Nashville Post sports editor David Boclair and I went over to LP Field yesterday as the Titans publicly rolled out a new catering vendor, Aramark, and several menu items for the upcoming season, all in response to feedback from season ticket holders.
“They’ve said they need to see and they want to see an improvement in the quality of the food service that we provide here at LP Field,” executive vice president Don MacLachlan said. “We’re confident that on every level of LP Field — on the lower level, the club level and also in the upper deck — we wanted to make sure that every level was taken care of in the same way.
“… Quality is something that fans will notice a dramatic difference in. It’s something that was at the top of our list when we got together with Aramark. Quality and variety on all levels of LP Field is critical.”
Under the direction of new CEO Tommy Smith, the franchise signed a 10-year agreement with Aramark to oversee concessions and hospitality at the stadium. Aramark, based in Philadelphia, does the same in 14 other NFL stadiums.
Initial enhancements include an updated menu that features signature burgers and dishes that the company believes fit with Nashville’s culinary profile. Traditional stadium foods such as hot dogs, nachos, etc. also remain available.
This has to be said: Good on the Titans for making changes to the in-stadium food. It was easily the least appealing part of the game-day experience the last couple of seasons (outside of, you know, missing the playoffs).
Here's what we tried yesterday:
— The Petro's chili pie was easily the best thing I had. Layers of chili, corn chips, cheese, tomatoes and sour cream (with optional black olives and jalapenos) were quite tasty. Once the temperature drops a little, chili is perfect game food. I could eat a lot of these. (Available in sections 111, 134, 207, 240, 313 and 334.)
— The Nashburger was the best of three new burgers they rolled out which will be sold at new Nashgrille stands. (Sections 108, 166, 131, 139, 319 and 328.) It's an angus beef patty with pimento cheese, applewood bacon and pickled green tomatoes. The pimento cheese was very mild and the tomatoes added a great sweet/sour whang to the sandwich.
— Boclair loved the Big Daddy Burger, which has Benton's country ham in mac-and-cheese and a little bit of barbecue sauce. I'm not a huge mac-and-cheese guy, but I can see this being popular.
— In partnership with Logan's Roadhouse, they're rolling out a hot chicken sandwich. Now, I've gotta tell you, there is such a ridiculously high bar for hot chicken in this town that I wouldn't have even attempted this. It's basically hot sauce on a battered chicken breast and none of that deep cayenne burn. (Sections 121, 144, 308 and 339.)
— The Music City Meatloaf sandwich is a better idea than was executed, with fried onions and chipotle mayo over slices of meatloaf. The problem is that in order to make the meat work on a mass scale, it's a little too dense and was sliced too thinly. I wanted a bigger hunk of meatloaf, maybe with a bit of the tomato sauce on top, that had more of a ground beef texture. (Sections 113, 136, 311, 336.)
Didn't try, but new for this year
— Portobello mushroom burger (Available in the Nashgrille locations). It's got provolone cheese, watercress and aoli on it. Nice to see a vegetarian option in the stadium.
— For those who have access to the club level, there are four new things from Titans Hospitality: A carved turkey sandwich, a cola-braised short rib sandwich, shrimp tacos and a penne pasta with shitake mushrooms (East and west club level action stations.)
All in all, it's a good effort, even if they missed on a few things. Game-day food doesn't have to be an endless stream of hot dogs, chicken tenders and pizza.