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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 [1] 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 [2], 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.