A New Menu For the U.S. Open
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For the first time in 12 years, the catering group Restaurant Associates is not handling the catering at the U.S. Open. The food in Flushing is getting a makeover as the Chicago-based Levy Restaurant Group takes the helm. The chef de cuisine of the restaurant group, John McLean, moved to Queens for the two-week assignment, and quickly changed the menus of the tennis center’s three restaurants and countless vendors.
According to Mr. McLean, 40 Levy Restaurant chefs from across the country are now cooking for the thousands of tennis fans swarming Flushing Meadows. “With this huge event, we needed some support, and we asked teams of chefs to come out to New York,” he said last week. The chefs, who come from both restaurant and sports catering positions, are helping to create what Mr. McLean describes as interesting food that can be eaten while traveling in-between matches and while lounging around.
Mr. McLean is most excited about the new “double burger” that many vendors are offering. “The burger comes with double beef patties, onions, cheese, and a secret sauce with a mustard base,” Mr. McLean said. Another vendor, Noo-Shi, is offering sushi and noodle salads. Choices include lemongrass shrimp, beef noodle, and Thai ginger salads. The Cuppaspotta vendor offers espresso and regular coffee drinks, and freshbaked pastries and breads.And one familiar New York name — Carnegie Deli — is selling its traditional oversize pastrami sandwiches.
The tennis center also operates three full-size restaurants: Aces, Champions, and Mojitos. Aces and Champions, both billed as American steakhouses, are only open to club-level ticket holders. Mojitos, on the other hand, is open to all ticket holders, including those with day passes. Mr. McLean highlighted the many steak options at Aces and Champions, including a 3 lb. Porterhouse for two, a 16 oz. New York strip steak, and a 10 oz. filet mignon.
The cuisine at Mojitos is the most in-tune with the diverse flavors of the borough. Under chef Eddie Romero, the restaurant offers a lobster quesadilla with Jack cheese and a lime crema, and plantain-encrusted halibut. Mr. Romero uses pounded fried plantains to coat the halibut, which is served on top of a sweet plantain cake. Desserts include mango cheesecake, coconut flan, and coconut and cinnamon-chocolate puddings. Of course, the restaurant also offers an array of mojitos, including the traditional mint flavor, as well as cucumber and raspberry.
Mr. McLean is pleased with the ways his culinary goals for this year’s tournament have turned out. “We wanted an international flair to this year’s options,” Mr. McLean said. “From Japanese to Mediterranean cuisines, this is what’s important to us. There is everything for everybody.”