute excursion.

    Rob March 25, 2009, 10:01 am
  • but again, the big and welcome news under all the fanfare for yankee fans is that the stadium will be freshly grilling nathan’s hot dogs, which are about the best dogs you can get, at most of its concession stands
    This excites me too. Gray’s should have gotten in on the action at one of the parks. Nothing is better than two with mustard, scooped up off the tin foil into a warm bun.

    SF March 25, 2009, 10:02 am
  • re april bloomfield, i’m not going to defend her, but let me say at least that it’s nice that the yanks are working with a woman in a largely male dominated field. of course, i wish they would have picked gabrielle hamilton, who might be described as bill james did don mattingly: 100 percent chef, 0 percent bullshit. but i suspect that even if the yanks asked, she would have said no, and good for her.

    YF March 25, 2009, 10:03 am
  • Let me guess, you are also the type of person to believe in world peace and honest politicians.
    Nope, hardly. I only believe that we should strive for MORE world peace and MORE honest politicians.
    And better ballpark food.

    SF March 25, 2009, 10:04 am
  • gabrielle hamilton, who might be described as bill james did don mattingly: 100 percent chef, 0 percent bullshit. but i suspect that even if the yanks asked, she would have said no, and good for her
    Who the hell wants to eat radishes and butter at a ballgame? And her peanuts, while authentic, are shelled, and boiled and soft. She wouldn’t have been right, culinarily speaking. She does make a good burger though.

    SF March 25, 2009, 10:06 am
  • -radishes and butter
    didn’t you know baseball was french:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/10/books/review/10LAMSTER.html

    YF March 25, 2009, 10:09 am
  • Vos radis pâlissent par rapport à ma boîte d’écrous

    SF March 25, 2009, 10:18 am
  • Don’t get me wrong. I would love to get to the park and sample decent food for a fair price. If any reviews from respectable sources suggest I can find that, then I’ll give it a try. But I think I’ll be waiting a long time, esp in NY. I’m hopeful for the Sportsbar, but considering you’ll be looking down on the game, I can’t see how they won’t charge a premium.
    Otherwise, talking about food behind the classwall is a different type of comparison. Those folks are already paying out the nose and the food is included for free. The chefs you mention certainly won’t be standing at carts.

    Rob March 25, 2009, 10:23 am
  • The chefs you mention certainly won’t be standing at carts.
    Nor would I expect them to be. They aren’t even in their own kitchens much of the time.

    SF March 25, 2009, 10:26 am
  • Let’s say the Steak Shack at Shea is ridiculously good. What are the chances then that the lines will also be manageable? To echo a previous contentious post – that contradiction seems unsustainable.

    Rob March 25, 2009, 10:45 am
  • Damn, I always manage to say Steak Shake. Now I’ve typed it too!

    Rob March 25, 2009, 10:53 am
  • I’ll always be partial to the Best’s Kosher dogs at Comiskey.
    Comiskey, actually, has a nice variety of food, all of which gets good reviews and none of which makes you feel as though you’re not in a ballpark.
    (And it’ll always be Comiskey to me. The mobile phone people who own the naming rights aren’t paying me to say it.)

    I'mBillMcNeal March 25, 2009, 9:44 pm
  • There are many outfits than can crank out incredible food on large scale. I don’t mean to imply it to be simple, but I know for a fact that it is executable, repeatedly.
    That said, a boiled dog in a cheap bun with mustard is pretty darn tasty.

    attackgerbil March 25, 2009, 9:56 pm
  • There are many outfits than can crank out incredible food on large scale.
    Who?

    Rob March 26, 2009, 7:21 am
  • Specific to where you live, wouldn’t know.
    In the area where I live, Crave, Vibrant Table, Jake’s, several of the RUI properties, and my company, just to name a few.

    attackgerbil March 26, 2009, 11:24 am
  • Rob…
    I was in your camp for a long time, until I met my wife, who works for an ABSURDLY high end catering company, like forty thousand dollar cocktail parties for forty people kind of absurd.
    They routinely do million dollar weddings.
    We finally ended up at an event for dinner that her company was doing, 300 people and the food was out of this world. I didn’t think it was possible until I experienced it.
    As far as ballpark food goes, I tend to be a person that eats with all my senses, so the same food tastes very different to me depending on the situation and my surroundings.
    In my house on a cold winter day a Fenway Frank from a Fenway vendor might taste like crap, but at a game there nothing like it to me personally.
    Keep it simple and traditional, also, I’m not eating cracker jacks until they put it back in the box where it belongs.

    LocklandSF March 26, 2009, 1:20 pm
  • mmm…a steak shake. Sounds awesome to me.

    Brad March 26, 2009, 4:17 pm
  • There are many outfits than can crank out incredible food on large scale.
    Who?

    McDonalds. Burger King. Taco Bell. Your local high school cafeteria…
    All delicious cuisine for the masses.

    SoxFan March 26, 2009, 5:43 pm
  • I was at the SJU/Georgetown game yesterday, and the stadium is nice. Shake Shack was not full of people, but it also wasn’t up 100%..

    Lar March 30, 2009, 1:33 pm

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