Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bison Dining at the Friendly Confines

I have been a partial season ticket holder to the Chicago Cubs going on 10 years now and, I can say with utmost certainty, that although Wrigley Field is a magical place to watch a baseball game and experience the grander moments in one's life (Mrs. Hackknife and I had our first date there, for example), the food there basically sucks lemons. With few exceptions (only the kosher hot dogs with grilled onions available at a couple of obscure stands on the main concourse immediately come to mind), I can go across town to a rival American League team's field that shall remain nameless and find a much wider and better array of ballpark dining options. With the recent sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts family, however, I must admit that the dining gap has narrowed ever-so-slightly. Case in point: bison meat.

Among other businesses, the Ricketts family owns a company called High Plains Bison, offering ranch-raised bison in many forms. As one might have guessed, the 2010 season arrived with a new offering of High Plains Bison menu items at many of the park's concession stands (I can imagine the Rickettses sitting around the table sometime in 2009 going "Why should we buy the Cubs? Because of their proud winning tradition? Why, no, but we'd have someplace to shill all that damn bison!"). To the best of my knowledge, the bison hot dogs are the HPB product most widely available throughout Wrigley Field (and I've heard rumors that they do, in fact, taste like hot dogs), but if one were to search a little deeper, one could find more interesting bison fare. I discovered a month or so back that, if you go into the Sheffield Grill (formerly a private dining room for season ticket holders, but now open to the public before and during games) located in the right field corner of the park, you'll find a bison-entree-of-the-week available for purchase.

The first time I went in there, they were offering a bison meatloaf sandwich with grilled onions/chipotle bbq sauce, chips, and a pickle for $9.25 - a little pricey, but worth it to try. It took about 15 minutes for my order to come up (there was a head chef, sous chef, and about 4 assistants all crammed into a little space feverishly trying to cook and serve), but when it finally did, it was worth the wait. The sandwich was LARGE and very satisfying, pretty much the best thing I've ever had at Wrigley. The chips and pickle were ok, providing a nice, if simple, accompaniment. After that experience, I made a mental note to go down there for dinner again once I had the chance. The second time, there was a bison pastrami sandwich on the menu, served with a horseradish mayo and chips/pickle again (also for $9.25). This one was good (not as good as the meatloaf, though), but probably not a repeat.

Now that the 2010 season is over for me (two games left on our schedule, but we'll be missing both of them for....future blog entry alert.....our upcoming trip to London), I'll have to wait until Spring to see what bison entrees are popping up next at the Friendly Confines.

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