HOT FOOD FOR THE COLD RINK

Xcel Energy Center's new food is hot in the figurative and literal sense

Photo by aceshot/Fotolia

By Lianna Matt

Minneapolis and St. Paul professional sports stadiums are doing more than ever to provide chef-driven cuisine—think annually changing menus and, over at Target Field, the name of local and international celebrity Andrew Zimmern gracing a concession front. However, the staples of fan food are hard to beat. The Xcel Energy Center’s executive chef Kyle Bowles knows this, and his newly unveiled 24-piece menu makes sure to provide familiar dishes with some twists for Wild hockey fans.

“Classics are classics for a reason. It’s mobility ease, groceries, ease of eating. I just try to enhance them,” says Bowles.

He made sure make fan favorites available no matter where you're sitting in the area. Two hot dog styles and a Super Nacho option are praised in general concessions. The timeless bacon-wrapped dog has a dash of Louisiana hot sauce, and the elote dog’s chorizo sausage has a nice grilled/creamed corn splash on it. And the club (Reserve) and suite levels are where you'll find a pulled buffalo chicken sandwich and Sheboygan Brat Sampler. As for the very Minnesotan seeming Bucket O’Balls (meatballs), Bowles says that even though there’s nothing experimental or novel about them, they’re house-made, hand-rolled and so dang good people will love them.

A snapshot of some of the Reserve and suite level foods, such as lobster mac and cheese. Photo by Claire Noack.

Photo by Claire Noack.

Making your way up the food chain to the Reserve and suite levels, items start getting a little more luxurious. Instead of only serving higher end appetizers, this past year people began asking for full entrees, and Bowles acquiesced with Reserve dishes like a delicious wild mushroom ravioli and pesto. The watermelon caprese salad (the most exciting salad offering) is a refreshing break from the pasta- and meat-heavy menu, and it is a wonderful reminder that watermelon and basil are a great combination. The Italian beef rolled flatbread also known as “The Stickwich” was an all-around favorite. It’s easy to eat—its wrap will even give your fingers a nice bit of warmth—the flatbread is pleasantly crunchy and soft, and the peppers work great with the beef. If only it were offered on the general concessions level, too.

On the suite level, dishes like the lobster mac and cheese are served, and although the orange and Tabasco wings made my eyes water a bit from the spices when I dished up, the orange sweetly balanced everything out.

While almost all of the food will be house made by the Xcel Energy Center staff, we have to give a shout out to Original Hockey Mom Brownies. If you’ve been anywhere downtown during the food truck season, you may have seen their sea foam green truck and thought, “… Is it worth it?” The answer is definitively yes.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’ll let you know now: This hockey season, you’re not going to go home hungry.

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