The Royals continue to allow the young talent in their farm system to simmer while we begin another summer of patience at The K. So how do you market a team in waiting to a starving fan base? With food! Glorious food! Mountains and gobs of heart-tugging grub. Have you ever people watched at The K? A large number of these fans are not there solely for a crack at a foul ball.
Toby Cook, the Royals VP of Public Relations, invited the media on Tuesday to view Kauffman Stadium’s new .390 Bar & Grill and some of the eclectic fare that will be served in this more upscale lounge. Here are my notes from the event.
Toby Cook: The Royals have botched a number of draft choices over the years but one that they got right was when they plucked Toby Cook off a Fox 4 news anchor desk five years ago. Cook always impresses me with his professionalism. Cook is an engaging speaker, a helpful host and the perfect guy for what the Royals need him to do – be a great representative to the media of their organization. I’m sure Cook wears Wrangler’s and cusses now and then but the guy always looks and sounds like he just came off of a Boston Legal set. And he manages all this without appearing to be plastic. If all sports organizations had people like Cook working with the media, there would be far fewer grumps toting cameras and laptops.
Road Construction At I-70 East/Blue Ridge Cutoff Exit: When I asked Cook how much of a mess he expected on Opening Day from this road construction he frankly said, “A lot.” MODOT will announce today (Wednesday) that they will have two lanes open starting at 3:00 PM on March 30th. These will be narrow construction lanes though so expect a hassle. Cook urges everyone to find another way into The K. The good news it will only affect those traveling east on I-70 who choose to take the BRC exit. And there will be a ton of these doofuses. Don’t be a doofus, take another way into the Truman Sports Complex. It amazes me how many Kansas Citians have no idea how to find alternate routes to their favorite destinations. There are as many ways into The K and Arrowhead as there are into Iowa. Pick one and go around the bottleneck – not through it.
.390 Bar & Grill: We all know or have seen the old glass-enclosed Stadium Club along the left-field foul line. I think I was in there once to have a pregame lunch with Denny and Fred but I always get lost up there on the 5th floor. I’m pretty sure it was the Stadium Club because I was chastised by the management for wearing shorts into the private club. Well the Stadium Club has been renovated and renamed the .390 Bar & Grill. It is no longer private and I am pretty sure shorts are now allowed – as are halter tops – for the ladies. The place is upscale and looks great with that gorgeous if silent view of my favorite baseball stadium in the world. The name is yet another attempt by the Royals to bleed another vial of blood from the memory of King George and his famous .run at .400 in 1980. There are more mentions and memories of Brett at The K than there are snow cones. I sure as hell hope we are not dedicating the Pine Tar Dining Club 40 years from now. Maybe Moose Mountain?
The Food: Fancy. Very fancy. And expensive. Matt Fulks, author of Denny Matthews’ book, Hi, Anybody, bit down on a Black & Bleu Slider and announced, “This is the last time I’ll be eating any of this food this season.” But today the food was plentiful and free for the media types and we ate like we were at Clem’s Drive In down the street. Here are my critiques of what I sampled.
Black & Bleu Sliders: Angus mini burgers with crisp shallots and bleu cheese. The best part of the sliders are the fresh buns made here in Kansas City by Roma Bakery. They tasted like little bacon cheese burgers – which I guess is a victory because that’s what they are. Hit Big Boy Burgers on 40 Highway on the way if you’re dying for some good burger grease.
Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers: This item was one of my favorites. Not too hot, stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon with a side of chipotle sauce. I finished mine in two bites only because I was eating in public. I’d pay real money for these babies.
5 Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna: When they start throwing rare fish onto the ball yard’s menu, you have to check to make sure Chien-Ming Wang isn’t serving sliders from the mound. Being the sophisticated Northlander that I am, I dig purple tuna – and this stuff was excellent! I wouldn’t be hauling a plate of this back to the right-field bleachers but in the spiffy confines of the .390 B&G it will be a big hit.
Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes: These mini crab cakes were topped with a mango citrus slaw that got in the way of the crab. Once I knocked the fruity slaw off the cakes and submerged a mouthful into the orangish creole sauce, I was whistling Dixie and talking like Grigsby doing a Jaazzzzzz commercial.
.390 Signature Sandwich: A herb panko (didn’t he pitch for the Chisox?) KC strip steak topped with a hearty oversized onion ring on a sourdough bun. Since this was a media event, the Royals weren’t handed out free steaks. I can say this sandwich looked good.
Royal Bacon Bleu Fries: Killer! Absolutely freakin’ KILLER! If you haven’t noticed, almost every item served this day has a hunk of bacon wrapped or slapped alongside the entre. Adding bacon, one of our creator’s most precious gifts, to fries is like when the Reese’s people came up with mashing peanut butter and chocolate into a mouth-sized morsel. These fires were insanely tasty. I checked with the soos chef – no shit – Mikell Blocker, and asked about the meaty fries. “They are called skin-on 3/8 stealth cut,” he deftly rattled off. When I asked Mikell about the liberal use of bacon throughout the menu he smiled broadly. “Everybody loves bacon!” Let me tell you, you are gonna love these suckers.
Buffalo Ranch Fries: Is there a job where you get to name food items? I’d love to get that gig when I retire. These fries were too hot for this gringo. For those stricken with that odd need to put things so spicy hot into your gullet that your underwear sweats, these would be a nice appetizer…or foreplay.
GregHall24@yahoo.com and Twitter / greghall24