Royals

AT&T Park takes ballpark food to a whole new level

Since June, an open air, organic garden has been growing beyond the centerfield fences at AT&T Park. Nearby is a patio and eatery with fire pits.
Since June, an open air, organic garden has been growing beyond the centerfield fences at AT&T Park. Nearby is a patio and eatery with fire pits. The Kansas City Star

Of the many differences between the Kansas City Royals and the Giants of San Francisco, there’s this:

When Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon or any of the boys in blue smack a home run into center field at home, the ball lands in a fountain.

Here, they land in a center field net that protects what, since June, has become one of the most popular venues at AT&T Park: an open-air, organic garden, patio and eatery with fire pits, a wine bar and concessions-stand attendees like April Thomas, 44, who introduce their offerings like this:

“What we have here,” she said, “are four flatbread pizzas. We have a hot dog with red relish and arugula; a sausage with fennel, oyster, mushrooms, garlic and caramelized onions. It also has arugula.”

That all?

No, there’s the drinks: lemonade with local honey and spearmint, or a glass of strawberry-infused spa water, or a limeade with fennel. Dining here, one is surrounded by the garden, created as a teaching garden, that contains 18 edible plants.

“I know! Can you believe it?” said Eileen McCrystle, 57. “It’s so San Francisco. But I love it.”

Sure, even residents recognize the stereotype.

Say what you will about the Giants team, the food here ain’t your hot dog or nachos with cheese sauce.

Up in the club-level seats, Kevin Halsted, 54, serves mixed drinks. Nothing fancy — bourbon, vodka, gin. Some wines, too, although some patrons complain about the choices of merlot.

“There’s a little wine snob in everybody,” said Halsted, who then pointed down the corridor. “They do have a wine and champagne bar around the corner.”

Where else would it be but next to the antipasto bar at the Farmer’s Market, where server Jasmin Khabay, 28, said the grilled eggplant sandwich is also popular along with, hmm, what is that dessert?

“It’s a strawberry shortcake,” she said,

Down in the organic garden, Royals fan Mike Wilson, 36, who grew up in Lee’s Summit but now lives in Houston, saw the garden for the first time.

“This food is amazing,” he said. But, and you knew this was coming, “they don’t have barbecue.”

To reach Eric Adler, call 816-234-4431 or send email to eadler@kcstar.com.

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