Walking into Providence Park on matchdays always brings with it a sense of buzz and excitement. The rising volume of the crowd as the stands fill, the chatter of fans in the concourses pregame, watching the Portland Timbers or Thorns FC warm up, and catching the smells of all the various foods wafting through the stadium all contribute to a unique soccer experience in Portland.
Ben Forsythe, stadium general manager of Providence Park’s food, beverage, catering and hospitality company Centerplate, knows this feeling well. A Portland native who has worked in the downtown restaurant scene for years at places like Bluehour and Pazzo Ristorante, Forsythe has helped find ways to bring what he knows about his beloved Rose City into a key part of the matchday experience: food.
“Growing up in Portland, it’s a mecca; it’s one of the great cities in the world in which to eat,” said Forsythe. “The Timbers and Thorns have done such a great job of making these teams and the stadium experience part of the culture of Portland that the onus was on Centerplate to get what you’re seeing in the restaurant scene in Portland, and bring it into the stadium.”
To do that, Forsythe and his team have tasted, sampled, tested, and collaborated with numerous local food vendors to deliver some of the best local product around. A plethora of Oregon and Rose City-based companies will be featured at the park this season including:
Add to the fact that many of these vendors hail from a very close-in radius around the stadium and it can lead to some fun combinations of food as well as hyper-local flavor.
“The Timber Brat, which is something we’ve done for the last couple years, is a Zenner’s bratwurst wrapped in Zenner’s bacon on a Franz bun with Widmer beer-braised onions,” said Forsythe. “Every aspect of that dish is made within four miles of the stadium.”
Though fans may be well accustomed to the Timbers Brat already, there are also numerous new food menu items to debut this season found around Providence Park. Among the highlights: an Olympic Provisions Panini that features mortadella, capicola, and more all sourced from the nationally known charcuterie just across the Willamette River, a Tillamook Cheese Grilled Cheese Station, Carlton Farms sourced meat for pulled pork sandwiches, Painted Hills Korean-style beef for a new Bahn Mi which also uses a Fleur de Lis Bakery baguette for the bread, and in another combination item, a Tillamook Mac ‘n Cheese Dog that is a Zenner’s quarter pound hot dog on a Franz bun smothered in Tillamook Mac ‘n Cheese.
“I’m really excited about the Mac ‘n Cheese Dog. It sounds funny, but it tastes great and is not as messy as it may look,” said Forsythe with a laugh. “I’ve been able to pick one up and eat it. We do serve it with a fork so I might suggest taking a couple of bites of the mac right off the bat.”
Also back this year are Portland-area food carts serving out of the southeast corner of the stadium in the Soccer City Grill. This season, four carts are featured in a rotating schedule that includes Big-Ass Sandwiches, Nong’s Khao Man Gai, Stumptown Dumplings and 808 Grinds.
“They’re four of the most popular carts in town. They have been since the beginning of this food cart revolution,” explained Forsythe.
Serving across Timbers and Thorns matches all season, fans will have numerous opportunities to sample them all. Pace yourself and enjoy.
Providence Park Signature Items: (** - New items for 2014)
- Timber Brat – Zenner’s brat wrapped in bacon on a Franz pretzel roll topped with Widmer beer braised onions (all ingredients produced within 3.6 miles of stadium).
- **Tillamook Cheddar Burger – All burgers in stadium served with Tillamook Cheddar cheese.
- Spinach & Feta Pastie (produced by Pacific Pie Co., 1.5 miles from stadium).
- Chicken, Broccoli, and Tillamook Cheddar Pastie (produced in-house).
- **Olympic Provisions Panini – mortadella, capicola, provolone, and sweet hot peppers on a ciabatta roll.
- Charcuterie Box (produced by Olympic Provisions less than 1 mile from stadium and in-house by Centerplate).
- **Truffled Waffle Fries – truffle oil, fresh herbs and Tillamook cheddar cheese over crispy golden waffle fries.
- Bacon Bleu Cheese Tots – tater tots topped with Oregon Bleu Cheese, crumbled Zenner’s bacon, chopped green onions, diced tomatoes, and chipotle ranch sauce.
- **Tillamook Grilled Cheese Station – specialty grilled cheese sandwiches change by the match featuring Tillamook cheeses and local breads.
- **Carlton Farms Pulled Pork - sandwiches and nachos, both topped with slaw.
- **Korean Beef Bahn Mi – tender Painted Hills Korean-style beef served with marinated veggies, fresh jalapeños, and sriracha mayo on a Fleur de Lis baguette.
- **Cheesesteak – Sliced beef, peppers, & onions smothered in our own Tillamook Cheese sauce on a Franz stadium roll.
- **Tillamook Mac ‘n Cheese Dog – a Zenner’s quarter pound hot dog on a Franz stadium roll smothered in our own Tillamook Mac ‘n Cheese.