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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Citi Field: Less Filling, Tastes Great?

Can a smaller ballpark whip up a bigger menu? A better menu? Our mouths are watering at the possibilities but our boilers are gurgling considering the source.

Noticed on MetsBlog that Aramark has reupped as the Mets' food concessionaire for the first thirty years of the Citi Field era. In fact, we (and/or our descendants) will be attempting to swallow what Aramark sells us after the initial Citi name-licensing deal expires in 2029.

I hope whatever the 'Mark is cooking is a vast step up over the prevailing Shea cuisine which has presumably been its responsibility. We just kind of assume it will be tastier because what's the point of building a whole new ballpark if you're not going to improve everything that can be improved? My latter-day romanticizing of Shea stops square at the knish counter. The food, with the occasional quirky exception (keep Daruma!), has been uniformly lousy and overpriced forever. It's a mortal lock to remain overpriced but maybe the culinary scouting report will improve when we move ever so slightly east.

According to the Aramark release, they handle a whole slew of ballparks, some of which I've attended, a few where I've dined not unhappily. They don't have Busch, which is too bad, because the food selection was awesome at Busch last summer. Things I hadn't even thought you could stand on line for (a fairly short line at that) and buy at a ballgame without going through some fancy-pants restaurant were off-the-charts delightful: a club sandwich, for example. A root beer float, for crissake. Get me a club sandwich and a root beer float and I'll be one happy camper.

Aramark's got Citizens Bank Park among its clientele. I didn't have the patience to wait for the cheesesteak in Philly three years ago and bought nachos. The cheese sauce was whipped by the wind, but what we managed to recover from our shirts wasn't bad. That's a good sign, I suppose.

If Aramark forgets to pack the chicken tenders for the move to Citi Field, they'll have my everlasting appreciation. The last time I saw the Diamondbacks at Shea before Friday night was August 2004. That was also the last time I had the chicken tenders. “Tender” does not describe my postgame reaction to them. Just knowing they are still served somewhere behind where I sit stirs the queasiness quotient. If chicken tenders are running amok in the mezzanine, can we be sure we won't be trading for Armando Benitez again?

I have indigestion issues to begin with and given my ballgame volume of late (eleven this year), I've taken to traveling with my own turkey sandwiches in gastric self-defense. But quite frankly I get bored by my discipline and peckish by the seventh. Last Friday I broke down and paid $4.75 for the Nathan's fries. Well, $ .25 for the fries, $4.50 for the grease. That doesn't happen at Nathan's.

I'll keep an open mind and, not surprisingly, an open mouth. But I hope this isn't like re-signing Bobby Bonilla and expecting him to be not Bobby Bonilla after all your experience with him has indicated he will never be anything but Bobby Bonilla.

Who I think may have grabbed a few chicken tenders on his way out the door.

16 comments to Citi Field: Less Filling, Tastes Great?

  • Anonymous

    I have to agree that the food at Shea is horrible..in fact, I think they got rid of the knishes, because I have yet to see one(12 games for me)
    I don't care for sushi, not that i'm often on the field level anyway. The best thing they serve otherwise is probably Bubba Burgers.
    There better be better stuff at Citifield, and i expect there will be. lately when i'm at shea I get the feeling that they can't be bothered with much knowing the place is gone soon anyway.

  • Anonymous

    Why would anyone in their right mind actually willingly buy food at Shea or [corporate named] Field when it costs so freakin' much?
    Ever hear of eating before you go to the ballpark?
    Are hot dogs 8 dollars yet? What's a soda cost?

  • Anonymous

    Buying food at the ballpark is a sign of either A) idiocy or 2) insanity or C) both… I'm not sure which yet but maybe C.

  • Anonymous

    Upper deck , Mezz. and Loge clients dont have the same access to the better food at Shea, no doubt..Dont get me wrong the food there is not so great, but the again it never really was..Most everthing else sucks too. The New Era cap stands suck. Nobody is allowed to stand outside and sell t shirts or pins or pretzels. They stripped all that away!.
    I got a bad feeling about this new place. This mounument to our Brooklyn Dodger obsessed past. With its rotunda dedicated to Saint Jackie..
    Sorry Greg but I'm hung over and bummed out about last nights loss. No love for Mr. G..
    Rich

  • Anonymous

    Customers at a ballpark should not have to feel like dopes or mental patients if they have not had time to eat beforehand or, heaven forefend, decide it might be nice to get a little something in the course of three hours. Perhaps that's what Aramark counts on, but fans deserve better (our collective experience notwithstanding).

  • Anonymous

    Tailgating. Boy, I never knew what I was missing until I attended a pregame tailgate at ex-Candlestick back in '99. I mean, grilled shark and real veggies and potatoes and salad and a scrumptious dessert and wine and the whole bit, for no more than it would cost for some cold fries and a rubber hotdog and flat soda, and possibly even for less (I didn't pay for the food, but having bought similar items in the past I'm guessing). I'm almost certain they won't allow it at Citi any more than they do at Shea, though. And of course if you're going to the game on a work night, there's not a whole lot of time to eat before the game, so it would behoove them to at least make sure whatever they're serving isn't pure rubber, so people don't literally barf and all.

  • Anonymous

    I personally am a large (in every sense of thew word) fan of the Premio Italian-STYLE sausages purveyed in the Upper Deck. They taste legit, even if I have a hard time eating one without peppers & onions being strewn upon Shea concrete in the evirons of the entrance ramp to Sec. 22…

  • Anonymous

    I allow myself maybe two a year (no peppers). Haven't partaken in 2007 as of yet. Still stockpiling Pepcid.

  • Anonymous

    I will say that eating one is like listening to WCBS-FM in the mid-'80's: The Melody Lingers On…

  • Anonymous

    Tailgating is and should stay a football tradition. At a baseball game we like to yell at the players with our mouths full of food. Part of being at a ballgame is consuming mass quantities of foods that are bad for you while in the comfort of your own seat. The food should at least be edible. I'm sure they sucked but as a boy I remember the Harry M. Stevens folks passing around some lovely hot dogs (Kahn's maybe?) that I only ate 2-3 off per inn…game. Then the dixie cup style ice cream, etc. That was good eats…
    Tailgating is nice but should be reserved for getting drunk before the big U vs. State game or spending the afternoon in the parking lot for a game you don't actually have tickets for. But the idea of dragging all of my stuff to FreePorn Stadium just so I can cook outside around a bunch of people I don't know or like doesn't much appeal to me. I'd rather tailgate in my backyard near my TV, bathroom and napping areas. The main point of tailgating, besides consuming huge quantities of Schlitz and bratwurst, is to begin feeding the aggression needed to sit through 4 hours at a football game, especially in a cold weather town. In baseball we prefer the aggression to be sparked randomly, not built up over an entire day. It's safer that way.
    Joel

  • Anonymous

    Given the summer heat and humidity in much of the country, it's very possible that the baseball tailgating scenario I described would only work in the SF Bay Area, or perhaps the Pacific Northwest (where I live now). Maybe in SoCal too, but even there it gets frigging hot in the summer, albeit much drier. Standing around in 90-plus degree heat and humidity with the sun beating down on my head to grill shark wouldn't put me in a very festive mood. It probably wouldn't work well in 110-plus-degree “dry heat” either (or as we used to say in Phoenix, “it's a dry heave!”). But I'm telling you, that was a rockin' meal.

  • Anonymous

    I'm of a mind that if there's an event in a stadium, there should be tailgating. Baseball, football, concert… heck we tailgated for a college buddy's wedding. (The Missus, as we pull into the Church parking lot: “Oh my God, are those people drinking?” Me: “Yeah, um, that's us.”)
    However, I'm an advocate of the simple tailgate. An Italian hoagie from Ragtime on Cross Bay Blvd or Vincenzo's on SI, a couple of cans of whatever beer was on sale, a cigar if there's time. This elaborate look-at-me, tables with tablecloths and barbecue grills and smokers and rotisseries and crudite' platters and tents and rvs and live bands and photographers… enough. No one's impressed, and you're taking up too many parking spaces.
    As Greg said, sometimes (especially on work nights like tonight) you don't have time to eat before the game. In those instances, it'd be nice if there were some decent, edible options that don't take 10 minutes per customer for the imbeciles behind the counter to prepare. Do like Philly and sub out booths to local joints.
    I've had nothing but ill feelings towards Aramark since freshman year of college when we were fed by their subsidiary (or parent co) ARA and I spied some of their provisions being trucked into the cafeteria in cartons marked “Low Grade But Edible”.

  • Anonymous

    Do any of you folks remember when you could
    have a pre-packaged hot dog at Shea. Celophane wrapped- a dog in a bag? Got them in the upper deck for a period of some years? How about the pizza in a white box..
    Rich

  • Anonymous

    Loved those personal pizzas.

  • Anonymous

    'Tell the chef this steak still has marks where the jockey was hittin' it. I had better food at the ballpark!'-Rodey Dangerfield in Caddyshack.
    There's a reason ballpark food has the stigma. Did Harry M. Stevens sell anything other than dogs/cokes/beer?

  • Anonymous

    Good question. Stevens (which Aramark bought out about ten years ago) never seemed all that adventurous, those personal pizzas being the height of haute cuisine at Shea. There's always been this lingering ethic of “we're doin' youse a favor by sellin' youse all dis fancy stuff, so shut up and eat it” when it comes to anything beyond the simple hot dog.
    Which at Shea, like the fries, comes with the Nathan's seal of approval but isn't a damn thing like Nathan's franks.