This seems to be an awesome time to be a Buffalo sports fan. Between the Bills looking legit and Terry Pegula raining money and awesomeness onto the Sabres, I think it’s going to be a good fall. Thursday the Sabres held another media event at the First Niagara Center. They have been really reaching out to fans and media (including bloggers) lately…holding open conversations on twitter, taking improvement suggestions from fans (and enacting many of those suggestions), having players and even Terry himself deliver season tickets to fans. It almost seems like it’s too good to be true, this billionaire sweeping in and saving the team from mediocrity. In the end what will matter is how the Sabres actually do this season, but arena improvements, anti-slug days, and the positive and approachable personalities of the Terry and Ted Black don’t hurt.
On Thursday the Sabres and Delaware North Companies held a Taste of the Season Food Preview event in the Harbour Club at the First Niagara Center. Media members (and some notable Sabres personalities-Rick Jeanneret, Rob Ray, Kevin Sylvester, Sabretooth) gathered to sample the new food items that will be available in the Center this year. To start, there was a jazz trio playing near the entrance to the locker rooms when we entered the arena. A jazz trio. For no other reason other than that there was a media food event. Is this real life?
To begin the event, Ted Black came in and was his normal awesome self and talked briefly about improvements to the facades of the food stands and some additions, including a mention of the Labatt Party Tent that will be outside for every game. Then we got to meet Chef Scott Green, the executive chef of the First Niagara Center. He briefly talked about how they really tried to be creative this year and listen to fan suggestions while overhauling some of the food items offered. He has been the head chef at the F’N Center for about a year.
After wandering around the Harbour Club and snapping some photos we finally got down to what we do best, eating. They had a lovely buffet set up where they spotlighted all of the new food items that you can find around the Center this season. Now, before we do a breakdown of the items we have to first say that, unfortunately, a lot of the items we were really excited about and were the most impressive will only be available in the Harbour Club and Suites…which means not available to the normal everyday fan sitting in regular 100/300 level seats. While that fact is a bit disappointing, the Sabres organization and Delaware North are certainly on the right track with regard to their food service and we can only see it getting better from here.
So, without further adieu, here are the new food items you can expect to find at the First Niagara Center this season… (ps you can see all of our pictures in our facebook gallery here)
300 level: There are only two new items available in the 300 level this year and both of those items are hot dogs. However, it has been confirmed the hot dogs are now Sahlens. In addition, new toppings are available. The Main & Fillmore Hot Dog has chili, cheese, mustard and onions. And the Downtown Hot Dog has chili, sauerkraut and mustard. So not only will you have a better quality hot dog but you have some options for toppings that are more interesting than your standard ketchup and mustard. They also are going to have a Perry’s Ice Cream stand up in the 300′s that will serve various Perry’s flavors.
100 level: We were at the Center for a preseason game a few weeks ago and tweeted about a few of these new items that we noticed walking around the 100 level. The first thing we noticed was the Anchor Bar Chicken Finger Sub. We were skeptical when we saw it, the chicken fingers available in the arena in the past have been less than stellar. However, we sampled the sub during the preview event and were actually pleasantly surprised. Now, the quality and freshness of the food made for this event is clearly going to be better than whats made behind the counters on game days, but the chicken finger was actually quite crispy and the fact that they are trying to incorporate famous local hot sauce is promising. I will have to try a full order of this sub during a game to give a true review, but it’s a nice Buffalo inspired edition to the menu. The other new items that will be offered in the 100 level include a Steak Sandwich, Chicken Parmigiana Sandwhich, and Home-Style Pizza. The pizza will be made in-house with locally sourced cheese and meat.
Harbour Club 100: Here is where you can find one of the new items we enjoyed the most, the Beef on Weck Sushi Roll. This non traditional sushi roll includes a rare piece of sesame beef in a cucumber-fried sushi roll with homemade pickled ginger and wasabi on the side. It was actually quite delicious, but can only be found in the 100 level Harbour Club. If you are a member or stopping by for a nice pre-game meal you will also find Lobster Mac & Cheese (which had HUGE chunks of lobster and a panko crust), Homemade Jumbo Ravioli (stuffed with ricotta and goat cheese) and an assortment of Tapas (olives, cured meats, pita, hummus).
Harbour Club 200: This is a place you will probably never find me, but if you find yourself there you will enjoy new items including a Beef Bomber (thinly sliced top-round with peppers and onions on a torpedo roll), Grilled Steak Flat Bread, Margarita Shrimp Cocktail, and Greek Salad.
Suites: Another place you may unfortunately never find me (unless anyone wants to invite me up!) but they really overhauled the menu up there this year with 7 new items, many of which we really really enjoyed at the tasting. One of our favorite items was the Warm Bavarian Pretzel Twists with German-style hot mustard and cheddar/beer cheese dips. Nothing world changing, but a warm, soft and fresh pretzel stick that is a much better quality than the regular cold and sometimes hard pretzel you may find in the 100 level. Speaking to Jeff Shanor, Operations Manager for Sportservice at the First Niagara Center, he did mention that they will hopefully be introducing something similar down at the regular concession stands (fingers crossed). The other new items in the sweet will include Hop and Honey Roasted Cashews, Artisan Cheese and Sausage Boards, Hat Trick Quesadillas (chicken, beef, and vegetarian filling options), a Wedge Salad (this was one of my favorites and includes a California French dressing, crumbly blue cheese and bacon), Buffalo’s BBBLT (with bacon, pancetta, Canadian bacon, and mozzarella on a French loaf), and Shrimp Scampi.
So, overall, if you are in the Suites or Harbour Club you have a lot of cool and tasty food items to look forward to this season. If you are in the 100 or 300 level there will be a few new things for you to try and newly remodeled food stand facades to look at. While we really hope to see some of those Suite/Harbour club items moving down to us regular seat folk, we are happy that they are taking the time to create new food options and reaching out to the public and media members for suggestions and reviews.
We would like to thank both Delaware North and the Buffalo Sabres for inviting us to this awesome event. Can’t wait for the first game of the season, Let’s Go Buff-a-lo.