Game for variety?

Seattle Mariner's fans chow down at Safeco Field.

Sports fans fill up at The Safe

Stacee Sledge


July 4, 2002 -- This little anecdote might give you a glimpse into what the Seattle Mariners and Safeco Field mean to me: To celebrate our second wedding anniversary last year, my husband and I splurged on sixth-row seats along the first-base line.

Since the symbol of the second anniversary is cotton, we even contemplated sharing a cotton candy. Instead, we were tempted by the myriad of other culinary choices at The Safe. Our solution? Go back as often as possible to see those glorious M's play -- and sample new gastronomical goodies each time.

Growing up in Iowa, my team of choice was the Kansas City Royals. I don't remember ever eating anything but hot dogs at those sweltering summer games, but times have changed, especially in Seattle.

Every time I go to a Mariners game, the smell of garlic wafts through the air every few minutes, as someone passes by with a heaping order of Grounders garlic fries. The brilliant creation of Ivar's restaurants, these fries were inspired by the popular Gilroy garlic fries at San Francisco's Pacific Bell Park. Sprinkled liberally with minced garlic, kosher salt and fresh parsley, these slivers of fried Idaho spuds will more than satisfy. In fact, the lasting garlic effect may tip off your co-workers the day after you play hooky for an afternoon game.

Safeco Field

Location:
1250 First Ave. So., Seattle

Phone: (206) 346-4000

Serving: Traditional ballpark fare alongside mouth-watering Northwest chow and Asian cuisine.

Menu items sampled:
Garlic fries $5
Kidd Valley cheeseburger $5.50
Kidd Valley Chocolate shake $4

Ichiroll combo $12
Major League Mariner Dog $5.50
Chicken fingers and fries $6.75
Bubba's Burly Burrito $5.50
Bubba fries $4.75
Salmon sandwich $7

For our anniversary this year, we chose the romantic repast of Kidd Valley cheeseburgers and the above-mentioned garlic fries. Call us traditionalists.

The Kidd Valley cheeseburger is a generous portion of charbroiled burger on an enormous sesame seed bun, piled high with lettuce, onion, pickle and tomato. Skimpy isn't a word you'd associate with this burger, and one made for a filling meal -- except for my husband, who can eat enough for a battalion of batboys and still have room for dessert.

He ordered a Kidd Valley chocolate shake to chase down his burger, a thick, creamy, sweet reminder of childhood. I snuck sips here and there, otherwise equally engaged by watching the game and that catch of a catcher, Dan Wilson. Additional treats can be sampled at the Sweet Spot, which sells a variety of bulk candies, while ice cream and frozen treats can be found at the Frozen Rope.

A second visit to Safeco last week saw us sitting in the bleacher seats with friends near the Hit It Here Cafe & Terrace. The newly redesigned casual restaurant offers appetizers, salads, burgers, hand-carved sandwiches, fresh pasta entrees and fish and chips. You can also finish your meal with their popular Big Fat Chocolate Cake and deep-fried cheesecake. If you want to watch the game from the Hit It Here Cafe, you need to purchase specific tickets. Maybe that's how we'll celebrate next year's anniversary.

We wandered around with our friends Patrice and Wes, checking out the bullpen and looking at Mariner merchandise. My husband set his sights on a salmon sandwich, those mandatory garlic fries and sushi (I told you he liked to eat!), while the rest of us went in search of more traditional fare.

My husband appeared with two cardboard trays laden with garlic fries and a scrumptious salmon sandwich. He was content, for the time being.

Patrice came back to our seats loaded down with a Bubba's veggie burrito and Bubba fries. She worked on the fries first, a carton of tater-tot look-alikes with a kick, dipped in a chipotle chile sauce. Her burrito was wrapped in foil and remained piping hot until she was ready to eat it a couple innings later. A soft tortilla wrapped around the usual burrito filling of black beans, rice, salsa and cheese. She was pleased.

Our other baseball cohort, Wes, went with the obligatory Major League Mariner Dog. Grilled through and served on a fresh Gai's bun, the hot dog was, in the words of my husband, "embarrassingly large." Wes piled on the fresh condiments, finished off the gargantuan dog, and then declared that a Minor League Mariner Dog might have been a better way to go.

A few innings later my husband was ready for that sushi. He ordered the Ichiroll combo at the Sushi & Sake stand down by the bullpen and couldn't stop raving. Six spicy tuna rolls joined three pieces of nigiri sushi and rounded out with fresh ginger and fiery wasabi.

As for my food selection for the evening, well, not every meal can be a home run. My fatal error may have been in waiting until the seventh inning to grab a bite. I chose chicken fingers and french fries from the Rolling Roof Refreshment stand. The three sizeable chicken strips were made of high-quality white meat, but served only slightly warm and with a different sauce than the one I requested. The real disappointment was the soggy and cold french fries served under the chicken fingers. Next time, I'm sticking with those glorious garlic fries.

For fans who like to follow a diet that allows them to run the bases without becoming winded, the Health Hut offers heart-healthy dishes that make a guilt-free alternative to regular ballpark fare, serving fresh soups, salads, veggie dogs, fruit cups, granola bars and smoothies.

As you might expect, prices can be a bit steep on many items, just like at other sporting venues. Now that's one tradition I remember clearly from my Kansas City Royals days.

Several times a year we enjoy sampling the foodstuff at The Safe and watching the Mariners make mincemeat of their opponents. Of course, the game is the main attraction, but the variety of vendors offering any food item you could possibly crave is also grounds to take yourself out to the ballgame again and again.

The Fine Print: I dine on my own dime. The opinions herein are mine alone, not The Bellingham Herald's. Agree? Disagree? Please drop me a line at StaceeSledge@hotmail.com.

 

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