Cold comfort: Amsoil Arena’s new foods include sturdy, down-home dishes
The novelty pick for this year's new concession foods at Amsoil Arena looks like it was inspired by Bridgeman's, but tastes like a Sunday dinner.
Or rather, sundae dinner.
It's a heap of mashed potatoes with pot roast, gravy and corn, topped with a cherry pepper. The pot roast sundae is, of course, served in a dessert bowl.
The very down-home dish is on brand with the other five foods added to the menu this year, available during events at Amsoil Arena. Think medium-rare meats, gooey cheeses, beer-battered fish. Seemingly the theme: Comfort foods.
In past years, Amsoil-goers have seemed to descend on the arena's Enger Tower Grill, where the chicken tenders have flown fast. The new foods will be spread around to the handful of concession stands in the concourse to even out the lines, according to Duluth Entertainment Convention Center executive director Chelly Townsend.
"We hope we still sell out the chicken tenders," she added.
(The standard arena fare — hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, pizza — are still available.)
TOP PICK: NEW PIZZA RECIPE
• Bayfront Pizza Stand, $6
This is not your standard arena 'za. The crust is thin, the sauce is green, the meat is — wait. There is no meat. This veg-friendly pick has a foldable crust and a pesto base — the basil is straight out of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center's rooftop garden — and the toppings include kalamata olives, fresh mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes.
This rich, flavorful pizza is a controversial one. It's seemingly for the kind of person who can never find a friend to go halfsies on a pie. Be that guy.
FRIDAY FISH FRY
• Enger Tower Grill, $8
There has been a call for fish from fans, according to Townsend. "Especially during Lent," she said, but: "Why not have it year-round?" The basic, beer-battered cod is served with creamy tartar sauce, lemon and thin, crispy French fries that might be among the arena's secret, yet-unheralded strengths.
TOP PICK: POT ROAST SUNDAE
• South Shore Cove, $8
For the meat-and-potatoes crowd: The roast is tender, the potatoes are creamy, the sprinkle of corn is mostly decorative, the cherry pepper is sweet. In a season where both the University of Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey teams have young rosters, the pot roast sundae is a hug-in-a-bowl — there to embrace fans who need it. This might be the novelty pick, but it stands on its own.
TOP PICK: CARVED NEW YORK STRIP SANDWICH
• South Shore Cove, $9
This sandwich is served on schiacciata bread, which has the chewiness of ciabatta and the garlic-herb seasoning of foccacia. It's the right level of absorbency for juice from the super tender, medium-rare steak, which is carved order-by-order. It also has the option of a slice of provolone cheese, horseradish, raw red onion slices, pickles.
It's the top pick from this year's new concession foods. Don't be surprised to find yourself cruising the DECC box office for tickets to Little Big Town — less for the country tunes, more for the concession potential.
MAC AND CHEESE
• Park Point Grill and North Shore Landing, $5.50
Kraft, what. This upgrade on the traditional dish has cavatappi noodles and the cheese is a blend of smoked gouda, cheddar and Velveeta. It's topped with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan.
TOP PICK: GRILLED CHEESE AND TOMATO BASIL DIPPER
• Wisconsin Point Grill, $5.50
Straight off your mom's Corelle butterfly gold plate: a gooey American cheese sandwich on thick, crispy Texas toast. It's served with a small cup of Grandma's Restaurant's brand of thick, creamy soup — complete with chunks of tomato. Best served on a rainy day.