The new Marlins Park opens this week, and Levy Restaurants invited me for a food tour. First thought: Centerfield sculpture notwithstanding, the stadium is beautiful. As far as the concession foods go, I arrived at the park rather skeptical. The stuff served at the former Marlins ballpark was awful, even relative to ballpark chow. But that was a different concession company. Jim Abbey, regional executive chef for Levy, set the bar high when asked if the offerings would be on par with the improved menus at ballparks around the nation.
"This is the newest and the greatest. There is nothing out there that compares to this. Nothing."
He went on to mention how meats and produce are coming from Niman Ranch, Harris Ranch, and local farms such as Teena's Pride; how seafood is being caught by fishermen off the Florida coast; and how everything will be prepared fresh.
Timothy Hmay, Marlins Park executive chef, explained that what they're attempting here has never been done. "These aren't concessions stands; they're mini-restaurants. Every single one of our 45 concession stands has a restaurant kitchen in back of them. Everything is prepared fresh. So a burger, when the order comes in, is freshly grilled and put into the bun for the customer. It's not put in a box and held for hours."
When the other journalists exited to the left, I ducked to the right and into the stadium, checking out the vantage point from behind home plate, from each of the dugouts, and then took a stroll into both clubhouses (the Marlins' is a lot nicer). So there are a few nonfood-related photos of the ballpark and clubhouse interspersed with the rest:
That bun is a potato bun and baked by Sedano's Bakery. The burger is culled from brisket, short rib, and chuck. The meat is never given any form of hormones or antibiotics. The price: $8.50 for a single cheeseburger, $9.50 for a double. It comes with American cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, "vine ripe tomato," and pickle. Yes, that's pricey, but I would rather pay $9.50 for a delicious double cheeseburger (and it was) than $7 or $8 for the crappy one they used to serve at the old place. I'll save the rest of my commentary for an upcoming review of the ballpark food. For now, I'll let the photos do the talking.