This feature is a co-production of Oklahoma Today magazine and I Ate Oklahoma.
The crack of the bat! The smell of the grass! Parking lots! Those are some of the things people people associate with baseball, which seems weird. Don’t smell that grass; you have allergies!
When I’m thinking about baseball (or anything, frankly), I’m thinking about food. Big hot dogs covered in mustard and relish. Comically large beers. Ballpark nachos.
But if you haven’t been to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (aka The Brick) in a minute, you might not know the Dodgers’ culinary staff is working overtime on some real crazy dishes. You can absolutely still get the all the regular stuff: peanuts, popcorn, pickles, Dippin’ Dots ice cream, et al. But they’ve also expanded from hot dogs to burgers and pizza, and that’s before we start talking about foods only available at the Club Level and up.
With the new season upon us, the fine folks at The Brick invited me and a few others to try their newest menu items. One thing is clear: the Dodgers know the real strike zone is kids’ palates, and the new dishes prove that out.
Mac and Cheese Pizza
This likely isn’t the first time you’ve heard of a macaroni and cheese pizza, nor will it be the last. But this starchy behemoth really embraces the youthful audience with the addition of all-beef hot dog slices.
Weirdly, the pizza sauce under the mac and cheese and hot dog slices really drives this dish. And while tomatoes are an ingredient in some classic mac and cheese preparations, I felt like it overpowered the cheese and even the hot dog spicing. It was good, and I’m certain young fans will be all over it, but I don’t think this has the legs to be an all-time classic.
Welcome to Gouda Burger, home of the Gouda Burger, can I take your order? C’mon, man. You can’t just hang one like this over the center of the plate and expect me not to swing.
Gouda is both one of my favorite cheeses and one of my most-feared cheeses, because when it melts, it can get very gluey. So big props to the team at The Brick for not just understanding the dish in front of them but really troubleshooting it until it works.
Early versions of this bacon, cheese and bourbon-sauteed-onion burger had three slices of gouda on it, according to executive chef Will Fenwick, but it was too much. Too overpowering. So they adjusted to two slices. Finally one slightly thicker slice was chosen and it’s the perfect balance of flavor and texture. It’s just thick enough to hold onto the burger (a really nice, thick patty) without fully melting and get goopy. The bacon is crispy and the onions are so good they ought to be on just about everything else they serve.
Remember that Saturday Night Live ad for “Taco Town”? The Brick’s new Taco Dog feels like it was stolen from the middle of that nesting doll of a meal. Outside: Flour tortilla, then a smear of refried beans and a crunchy corn shell inside that. Pico de gallo. Sour cream. Taco meat. Cheese. A hot dog. Sure, they aren’t wrapping it in a blueberry crepe and tossing it in a commemorative tote full of vegetarian chili, but it’s still a lot to fit in your mouth.
That said, I think what it really needs is hot sauce and it’ll be ready to blow some young minds at the ballpark.
Those three will stay on the menu all season, but Fenwick is also planning some great limited-time dishes and the ones available in April were some of my favorites.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Burger
Take that thick-thick beef patty from the Gouda Burger, but slather on crunchy peanut butter, a dollop of strawberry jelly and a couple of pieces of crispy bacon and what do you have? Nothing. It’s already gone, because I ate it. You shouldn’t have wasted time trying to solve my riddle while I went hog wild on that burger. Rookie move.
It’s sweet and crunchy and earthy and fruity and beefy and bacon-y and lovely, from tip to tail. This weird burger will make you a believer, too. But you better get to it before it’s gonna be May.
Southern Comfort Dog
No, this does not have those bourbon-sauteed onions, I’m sad to report. Instead, this all-beef hot dog is piled high with comfortable southern classics: pulled pork, baked beans, crunchy slaw and a fresh dill pickle spear. This is messy, to be sure, but it’s also one of the best-balanced dogs I’ve eaten in a while. Hot dog spicing can be very assertive, but the lightness of the slaw and the tart pop of the pickle keep it from overpowering the rest of the ingredients. Especially during an unseasonably warm spring scorcher, this is the dog you want alongside that massive collector’s cup full of COOP beer while watching our OKC Dodgers crack bats, sniff grass and park...that ball over the right field fence.
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