Eating for the Cycle

Mike Cook

Delaware North earned their selves a challenge when they landed the new deal for concessions at Camden Yards. Not only would the food be compared to the quality of the surroundings in one of the finest ball parks in the country, but because Camden Yards allows food to be brought in, Delaware North would be competing with outside vendors whose cries of "three hotdogs for $5" surely echoed all the way to Delaware North's Buffalo NY headquarters.

Preliminary reviews were cautiously positive in the Sun, though not all went well; lines on opening day dragged. Soviet-era breadlines seem a thing of the past at Camden, though. I attended on July 10th, when a one hour rain delay sent a deluge of bored and hungry fans into the concourses. Despite the onrush, lines remained short, allowing me to quickly meet the many new menu items. The full list of items is here.

I tried the O's pretzel, a handmade pretzel shaped in the cursive Orioles "O." It had been basted in butter and sprinkled in salt and was served hot, for $5. I loved its chewiness, which was a home-run compared to the spare-tire texture of the usually frozen options. It felt heartier than the almost molten softness of an Auntie Anne's pretzel.

In addition to adding Natty Boh on tap, Delaware North has brought a Natty Boh Brat to Camden Yards. You can find the brat at both Sausage Haus counters and Pollock Johnny stands, which makes it much easier to find than a lot of the new specialties which only live in one or two places.

I'm on record saying that Natty Boh doesn't impress me, but I’m changing my opinion for the brat. That is a tasty, juicy sausage, and it's served on a nice roll as well. In this category in particular, Delaware North had to perform. The Natty Boh brat is $6, and while no one outside the park is making hand rolled pretzels, they are still selling brats for half as much. The accompanying peppers and onions on my brat failed me; they hadn't captured that caramelized goodness that I love in grilled veggies.

The all-star of the new lineup is most certainly the Rolling Crab; a deep fried spring roll, filled with crab meat and a cheesy corn salsa. The Rolling Crab tastes like the pinnacle of Baltimore junk food. It's easy to eat too, and at $5 is not a bad deal for a crab-based treat. Inspiration apparently came from the Whistling Oyster's Harbor Rolls.

Delaware North has mostly lived up to the O's hallowed halls, at least as my taste buds call the game. It's still tough to compete for value with the marketplace outside, though. Speaking of which, if you do want to bring your food in with you, look for vendors on Conway Street or in the triangle in front of Pickles, though a few many camp along Pratt Street. You can always find three dogs for $5 on Conway, but the best variety of food is outside Pickles, where there are some very good sausages being grilled and vendors doing their best to keep Delaware North working hard.     

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