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My Not-So-Expert Opinion on the New Food at MAPFRE Stadium

Crew SC fans are in for a treat this year at home games. Come hungry, leave happy, even if the team loses.

I'm not food critic and I certainly never will be, but I do love to eat and know when something tastes good.

At Columbus Crew SC Media Day, the Black and Gold brought out their new food and drink partner, Levy Restaurants to feed the hungry media members in attendance. As I didn't eat breakfast in anticipation, and we didn't eat until well after my normal lunchtime, I went to town on the four food stands present.

Along with not being a food critic, I'm also not a food expert. When people cook me things, I often don't know what I'm eating, but again, I know if it's good or not. If you're looking for expert analysis of what was given to the media, you'll have to go elsewhere.

The first dish I sampled was a ramen noodle bowl. I added some kind of beef and shrimp and, at the recommendation of the chef on hand, applied a vegetarian sauce to my food.

I've never been a big fan of ramen. Even in college when I was buying cheap, terrible food (not much has changed since college), I still usually refrained from ramen unless I was at a friend's house and that's what they had available.

This was not like the ramen people bought in college. The combination of properly cooked ramen noodles - ones not straight out of the microwave - with the meat and the sauce was exquisite, at least for stadium food.

If you don't sit in the Nordecke at MAPFRE Stadium, and therefore you actually sit during Crew SC games, I recommend trying the ramen, wherever they place it around the concourse.

After eating most of that, I didn't want to get too full on one item, I tried Hot Chicken Takeover.

There are two things you probably need to know about me. First, I don't do spicy foods. The chef at the station tried to talk me into the middle-tier chicken and he was unsuccessful. Second, I'd never had Hot Chicken Takeover before.

What essentially amounted to fried chicken came on a small piece of what I would describe as Texas Toast (not sure that's correct lingo) with a skewer through it and two pickles on the end. I'm not a pickle person, so I removed that, but ate the rest and it was rather good. There was a ranch-based sauce to dip it in and that was always rather tasty. It wasn't quite Raising Canes, but that might be comparing apples to oranges.

Along with the chicken was a banana pudding with what tasted like a cookie crumble (maybe Vanilla Wafers) and whip cream on top. That all mixed together may have been one of the greatest things I've ever tasted. I almost went up to the station and asked if I could take the rest home (I didn't. Even I have some standards).

A fellow member of the media told me I needed to try the sirloin from another station. I told the chef working there just that and he served me right up, suggesting a sauce and such to put on it (apparently I was too late to get the candy bacon). He also gave me some sweet potato fries. All was very good!

I was getting pretty full at this point, but there was no way I wasn't finishing it. Despite Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter sitting down at the podium, preparing to talk, I sat at my table and finished my delicious food. I've had the luxury of hearing Gregg talk pretty much every day during the season for the last few years. I figured he could wait until I was done with my meal.

Thanks to Berhalter's interruption, I did not get a chance to try Schmidt's Sausage. I've had their food before and highly recommend it. They now have a dish called, forgive my spelling, Hej-Dog, designed by former Crew SC legend Frankie Hejduk. They also have a sausage dish called Columbus 'Til I Die, which the chef assured everyone there would be the hit.

After talking with Berhalter, and club captain and vice-captain Michael Parkhurst and Wil Trapp, I made my way over to the dessert table. Some of the options were already gone, but there were still plenty of brownies available.

If you've never been in the Crew SC press box, and I'm guessing many of you reading this have not, they have some really great food, but the brownies and cookies are the best. Obviously, this is a new food distributor, so I had to make sure they were still up to par.


I took four.

The only thing that could have been better is if we could have paired the food with the beer selection they will have at the games. As I'm now a working man at Crew SC games, I will have to find out from fans how good this all is with an adult beverage.

The long and the short of it is, the food this year at MAPFRE Stadium is going to knock your socks off. I don't know how these items will be priced, but I recommend paying for them, at least once, because they are delicious.

Again, I'm no expert, just a guy who writes about soccer and likes to eat, but today those two worlds came together.

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