Stephanie Izard took a page out of Ian Happ’s book kicking off the 2018 season with his Opening Day homer by kicking off the 2018 Chef Series at Wrigley Field with a home run of upscale food offerings. I would expect nothing less from the accomplished owner of Girl and the Goat, Little Goat Diner and Duck, Duck, Goat. As luck (or my own excitement) would have it, I was the first person in line to try this incredible food and it did not disappoint.
Let’s start with the menu and offerings. The menu features waffle fries with crispy pork belly, Yucatan pork tacos on flour tortillas, and your choice of three sandwiches: creole chicken, sloppy joe or a waffle fry sandwich (yes, I’m serious, it’s a sandwich made with waffle fries).
You can see the entire line up in this shot:
The portion sizes are generous and the food is subject to the same 10 percent discount an hour before the game that you can get on all food at Wrigley Field. I purposefully didn’t eat a ton yesterday before I went to the ballpark, because I knew I was writing/reviewing this food. I was still totally full from the pork belly waffle fries and wound up just trying single bites of other people’s food/asking people about their orders. If you’re balking at the price on a $14 sandwich, know that it’s a sizable meal. You can get an idea of scale from my beer that I accidentally left in the shot. Although I will note the waffle fries and tacos are priced pretty competitively with similar Wrigley Field fare and offer a substantial upgrade in quality from what you’ll find in the concourse.
I went for the fries yesterday for comparative reasons (it was also the first dish I ordered last year). Last year they were good, this year they were outstanding. Izard’s creole seasoning and chili oil on the fries has some heat to it. Not the type of heat that knocks you down with the first bite, but the kind that creeps up on you a bit as you keep eating. It’s delicious and I love spicy food, but I did find myself reaching for my beer more frequently as I finished my fries. The heat is cut nicely with some pickled peppers. You’ll find the same seasoning on the waffle fry sandwiches.
I’m going to need to make a trip back during this homestand so I can get my own order of the tacos. The tacos are new to her menu this year (last year’s menu featured goat tacos), and these exceeded my expectations. I was wary about ordering them as my main meal because tacos at the ballpark can be super messy, but the flour tortillas hold up better than corn. The flavors of the meat, slaw, cilantro and pickled peppers all play off each other in the most taco of taco ways. With three to an order, this might be the best dinner available at the ballpark.
I’m not a huge sandwich person, but I did ask around. Both the chicken sandwich and the sloppy joes received great reviews from the table next to me and BCB reader katie casey (aside: it was so much fun to run into you again!) You can see a closer look at each below:
There were only two parts of the night that were better than the food since the Cubs were unable to do much off of the Phillies’ Zach Eflin. The first was another Javier Baez webgem in the eighth inning. The second was Chef Izard visiting with fans and overseeing the opening night of the Chef Series. I was very impressed with her professionalism and eye for detail for the event and trying really hard to keep my fangirling to a minimum when she came over to say hi.
As they set up a sampling of all of the dishes on my table it became really clear why Chef Izard is a Top Chef and an Iron Chef. She immediately noticed small elements of those dishes that were not quite up to her standards and communicated those to the staff at Wrigley. I’d always been curious how much each chef is involved in menu creation and quality control at the ballpark, and it was very cool to get an answer to that question, at least for Chef Izard. It’s also worth noting that she was a lovely person to chat with briefly, and somehow managed to maintain a friendly and gracious atmosphere even as she went into chef mode.
Were you able to check out Chef Izard’s menu yesterday or are you planning on heading to Wrigley Field while it’s available? Let us know what you thought in the comments section and remember you have until this coming Sunday, June 10 to sample this incredible food.