Tennis fans, by and large, are known to be a high-maintenance bunch. That means a crowd shelling out big bucks to see world class action at the U.S. Open expects a worthy culinary scene.
And they'll get it, too. Hungry spectators will find everything from a shrimp and arugula pizzette to a hot pastrami sandwich to a chilled seafood "plateau" at the five restaurants and 60 concession stands on the grounds.
On the more accessible end is the Food Village, which executive chef Michael Lockard for Levy Restaurants describes as serving "the kind of food I'd crave after work - cheesesteaks, pizza, pasta," as well as burgers and sushi. On the other end of the spectrum is the elegant sit-down Club Level restaurant Aces, a venue frequented by the VIP set. This year, the push is toward going green using local, sustainable produce and products that are environmentally friendly. When feeding about 700,000 people over a 20-day period, that amounts to an ambitious serve.
It's hard to do better than a big, fat, peppery hot-pastrami sandwich from New York City's Carnegie Deli. A chicken kati roll from the New Delhi Spice concession packs a continent of exotic flavor into the equivalent of an Indian burrito. From the Sweet & Savory Crepes stand, a lacy pancake stuffed with beef, mushrooms, spinach and Gruyère is both delicate and hearty.
At the full-service Patio Café in Arthur Ashe Stadium, a chopped shrimp and lobster salad comes off as cool and light, the prime rib sandwich as meltingly satisfying.
Mojito Restaurant & Bar, a Nuevo Latino hot spot at the stadium, serves a lobster quesadilla and tortilla-crusted salmon worthy of a samba.
Finish at Louis Armstrong Stadium, where Blue Marble Organic Ice Cream offers a product so creamy and clean-tasting, Ben & Jerry has reason to shiver.
At the Food Village, once was enough for me at Sushi Sushi, whose over-chilled spicy tuna roll should be renamed the icy tuna roll. Nor will I be back for a burger from the Village's hamburger and hot dog stand. I ordered mine rare; the charred patty was not only incinerated but hyper-salty.
And the dry, boring turkey burger at Patio Café was - well, a turkey.
While many of the concessions and restaurants will be familiar to those who attended last year, there are some new venues and menu items:
Wine Bar Food, the tapas restaurant of chef Tony Mantuano (of Spiaggia in Chicago) will add a second location to its existing Food Village venue when it opens in the Club Level of Arthur Ashe stadium. New menu items at both sites include tuna tartare with rice beans and capers as well as raisin gelato with Pedro Ximinez sherry.
At Aces Restaurant (Club Level in Arthur Ashe Stadium), new dishes include a Long Island lobster roll with summer slaw as well as seared sea scallops with arugula and grapefruit salad; a drink called the Ty-Breaker is made with Ty Ku liqueur, Cointreau, mint leaves and lime.
At Mojito Restaurant and Bar (Arthur Ashe Stadium, ground floor), new items include a piña colada cake, Cuban Caesar salad and an array of cocktails including the Unseeded Player (Cachaça, tomato and watermelon juices).
(2009 pricing vs. 2008 pricing)
Hot dog: $4.50 vs. $4.50 last year
Burger: $8 vs. $8 last year
Pizza: $8.50 vs. $8.50 last year
Waffle fries: $4.50 vs. $4.25 last year
Fountain soda: $4 vs. $3.75 last year
Evian water, regular size: $3.75 vs. $3.75 last year
Large Evian: $5 vs. $4.75 last year
GREEN AT THE OPEN
Local sourcing: This year, more than 10 percent of produce used comes from local and regional farms on Long Island (Satur Farms of Cutchogue), upstate and New Jersey. Fish and shellfish from Long Island and New England will be incorporated into several menus. Also, artisanal cheeses, biodynamic wines and organic ice cream will be offered at various locations.
Servicewear: Much of the food serviceware will be made from recyclable, biodegradable or compostable materials. That includes cups, straws and swizzle sticks, napkins, knives, forks, spoons, plates and bowls. Other than recycling bins, nobody has figured out what to do about all those plastic water bottles, a must for fans who want to stay cool and hydrated.
Kitchen waste: This year, waste from the two main kitchens will be picked up for composting. Cooking oil will also be recycled.