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Mariners Stress Eating

Not just pizza. “Apizza.”

Be honest — you probably don’t think of Seattle sports fans as “fortunate human beings.” Well, maybe that changes today, when you learn about the revamped food offerings at Safeco Field.

In the above-linked press release, the Centerplate concessions company proudly proclaims: “[o]ur mission was to create a restaurant-style hospitality experience – the anti-fast food – in a concession environment.” Sounds great! Let’s look at the new offerings and see how they did:

• Apizza with Chef Bill Pustari
• Flying Turtle Cantina/Tortugas Voladoras with Chef Roberto Santibañez
• Hamburg + Frites with Chef Ethan Stowell
• La Crêperie, Authentic Parisian Crêpes with Chef Ethan Stowell

Parsing “[Food] with [Chef Name]” naming convention… translating into English… done. So, Mariners fans will enjoy the following “anti-fast food” options at 2011 home games:

• Pizza
• Tacos
• Burgers + Fries
• Les Crepes

Not the sophisticated fare I was expecting, but still: there’s crepes! Although I’m skeptical about a joint called “La Crêperie” killing it at an American sports venue.

Which gets us to a problem. At ballgames, you have a sizeable constituency who in their whole lives have basically only ever eaten ballpark food, even outside of ballparks. Then you have another set of people who eat all sorts of things in their regular lives. But at the ballpark, they normally want to eat ballpark food. So generally, the recipe for success should be to offer baseball fans really excellent, traditional ballpark food.

That’s not to say don’t try new things too, but don’t dress up pizza and burgers as “Apizza” and “Hamburg + Frites.” Seattleites aren’t THAT pretentious (non-coffee division).

PR spin aside, some of these new options sound pretty appealing. My thoughts:

Apizza: That’s another name for New Haven-style pizza. Which is very nice thin-crust pizza, and apparently Chef Pustari runs a well-regarded place in New Haven, so that should be tasty. I don’t personally eat pizza at baseball games, but I’m ok with the fact that other people do.

Flying Turtle Cantina: The press release claims that founding chef Roberto Santibañez is “the [emphasis mine] authority on authentic Mexican cuisine” and then notes his many professional involvements, including Rosa Mexicana in New York and Fonda San Miguel in Austin. I should say that I am not a fan of this haute Mexican food. However, Santibañez’s restaurants are popular, and haute Mexican is better than no Mexican.

French-inflected burgers and crepes: These were created by Ethan Stowell, a Seattle chef. While I haven’t eaten at any of his restaurants, one’s named after an M.F.K. Fisher book, which earns him big points. I could definitely see myself settling into a melty, delicious ham and gruyere crepe at a chilly night game in September. Hopefully Mariners fans will support the local guy and try his food.