On Tuesday, August 11th, I visited the *new* Yankee Stadium for the first time. Well, that’s not exactly true. What I did do was visit the Hard Rock Café at Yankee Stadium. That being said, while technically within the stadium, you do not need to go through any kind of security gate to enter the restaurant, as the entrance is on the street at River Avenue and 161 Street.
Before I continue, I must first make a confession:
A little of five years ago, I moved out of the South Bronx, just blocks to the east of Yankee Stadium. I was there during the duration of the demolition of the original stadium, which was bittersweet to both fans and residents. However, I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a baseball fan and haven’t been to a game there since high school (I’ll plead the 5th on what year that was.) It was unclear if and when I’d ever set foot in the new stadium.
I arrived at about 6:15 in the afternoon, which turned out to be a very humid, muggy day in the PM due to the morning rain. I was pleasantly surprised to be hit with cool air and immediately seated by staff. I work just a short walk south of the stadium, so I’m constantly in the neighborhood. Game days mean traffic, crowded public transportation (even more so than usual), and noise. Lots of whistling, chanting, and sports fans doing what they do. I usually avoid the vicinity at that time. In the early evening and not a game day, so understandably the restaurant was not crowded.
There is a decent sized workforce in the immediate area given that our borough hall, courts, and Office of Tourism are all located here. In passing friends of mine who have worked in the courts have always griped about the lack of quality food in the area. Perhaps for the aforementioned reasons or because Hard Rock Café is so heavily embedded into the tourist infrastructure of almost every major city worldwide, it somehow never occurred to me to try it out. Upon being seated and handed a menu, one major misconception I had was immediately dispelled: that prices here were going to be high given the restaurant is geared towards tourists. The prices were surprisingly moderate for the venue, not much different than your local Applebee’s or Chilli’s.
The drink menu was pretty extensive, with Goose Island IPA on special this month, as well as a line of summer-influenced cocktails. I can get a beer at the local grocery, so I decided I’d try out the cocktail menu. I first ordered the Summer Splash Daiquiri, which is pretty much a fruity smoothie with a lemon-y taste, courtesy of the Bacardi Limón rum. I was quite hungry, so I slurped it down rather quickly. I next sampled the Island Mai Tai, which contained a liquor not often thought of when discussing summery adult beverages: whiskey. I must admit, it gave the drink another layer to it and enhanced it. For all you non-drinkers, no worries: there’s the Berry Blues, an alcohol-free cooler.
Shortly after, we ordered appetizers: the sampler to share. Not being able to decide what degree of spiciness we wanted the wings, the helpful waitress gave us the sauces on the side. I preferred the spiciest sauce myself. After, I gravitated toward a loaded potato skin with various cheeses and veggies on top. The main object of this visit was to test out the Goose Island IPA Tropical Burger, August’s special of the month, which I ordered medium, though it would appear the one I received was medium-well, though this could be because everyone else ordered it that way. I would have preferred mine juicier. The fries were good, but the main attraction was that the burger was adorned with cheese, a pineapple, and various other fruits; very filling.
Dessert? I was so full by then that I couldn’t take another bit of anything. Nicole aka “BronxMama,” ordered the ice cream sundae, which the menu claimed could be “shared,” which is vague. Oh, no. This sucker could easily feed a family of 4. BronxPR (aka Joyce) and Shoemom ordered the molten lava cake, which if I’d had any more space in my stomach, would have gladly eaten.
The space here is large in a round room surrounded by multiple TV screens blasting music videos (even in the ladies room!) The wall was complete with John Lennon’s sunglasses and Billy Joel’s wardrobe, and Ace Frehley‘s guitar. More: I’m no KISS fan, but Ace is a Bedford Park guy who lived on the same corner I did! Would I go back? Sure. This looks like it’d be a fun place for a first date, a family afternoon out, or for professionals in the area to grab drinks after work.