Northwestern opened the gates of Ryan Field on Aug. 26 for its annual Meet The Team Night. Pat Fitzgerald addressed fans and announced Clayton Thorson, Justin Jackson, Tyler Lancaster and Godwin Igwebuike as team captains, but the Wildcats also offered free concession sampling from the new 2017 Ryan Field signature menu.
On top of a a revamped menu available to Wildcats fans, Ryan Field is going to have prime rib sliders from Pete Millers, chicken sliders from Bat17, an 8-wing meal from Buffalo Joe’s, and a pulled pork sandwich from Bluestone. These four meals will be available at a stand called “E-Town Eats.”
Signature items available to fans on Friday included the Big Cats Chicken Nachos, the Big Brisket Burger, the BBQ Pork Burger, the Monterey Black Bean Burger, the Wildcat Float and an assortment of dessert options.
Of course, because Inside NU strives to make your life better, we reviewed these new options for you. That’s coming up, but first, here’s a beautiful photo gallery.
*Note: All photos of food are courtesy of Sodexo.
Ancho Guacamole Burger
Avocado BLT Angus Burger
#BigCats Bacon Doughnut Burger (!!!)
#BigCats Chicken Nachos
#BigCats Chili Cheese Burger
#BigCats Chili Cheese Dog
#BigCats Big BBQ Pulled Pork Burger
#BigCats Big Brisket Burger
#BigCats Monterey Bean Burger
Chicago Italian Combo Burger
Chipotle Bacon Gorgonzola Burger
Hot Brownie Helmet Sundae
Hot Cookie Helmet Sundae
Sriracha BBQ Chicken Sandiwch
Wild Mushroom Angus Burger
While some of these food options will be available at Ryan Field all year, starting Week 1, others will be unveiled throughout the season; there’s a new item featured for every home game. You can get your hands on the Avocado BLT Angus Burger this Saturday against Nevada and the Chipotle Bacon Gorgonzola Burger on Sept. 16 for the Bowling Green game. Homecoming on Oct. 7 against Penn State will be a morning game, and fittingly will reveal the #BigCats Bacon Doughnut Burger as well as the Sriracha Chicken Sandwich. The Iowa game on Oct. 21 will feature the Ancho Guacamole Burger and the Oct. 28 matchup against Michigan State will have the Wild Mushroom Angus Burger. Family weekend against Purdue on Nov. 11 will feature the Chicago Italian Combo Burger and Northwestern’s home slate will end on Nov. 18 against Minnesota with the #BigCats Chili Cheese Dog and the #BigCats Chili Cheeseburger.
I actually got my hands on the Chicago Italian Combo Burger at Monday’s press conference and it tasted as good as it looks. Great kick to that one.
Fellow Northwestern junior and longtime NU fan Kevin Fortin attended Meet the Team Night with me. Together, we have toiled through an uninspiring era of food at Ryan Field and were extremely excited to try the changes. We didn’t get to sample any of the week-specific items, but we did get to try almost all of the new regulars.
Martin: Kevin, we got to try the BBQ Pulled Pork Burger, Big Brisket Burger, Monterey Bean Burger, the Big Cats Chicken Nachos and the Wildcat Float. What are your initial takeaways?
Kevin: The food was really gourmet. Burgers had pretty good pretzel buns and a variety of different toppings. Meat was cooked well. Also, I liked how the food was Northwestern themed. Lots of purple with the float and nacho chips, and naming things “Big Cats ____” was a nice touch.
Martin: I agree, definitely love the Northwestern theme. Even the pretzel buns were in the shape of paws. You’re a local guy, what did you think of the “E-Town Eats” addition?
Kevin: I’m especially excited for the weekly specials and restaurants coming in. Buff[alo] Joe’s will be good. Pete Miller’s will be out of my price range but probably good as well.
Martin: Let’s go through the food options that were available. What were your thoughts on the BBQ Pulled Pork Burger?
Kevin: The BBQ sauce was restaurant quality but the meat was kinda salty. I had to drink three water bottles after.
Martin: Fair point, hydration is everything when you’re going a full four quarters. The BBQ Burger was probably my favorite — burger with pulled pork and bacon on top is inevitably going to be salty. How about the Big Brisket Burger?
Kevin: That was my favorite. There’s a lot of meat on there. Might be too much to handle in a full portion but the slider size we had was really good. That coleslaw on top was solid too.
Martin: That’s a good observation. Neither of us tried the Monterey Bean Burger but didn’t it look good?
Kevin: Yeah, it looked like a great vegetarian option. The guacamole was a nice touch and something you don't see too often at a stadium.
Martin: We both enjoyed the Big Cats Chicken Nachos. What were your thoughts on those?
Kevin: The nachos were unreal. I’m a big fan of the purple chips and the chicken tinga. Refried beans on it were nice but hit the digestive system hard.
Martin: Sacrifices were made. The final item on the menu was the Wildcat Float. This was essentially a root beer float but with grape soda instead of root beer. I’m not a huge grape soda guy to begin with...
Kevin: Me neither, the Wildcat Float was kinda weird. Whipped cream and ice cream are always good but grape soda kinda ruined it. Would've been way better with purple colored root beer or Coke or maybe normal colored root beer with purple whipped cream.
Martin: That’s a good idea actually. I like that.
Kevin: Anything but the grape soda.