An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Aug 22, 2013
03:20 PMThe Connecticut Table
New Haven Open Tennis Tournament as Dining, Imbibing Hotspot? Yes, Indeed
Arnold Gold/New Haven Register
The Drop Box Combo at the Caseus Cheese Truck - A grilled cheese with tomato, bacon and arugula served with whole grain dijon and pickles - at the New Haven Open at Yale on 8/21/2013.
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At one point during the New Haven Open at Yale tennis match Wednesday in which an under-the-weather Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark defeated Karin Knapp of Italy, guests seated on one side might have seen an exotic sight—a pair of Emirates Airline flight attendants, in their tan suits and signature bright red caps, from which a white silk scarf descends on one side, walking delicately in heels across the stadium’s upper deck.
The image points to just how cosmopolitan and international this U.S. Open warm-up women’s tournament is—and indirectly highlights how central and rewarding for guests are the Open’s cultural, entertainment and dining aspects.
Emirates, a Gold Sponsor of the tournament—the Presenting Sponsor is the bank First Niagara—presides over the glass-enclosed Emirates Garden Club, which not only offers a terrific view of the stadium court action but represents one of the best options for dining and imbibing at the Open, which wraps up this Saturday.
Tickets to all the remaining sessions are still available, and while top notch tennis among the finest women players in the world is the main draw, less obvious, perhaps, is the fact that the Open is a terrific day or evening out for those looking for a different type of lifestyle and dining experience.
Consider that the food court, a cozy area in which concession booths surround picnic tables and trees offer some shade, features a couple of Connecticut gems: The Cheese Truck of Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro in New Haven and the made-to-order crepes of La Petite France of West Hartford (shown at right).
“The grilled cheese truck is dynamite—and it’s a unique installation,” said tournament spokesman Matt Van Tuinen, who on Wednesday enjoyed a roast beef sandwich with horseradish sauce and an orzo pasta salad for lunch in the Emirates Garden Club.
“The pizza is pretty darn good,” too, said Van Tuinen, referencing an important consideration in one of the best pizza cities in the country, a city so blessed with great dining that a special Open initiative called the Mayor’s Passport to Downtown Dining allows the players to dine for free at lots of top New Haven restaurants (but more on that later).
The Caseus grilled cheese truck and the La Petite crepes cart are in a food court—located across (blocked off) Yale Street from the main stadium—that is strategically more consolidated than in past years when vendors were consigned to unused tennis courts beyond the area with the picnic tables. The goal was to create a more “lively” area that is more energetic and has some buzz going on.
With the cluster more confined and cozier, it’s easy to stroll around and visually sample options that include a large Joe Brandi Catering booth, a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream setup (a “big hit,” says Van Tuinen) and a Bud Light Lima-a-Rita truck, which purveys the national beer brand’s margarita with a twist—of Bud Light Lime.
One signature offering that’s new this year is the SVEDKA Vodka Lounge, where guests can enjoy a drink created specifically for the Open, the SVEDKA Orange Cream Pop Smash, which consists of SVEDKA orange cream pop vodka, white rum, orange juice and pineapple juice.