I was very surprised when the Reds invited me to their press event to debut their new dining selections at the ball park. For the past few years, The Better Half and I have been kind of (okay, very) critical of their selections, particularly when compared to other ballparks in small market cities. Last year, they raised the bar a bit– the Smokehouse, hand-patted hamburgers– and they raised the bar even more this year. I’m glad they listened to me, and other fans (and we are big Reds fans) who want an experience when they go to the ballpark. In speaking with Michael Anderson, PR Manager with the Reds, he said that the Castellinis (the majority owners of the Reds) realize that the experience is what brings people to the ballpark. ”A kid at his first baseball game doesn’t remember who won, but they remember the hot dog that they ate, or meeting Mr. Redlegs.” It’s very true, and I’m glad they’re matching the food with their philosophy.
They’ve added a few new stations to the ballpark, including a Food Network station that will serve hot dogs inspired by the Food Network (they started that partnership last year). You can get bacon sloppy joes, a signature hot dog with corn chips, baked beans, and mustard and what they’re calling a Cincinnati Dog, which is topped with pork rinds and barbecue sauce. They’re using a really quality hot dog here– not the typical Kahn’s– which elevates the experience. Of course, you can still get all of those traditional treats as well– not just the dolled-up dogs– and the Smokehouse will be available this season as well.
They’ve also redone the menu for the Machine Room in a Gastropub style with a baseball touch. I really enjoyed the grilled turkey sandwich with balsamic apple butter, arugula, brie and sourdough– it’s a sandwich I’d be happy to eat at any restaurant. The Thai Wings with sriracha were sticky, sweet and a little spicy. I also adored the Banh Miener– a hot dog with cilantro, carrot slaw, cucumber, sriracha and red onion– a hot dog version of a Banh Mi. For dessert, they’ve added freshly fried donuts with caramel sauce which were ridiculously addictive. I’ve never actually visited the Machine Room, but I hear they have a brunch I need to try, too. I’ll definitely add it to my list this season.
Check out the slideshow for some pictures of other items featured during the preview.
So what are you doing for Opening Day? I’m going to head to the Lagerhouse after the parade and hang out there. Maybe– just maybe– I’ll score a ticket. What are your Opening Day traditions? Share them here.