MINNEAPOLIS -- The building was erected atop the ruins of the venerable Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, but it should be clear by now that U.S. Bank Stadium will have little in common with its predecessor, apart from an address.
For one, there should be something more savory wafting through the air of the new building than the scent of old nacho cheese.
The Vikings unveiled part of U.S. Bank Stadium's menu on Tuesday morning, as well as a list of the award-winning chefs who will help design the food at the $1.1 billion stadium. Atop that list is TV personality Andrew Zimmern, who makes his home in the Twin Cities and will have two dining spots in the stadium. Minneapolis chef Gavin Kaysen, who runs the popular downtown restaurant Spoon and Stable, partnered with Zimmern at AZC Hoagies, and the two were slicing up samples of their Italian porchetta sandwich in the Vikings' stadium preview center on Tuesday morning.
"Gavin and I, when he was in New York, were just talking and saying, 'You know, someday we should do something in a stadium in Minnesota together,'" Zimmern said. "We think we're going to recalibrate the way people enjoy the Italian sandwich concept in Minnesota."
U.S. Bank Stadium will also include food from Revival in south Minneapolis -- which offered up a petit fried chicken sandwich on Tuesday morning -- and Ike's Food and Cocktails, a longstanding downtown establishment that served a sliced tenderloin sandwich with fried onions and horseradish aioli to those in attendance on Tuesday. And in addition to his sandwich shop with Kaysen, Zimmern will open a rotisserie that serves beef, pork, goat and lamb. To the palate of this sportswriter -- however unrefined it may be -- Zimmern and Kaysen's porchetta sandwich took the top spot of the three items offered on Tuesday morning.
"When I say, 'football,' one of the first things you think of is food," Zimmern said. "The biggest food day of the year in America is not Thanksgiving; it's Super Bowl Sunday. More Americans eat in their homes in Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year. More food is consumed, per capita, by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year. We want to create really good football food. We're not doing sushi. We're not doing coq au vin. We're doing the best hot sandwiches you can find, because on a cold day at the stadium, you're going to want a hot sandwich."
The Vikings haven't announced the full menu for the stadium yet, though Aramark Sports and Entertainment president Carl Mittleman said there will be more details "and new surprises" coming this summer. There won't be much time for a test drive before the stadium opens, though; Zimmern said "we're going to load in and go live" a couple days before the stadium opens with the Chelsea-AC Milan soccer friendly on August 2.
There'll be plenty for the hot dog-and-beer crowd, too, though much like in new stadiums across the country, a portion of the U.S. Bank Stadium menu caters to those who want more chef-driven options and local flavors (likely at a higher price) than standard fare.
The Metrodome and its menu will live on in the olfactory memories of fans. In comparison to what's on the plate at U.S. Bank Stadium, however, the old building couldn't be further away.
"In today's economy, in today's sports world, going to the stadium is a special event for people," Zimmern said. "Tickets are hard. Parking's expensive. What you eat in the stadium should reflect that whole experience. If you're going to have a burger, it should be the best burger. If you're going to have a pork sandwich, it should be the best pork sandwich, from the bread to the mustard to everything."