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Mets 1 Dodgers 0


Keith's Grill, moving out of the shadows.

I love when the Mets take our advice before we even offer it. In Amazin’ Avenue Annual 2011 [2], Jason and I offered up a slew of ideas on how to best extended the Mets legacy at Citi Field. One of them, which we expanded upon recently, was reinstituting the Banner Day doubleheader in 2012 [3] and making it again a yearly Met tradition. The Mets haven’t gotten back to us on that.

But one thing they did go ahead and implement (presumably in the works before our article was published so we can’t take credit for it) was our suggestion that they Name More Stuff after Met legends. Camden Yards celebrates Boog Powell with barbecue. Citizens Bank Park pays homage to Greg Luzinski with barbecue. Manny Sanguillen has a barbecue stand in PNC Park. There seems to be a culinary theme there, and there’s already a popular barbecue concession at Citi Field, and one of the most beloved Mets of all time was a longtime spare rib chef of great renown…so we said, hey, how about hooking up Rusty Staub? What could be better than adding a touch of Le Grand Orange to the delectable aroma of Blue Smoke? (Actually, that idea was generated by FAFIF reader Kevin From Flushing, but he said go right ahead and co-opt it, so we did.)

I don’t know what the politics of barbecue sauce are, exactly, but I haven’t seen any famous red hair around the pulled pork, so there went that brilliant concept for now. We also didn’t see any movement on our notion that the Acela Club should be the Stork Club Presented by Acela, with George Theodore as official greeter; or Hershey’s Dunk Tank should be transformed into Hershey’s Krane Pool; or, one we (and Kevin) really thought was a natural, rechristening the El Verano Taqueria as Mex’s El Verano Taqueria.

Mex! Keith Hernandez! Tacos! C’mon!

That hasn’t flown, to date, but boy was I happy when on the first homestand of 2011 I noticed, tucked away in a corner of the left field Field Level concourse was a kiosk marked KEITH’S GRILL. I was even happier when I realized Keith wasn’t the name of some brokerage firm but actually Keith Hernandez, late of first base and more permanently of the SNY broadcast booth.

The Mets named something for a Met! Not as fluid a connection to the Met in question as we had proposed, but it was a step in the right direction. Only problem was nobody was going to Keith’s Grill. It was out of the way, it was unknown and it sold the one item everybody was already queuing up for just up the hallway: hamburgers. Keith in 2011 had an unenviable task: displacing (a little, anyway) Shake Shack. It looked to be way tougher than Keith’s assignment in 1983: displacing Dave Kingman.

Since first examining Keith’s Grill, some sizzle has gotten going. Keith himself has put on his straightest face and publicized the heck (if not hell) out of it. I saw a lengthy segment on Mets Weekly in which Keith explained why his burgers — the Mex and the Gold Glove — are constructed as they are. Then a half-inning or so was devoted during a telecast to showing how they’re made. Why watch Scott Hairston take a swing when you can watch Keith Hernandez take a much juicier bite?

I’m happy to report, based on experiential observation, that Keith’s Grill is catching on. Nice little line on Tuesday night for its two-piece menu, which I joined so I could see for myself if the Gold Glove glittered in real life as it did on TV. It wasn’t a Shake Shack wait by any means, but it also wasn’t ready to go. They really grill those burgers for you, which takes a few minutes. And they really do add kettle chips and a Tootsie Pop garnish for your ten bucks.

The verdict? I liked it. It’s a Brooklyn Burger, which means the meat is…well, let’s just say it’s not Shake Shack (which I think is dandy if not otherworldly), but the fixin’s are applied as Keith promised they’d be (ketchup holding the pickles in place, et al) and it’s a satisfying nosh. More than a nosh. It’s substantial. The chopped onions really make the burger an event and the kettle chips (generously doled) make it a meal.

Plus, it’s Keith’s Grill. Supporting Keith is not a bad thing to do at all.


Duke's Grill, relegated to CGI.

The existence of something named for a Met put me in mind of the original plan for Citi Field, or at least one aspect of it as illustrated in the CGI renderings that made the rounds when the ballpark was yet to have as much a corporate sponsor. Across from the Ebbets Club was something named Duke’s Grill. It was presumably a placeholder, penciled in to give us an idea of what we were in for. I was less impressed by the grill than I was wary of Duke’s. We already knew we were in for an Ebbets Field facade and an Ebbets Club and a Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Duke’s Grill, too? Even as an example of what was to come, I found the prospective saturation-Dodgering [5] of the Mets’ new home a Bummer.

Duke Snider was a Met for one season [6], but I seriously doubt Duke’s Grill was an homage to that [7], his 1963 All-Star status notwithstanding. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Pee Wee’s Ice Cream and a Furillo’s Pizza and a Gene Hermanski Ham ‘n’ Eggery on the drawing board somewhere. It riles me up a bit to think what a Brooklyn Dodger wonderland Citi Field was conceived as (for one man) and it sates me to know there was Mets fan blowback to the overdoing of the theme, and that a marvelous Mets museum was opened in the park’s second year, and that in the third year there is no longer an Ebbets Club but there is definitely a Keith’s Grill.

We still want our Banner Day Doubleheader back next year, but we appreciate the Gold Glove burger in the meantime.