A special plate at the new stadium

May 29, 1991|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Evening Sun Staff

Everyone knows that baseball and hot dogs go together, but what about baseball and grilled swordfish with fresh vegetable salsa, saffron potatoes and cilantro butter?

Or how about watching nine innings as you dine on roast beef tenderloin with vegetable turnovers and natural Cabernet sauvignon glace, or a plate of fresh mozzarella with Italian herb pesto, ripe tomatoes and roasted sweet peppers?

Welcome to the gourmet restaurant in the ballpark at Camden Yards.

Starting next April, the baseball stadium designed to recall an era of old-fashioned innocence will offer a menu that is modern nouvelle cuisine.

Of course, there will be hot dogs, pizza, nachos, grilled hamburgers and deli sandwiches from the concessions and vendors.

But on the mezzanine level of the stadium and in the penthouse floors of the adjoining B&O warehouse, diners will find menus befitting the finest restaurants in town.

Before each home game, a gourmet buffet will be offered to all fans on the stadium's club level, or mezzanine, where the luxury sky boxes and exclusive club seating will be. Each of the 72 sky boxes also will have gourmet menu selections.

Nearby, in a private "stadium club" on floors seven and eight of the warehouse, members who pay the $45 monthly dues can order from an upscale menu and enjoy veal, beef and fresh vegetable dishes while watching the game through picture windows.

On the ground level of the warehouse, pub-type food will be served in a sports bar atmosphere.

The delicacies also will be offered on a catering menu available to anyone who rents one of 12 party suites in the stadium and warehouse. Prices will start at $6 a person, said Howard B. Urick, special projects manager for ARA Services, the stadium's concessionaire.

"Everything is going to be geared at making the stadium food as upscale as the stadium proper," Urick said. "It will be less traditional than what you've seen in the past.

"Some people will be very appreciative, but some people will think it's a tad pretentious to have veal medallions with sauces at the ballpark. We'll make sure that we have items that are appreciated by both ends of the spectrum."

Urick recently hired 24-year-old executive chef Russell Szekely to plan the gourmet ballpark menus that will range from trendy "American nouvelle" to Southwestern specialties.

Szekely immediately whipped up beef tenderloin recipes with various French sauces, fresh fruit and vegetable salads, variations on traditional Maryland crab recipes and unique condiments to top off each dish.

Foods will be prepared in a state-of-the-art kitchen on the fourth floor of the warehouse and transported around the stadium complex for "presentation," or perfecting the look.

Szekely will oversee a staff of 12 chefs and 100 kitchen employees. He will command a food-preparation routine that will rival a cruise ship's kitchen -- constant cooking, baking and freezing of meats, vegetables and desserts that are vacuum-packed and reheated when needed.

Despite all this planning for gourmet delights, Urick admits that Oriole owner Eli Jacobs prefers the simple approach to ballpark grub.

"When he's hungry, he eats a natural casing kosher hot dog," Urick said, although hot dogs are delivered on china to the owner's box.

The 29 concession stands will offer hot dogs, pizza, ice cream, popcorn and grilled specialties from longer, more convenient counters. There also will be three delis on the upper and lower levels.

Prices have not been set for any of the items, Urick said.

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