Whenever you approach “Jerry World,” aka AT&T Stadium, there’s nothing modest about its ambitions. It’s all in grand, fourth-down-and-we’re-going-for-it style.
And so it goes with the size — nearly 20,000 square feet, accommodating hundreds of diners — of the Stadium Club restaurant, the 2-month-old eatery aimed at serving a mix of Cowboys-jersey-clad tourists and local families, as well as blue-blazered businessmen, all hankering for a side order of Cowboys atmosphere garnishing their midday or evening meal.
With its recessed lighting burnishing darkly upholstered booths, Stadium Club won’t inspire comparisons to some generic sports bar (though it does boast 23 TVs with 65-inch screens). Rather, it feels more akin to a softly lit, loungey retreat where perfectly modulated soft and classic rock by John Denver and Foreigner filters in from discreetly placed speakers.
Stadium Club’s interior has spared little budgetary expense. Witness the ebony red oak employed for wainscoting; the state-of-the-art, LED-lit screen backing the hostess stand; bars carved out of black granite; and seven transparent cases filled with all manner of Cowboys memorabilia — all creating a high-gloss altar to the Cowboys and the sports enthusiast.
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Since its Sept. 26 opening, the Stadium Club has been under the guidance of chef Anthony Van Camp, who has designed a highly manageable 40-item menu where he tweaks and subtly alters the notion of a Texas-inspired bar menu. Stadium Club also parts with sports-bar tradition with a retro craft-cocktail menu.
It’s almost de rigueur that the Stadium Club offer such familiar starters as chicken tenders and quesadillas, along with salads, burgers and chicken sandwiches. What is borderline stunning is how reasonably priced this stadium-based menu is, with items ranging from $8 to $15.
Indiana-born, DFW-raised chef Van Camp is a fierce proponent of adding copious amounts of time to his cooking of certain Club favorites — such as the brisket tacos ($9). Using the same mesquite-filled smoker technique employed in the stadium’s preparation of its brisket dishes, Van Camp rubs a mix of coffee and cocoa onto his several hundred pounds of certified Angus beef brisket, which is then smoked for 12-18 hours daily. The tacos’ brisket, clearly the dish’s star, dances harmoniously with cilantro, onions and a squirt of tart lime.
Of the four flatbreads, the Roma ($11) held out the most promise of ping-ponging flavors of spicy sausage, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, and the spicy warmth from Calabrian chiles. But just as vital, this flatbread boasted a crust with just the right chew, and a blistered surface.
It would be a glaring omission not to sample the Club’s “Legendary Double Burger” ($15). This burger was built on an egg-onion bun, supporting the perfect meat-to-marbled-fat ratio of twin Wagyu beef patties. It came with a melted slice of Monterey Jack cheese, and a Sriracha-fueled aioli sauce. But the burger’s self-effacing star was an onion jam: Some of the most marmalade-luxurious, umami-rich onions ever tended by local kitchen hands.
The Stadium Club panini ($13) was a beguiling study in contrast, with its creamy avocado and mayonnaise interior, tinged with the slight acidic punch of tomato, the crunch of lettuce and the snap of bacon, all housed in a grilled jalapeño- and cheddar-studded brioche bread. Though the slightly limp bread should have been toastier, it still boasted its buttery, brioche pedigree with panache.
The tweaked classic side that most tickled my taste buds were the thick batons of fries — and make sure to request the “AVC” ketchup with them. Like a latter-day court painter, Van Camp has affixed his initials to the ketchup simply because of his personal, Indian curry-scented take — melding brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, jalapeños, ginger, cardamom and cumin — on the classic American condiment.
Of the seven sweets on the newly updated dessert menu, the sugar-and-cinnamon-dusted churros, each with a silken vein of condensed-milk-infused dulce de leche ($7), all but leaped off the page beseeching me to order and devour it.
That the Stadium Club features as one of its marquee desserts a Latin American street-food classic speaks volumes about how this restaurant wants to overturn expectations while tickling and teasing the taste buds of scores of Cowboys fans, along with those other fans of an enticing meal, at a reasonable price, in a striking setting.
Looks like Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will need to make room for yet another rookie sensation making a splash at AT&T Stadium.