Concession Review No. 1: High Plains Bison Cheeseburger

By Chris Rewers on Monday, April 19, 2010

I am not very adventurous when it comes to food.

The same could be said about my tastes in general.

I know what I like.

I still watch Cheers reruns and still laugh out loud. Born To Run has been loaded in my living room's CD player since the week I moved into my home eight years ago. To my wife's chagrin, I still like to wear fedoras and rugby shirts. I go to the same set of restaurants and bars and (with the exception of Lenten Fridays) order the same exact thing each visit. I still root for the Cubs even after all that they've subjected me to. When in need at sustenance at Wrigley Field, I always have purchased a grilled hot dog from a concourse cart in the lower deck and a combo sandwich from the patio area when my seat has been in the upper deck.

When my wife, Denise, suggested that I expand my Wrigley culinary horizons on Saturday during our first 2010 visit to the Friendly Confines, I was hesitant. I was hungry and, since I was seated in the lower deck, had a craving for a grilled dog with all the fixings.

But Denise had been reading about Wrigley's Sheffield Grill in the scorecard supplement and was determined to pay a visit.

"Why don't you try the bison burger?" she asked.

I was reluctant.

I purchased a hamburger from a concession stand at Wrigley on Aug. 7, 1986. It was so bad that I remember the date. The Cubs were routed by the Mets 12-3. It took me a week to get over that loss and even longer to get the taste of that godawful burger out of my mouth. It was so thin that an eclipse of the sun could be viewed through it, it was as tough as shoe leather, served on a rock hard stale bun, and because of a lack of condiments my tongue was able to fully absorb its charcoal flavor.

But that was a long time ago. Wrigley was now under new management.

I decided that I would give bison a chance.

Denise left to fetch my grub and returned with a High Plains Bison Cheeseburger with a side of potato chips. It cost $8 and came with all the trimmings - ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and raw onion slices - on a standard bun.

I took my first bite in the bottom of the fifth and Geovany Soto promptly doubled. It was pretty darn good, as far as ballpark fare goes. It was thicker than I had anticipated. It wasn't dry nor was it greasy. It didn't taste like shoe leather nor like chicken. It tasted exactly like a high-quality sirloin burger that I would grill at home. The fact that my scorecard was left with a mustard stain but not a grease stain was testament to its quality. The chips - crunchy and not too salty - also were quite satisfying.

According to the scorecard supplement, "bison meat is generally considered a healthier option than standard beef, but there is little doubt that it is tastier and more flavorful."
Michael Iacobelli, Levy Restaurants director of operations, added that, "The High Plains Bison is all-natural and low in fat and cholesterol."

Any health benefits that I may have gained from my lunch choice, however, were no doubt negated by the several beers that I consumed and the plate of chicken wings I devoured later that evening.

Everything in moderation.

The Sheffield Grill is located in the right-field corner. It had previously been available only for private parties but now is open to all paying customers.

Permanent menu items include the bison cheeseburger, bison hot dog, char-grilled chicken breast sandwich, buffalo wings, and classic Caesar salad. Items that will rotate on every homestand include the bison meatball sandwich, bison sausage sampler, Asian noodle station, jambalaya, hand-carved smoke beef brisket, and Cuban sandwich. High Plains Bison products, incidentally, are courtesy of the Ricketts family ranch in Little Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

It's just like when Doublemint and Juicy Fruit were available at concession stands during the Wrigley regime.

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