By Alex Van Buren with reporting by Sarah De Heer
Elaborate eats -- despite the recession -- continue to make cameos nationwide, often in the strangest of places.
At Citi Field, Gotham's new Mets stadium, culinary stars Danny Meyer (Blue Smoke; Eleven Madison; Tabla), Dave Pasternack (Esca) and Drew Nieporent (Nobu; Tribeca Grill) will hawk their wares alongside the hot-dog vendors and pint-pourers.
It's quite a change from the scene at that beloved old warhorse, Shea Stadium, and an unusual step for what one 24-year-old lifelong fan calls "the blue-collar team in a city where the Yankees are kings." Is he looking forward to it? "Well, my dad is all in a huff -- 'Whatever happened to peanuts and crackerjacks?' -- but uh, I think it's gonna be cool."
The famously tasty Shake Shack burger has that effect on city denizens. Slashfood dropped by a press event to sample it and the rest of the grub.
Get a first taste and see photos after the jump.
Pasternack, Meyer, and Nieporent were all on the premises, sporting vanity Mets jerseys. Pasternack -- a lifelong Mets fan with a pronounced accent -- looked perhaps the most comfortable in his.
We bumped into Serious Eats founder and New York Times writer Ed Levine, who called Pasternack's Long Island clam and corn chowder with lardons "amazing," "awesome" and "really good." Though we should note that Levine wrote a book with Pasternack, it was indeed all of those things, with a memorable creamy sweetness.
Citi Field(click thumbnails to view gallery)
For $4.25, if that quality can hold up when offered on a larger scale, it could be a ballpark bargain.
The Shackburger? It'll only be $5.75 -- a dollar more than usual -- and was pretty darn good, though Meyer's fries left us a little cold.
Things are not all burgers-and-chowder, though: Nieporent's Acela Club will feature a savory porchetta dish with stewed cabbage and a great mac 'n cheese with pancetta that we could chomp while watching a game without feeling a shred of bourgeois guilt.
Click through the attached slideshow to see how this will all play out in person and where the more than a dozen dining venues will be located -- from the upscale and exclusive (Acela Club boasts a VIP entrance) to the down-and-dirty (Nathan's dogs, anyone?).
The best part of the day? Threats of a potential French fry-off between Meyer and Pasternack. The latter claimed his "Bayside fries" with smoked sea salt, Old Bay seasoning and a side of sharp cheddar cheese (not on offer during our visit) would knock the socks off of Meyer's.
Asked to comment about the brewing battle, Pasternack -- a Mets man to the core -- declared, "Danny's got a lot people, but I got a lot of tenacity."
1986 was the last year the Mets won the World Series. We have a feeling fans can relate.