Last night marked my first visit to Safeco Field, where Seattle’s Mariners play professional baseball. I’m not a huge fan, but my friend and fellow blogger Meryl Pearlstein and her son are on a mission to see games in every stadium across the country. They scored a free ticket for me.
Apparently the Mariners don’t have too much of a reputation. I was honestly more excited about something at Safeco field that does win national props: the food. I had read in several places that the stadium had received high marks for the variety and quality of the concessions, so I planned on eating dinner there.
I had to laugh, though, when I saw some of the offerings. On a recent Top Chef, Tom Colicchio and others dinged cheftestant Angelo for putting his pork sandwich on a hot dog bun because the doughy bread soaked up all the juices. At the time, my husband and I debated if any other meat besides a hot dog would work on a bun. My question was answered last night. Behold: the Ivar dog.
From this picture, the Ivar dog might look like a simple fish sandwich. What you aren’t seeing is the pile of cole slaw underneath the fish. The wet slaw melds into the bun, so you get a nice tasty bite (although get lots of napkins, as it’s pretty drippy).
In that same episode, guest chef judge Rick Moonen wondered if raw fish belonged at a ballpark. Well, in Seattle where Asian is the dominant ethnic cuisine, it’s a no-brainer. There’s even a sushi roll named for player Ichiro (although I couldn’t bring myself to try it…I’m with Rick, I’m not sure sushi will ever become my go-to stadium food).
Where else do you see ballpark patrons regularly wielding chopsticks? The stadium also has typical Seattle touches, such as composting cans, several vegetarian booths (hummus gyro, anyone?) and lots of craft beer for sale. There’s even a wine bar (why do I not see this going over in Philly?)
I meant to try the stadium’s famous garlic fries, but after seeing a plate of french fries laden with bits of raw garlic, I just couldn’t hack it. The stadium reeked of garlic already and the thought of contributing to the stench was just too much.
Garlic fry stench aside, Safeco Field seemed very family friendly. While there were pockets of excited fans, most seemed to be more on the Pacific Northwest laid-back side (as opposed to the aggressive, in-your-face Phillies fans that I’ve been around lately). I liked the get-to-know-the-players fun facts that appeared on the scoreboard when each person came to bat.
The open bullpen was also a treat. You can go down to the first level and watch the players through a fence as they warm up and sit in the dugout. Meryl told me that she’d never been to another ballpark where you could get so close to the players. I’m sure that visiting teams hate it – the players for the Angels were taking a verbal drubbing from some smartass fans – but it certainly makes professional athletes seem more accessible (although there’s a little bit of an “animal in a zoo” effect).
All in all, going to a Mariners game is a worthwhile experience, even if you don’t care so much about the team. Now all they have to do is win.
Would you eat sushi at a ballpark? Or are you a traditionalist? Tell me in the comments.