The purpose of my visit to the new Yankee Stadium had little to do with a baseball game. I was there to survey the food options and rate perhaps a dozen of them. I thought this would be a valuable service for fans who didn’t wish to subject their bodies to the very abuse I was prepared to endure in my role as self-sacrificing food critic.
The plan unravelled. For starters, the Yankee fans were feeding like ducks at a foie gras farm, only their indiscriminate gorging was voluntary. They were relishing the very abuse from which I was hoping to spare them. But ultimately it was the numbers posted on the blue menu boards that threw me off course.
The food concessionaires at Yankee Stadium are bound by a regulation of the New York City health department requiring restaurants with 15 or more outlets to list calorie counts for all the foods and drinks they sell. But a law intended to help combat obesity was having the opposite effect on me.
Looking at the menu for the Japanese food stand called Soy Kitchen, I saw that the 160-calorie veggie (sushi) roll was priced at $9.75. That’s about 6 cents per calorie. By way of comparison, at the hot dog and hamburger stand called Fan Favorites, the 1,341-calorie portion of Nathan’s cheese fries was priced at $7.25 – about 1/2 penny per calorie. Clearly the cheese fries were a much better value, calorie for a calorie, than the veggie roll. And no single item anywhere in the stadium was more exorbitant than Poland spring water: $5 for zero calories. Positively criminal – I’ll never splurge for bottled water at a baseball game again!
In the end I did sample 7 or 8 food items. The sliders (mini-burgers), chicken barbecue sandwich and the Philly cheesesteak were dismal. The franks, though carrying the once vaunted Nathan’s name, were disappointing. No snap. No juice. The garlic fries were pretty good. The single best item was the hand-carved steak sandwich from the fine Manhattan butcher Lobel’s.
Lobel’s has installed a windowed reproduction of its Madison Avenue butcher shop on the stadium’s field-level concourse. You can see what the USDA dry-aged strip looks like before the marbled steaks are trimmed, grilled and carved. It’s a darn good sandwich, despite the ordinary roll atop which the tender yet firm slices of juice-dripping strip steak are layered. And though $15 may sound like a lot for a sandwich, it amounts to a measly 3 cents for every succulent calorie.