Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Audi Yankees Club - Dinner Is Worth The Price, But We Are Still Undecided About The Cost Of Membership


On Monday night, we had the rare pleasure of having access to one of the upscale, members only clubs at the new Yankee Stadium. A friend in the ticket office left us one day passes for the Audi Yankees Club, so we were able to skip the $975 membership charge, head over to the private elevator entrance near gate 2, and get right to our $65, all you can eat dinner.

There are essentially three options for people who find themselves in the Audi Club.

  • First, you can be a member of the club (either via a season membership or one day pass) and hang out by the bar area, with tons of 42 inch HDTVs in your sight-lines, but hardly any views of the field.

(We spent about 3 minutes in this area on Sunday in the rain, got bored, and left).

Which give the fans views of the field similar to this:

(taken from behind the seats)
These people have access to an all you can eat buffet featuring high end food, cooked right in front of your eyes at action cooking stations.
  • Third, and the option that we enjoyed on Monday night, is for people who have access to the club via a membership or one day pass, and want to eat dinner. These people can be seated restaurant style (the Audi Yankees Club takes reservations every day between 10 AM and 3 PM) either two hours before game time or right at game time. The seats are at the back of the club, and only feature glimpses of the field of play. If you choose this option at game time, you will miss seeing half of the game live. Of course, there are HDTVs scattered throughout the restaurant, and the radio broadcast is piped in through the speakers, so you will always know the game situation.
Upon being seated and ordering drinks, patrons have full reign over the all you can eat buffet. Unfortunately, we forgot to snap a photo of the menu, but here is a photo we took of the menu on Sunday for lunch (there is also a sample menu on

On this particular night, we hit the jackpot - the main courses were lobster tail and filet mignon. In addition, there was a stuffed pork loin, Boston clam chowder, mini salmon burgers, mini spicy sausages, a vegetable/noodle stir fry and various salads and a domestic cheese spread. There was also a hot dog station set up for people who want to be totally ripped off enjoy typical stadium food. Finally, there was a desert bar with various pastries, fresh fruit, and freshly cooked, warm fruits wrapped in a crepe-like dough and covered in powdered sugar or cinnamon.

Knowing exactly what it would take to get our money's worth, we headed right for the lobster station:

The lobsters seemed to be broiled in the back and then sauteed in pans for everyone to view. They were served with some tasty, generously-sized potatoes (first rule of the all you can eat buffet is steer clear of the carbs), and butter sauce to dip the lobster tail in. The chef even threw some extra bits of lobster that had been separated from certain lobster tails onto everyone's dish.

The lobster tails were relatively small, but they were all you can eat, so size did not matter. What did matter was that they were delicious, and our table for two at nine of them. That's right, nine.

Next up was a trip over to the filet mignon station, which was initially an extreme disappointment. For the first 25 minutes of our dinner, every time we went to get some of the filet, there was none available, and the carver told us more was cooking and would be out in 10 minutes. After three trips of heading up and seeing this:

We were convinced that as many lobster tails as we could eat, we had been scammed. After all, the real highlight of the menu was the filet mignon, and we kept on having to settle for salmon burgers, mini sausages and stuffed pork.

Still, we were troopers, and took advantage of these steak-less times to try out all of the other food, and check out the surroundings. We were surprised to see the weird old guy who dances around (Disco Stu) in the club:

He didn't seem to be eating.

Unfortunately, these tense moments without the beef also led us to some other dissatisfying revelations. The Boston clam chowder (appropriate since the Yankees were playing the Red Sox on this night) was colder than room temperature, which is no way to eat a good Boston clam chowder. Even after a couple of trips back to try for a fresh batch, it was still cold. They will have to work on their soups at the Audi Yankees Club.

Also, one of the carvers was repeatedly violating an important health code, right in front of everyone's eyes. Some people would come up to the station holding a half-full plate of food in their hands. They would hand it to the carver, and at one station the carver placed that dirty-bottomed plate onto a stack of fresh plates while carving the meat. Whoever received the next "clean" plate on that stack would actually be receiving a plate with the bacteria from someone else's hands on it. Knowing that the carver was an amateur and that the restaurant is brand new, we informed another employee, who moved the clean plates to a different location so this health code violation would no longer occur. Hopefully they solved that problem for good.

The waiter service was also disappointing. Their only responsibility was to take drink orders, fill drink orders and bring checks. Our particular waiter was so inefficient that we pulled an A-Rod and tipped "only" 15%. If it takes 25 minutes to get a rum and coke, and another 20 minutes for the check, and that is your only job, you don't even deserve that much of a tip.

Eventually the filet mignon line grew to the point where it was blocking other stations, because the meat was not being prepared fast enough. Eventually, the folks running the show in the back realized this and started pumping out more steaks at a time. The filets were not grilled, but roasted, and they were mostly cooked rare to medium-rare. Perfect for true steak lovers like ourselves.

The photo below captures one of the less impressive hunks of meat that was brought out, but it was still extremely tasty:

(please note that this was at the end of the night when I remembered to take a photo, so it isn't as impressive)

All of the foodstuffs are provided by Lobel's of New York, so they are sure to be of high quality.

After five helpings of freshly sliced filet mignon, we were ready to head over to the desert bar and chow down on some delicious treats. We typically don't like our fruit warmed up, but the crepe-like treats smelled so delicious while being cooked that we had to get in on the fun:

The atmosphere in the Audi Yankees Club was definitely upscale, but not overly stuffy. Fans are allowed in with casual attire on, so the surroundings are not filled with suits. The tables are a nice touch, featuring a centerpiece of what appears to be grass, perhaps even Yankee Stadium grass:

The Yankees can easily fit more tables into the restaurant area, but for now the tables are well spread out and comfortable, benefiting from the open feel of the entire club. It remains to be seen if the Yankees cram more tables in once the word gets out and the place becomes more popular.

Before the game started, there was lounge-style music playing, which combined with the soundproof glass, really took away from the feeling of being at a baseball game. However, during the national anthem, everyone in the restaurant became silent, stood, and honored America. All of a sudden, everyone was at a baseball game. It was surreal.

The start of Monday night's game was delayed nearly 2 and a half hours due to rain, but the staff of the Audi Club never rushed any of the diners. People were welcome to take their time and enjoy the dry, climate-controlled restaurant. In fact, they were still bringing out fresh food at 9 PM, two hours after the "official" seating time at 7 PM. On nights when the restaurant is filled with one-day pass holders (not officially for sale, but on the secondary market) and the combo seat/meal ticket holders (especially of the discounted variety), the place is definitely losing money. If they are eventually able to convince enough people to drop the $975 for a membership, they should be fine - even if everyone were gluttons like us.

Overall, we easily got our money's worth, and likely much more. How often can one enjoy high end, all you can eat surf 'n turf in New York City for any price? The answer is pretty much never. Unfortunately, the menu won't feature these top-notch options every night, so we can't guarantee that dropping the $65 will always be worth it. That being said, if you have the means to treat yourself to this fine dining experience, we doubt you will come away disappointed. If all we had to invest was another $65 to enjoy a meal of this caliber, we would do it in a heartbeat.

Addendum (courtesy of mtrico in the comments):

The following beer is available at the Audi Club:

Bottled: Amstel light, Bass, Becks, Corona, Heineken, Heineken Light, Hoegaarden, New Castle, Peroni, Bud, Bud Light, Brooklyn Lager, Coors Light, Michelob Ultra, Yuengling, Miller Lite, MGD 64.

Draft: Bud, Bud Light, Bud Ale, Coors Light, Stella Artois, Brooklyn Lager, Guiness, Bass.

The wine and liquor menu is too long to list.
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