Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the selected menus, as of Aug. 4.
When the nation’s best gymnasts roll through St. Paul this summer, they won’t be simply stopping by — they’ll be putting their own spin on the city.
The 2011 Visa Championships — USA Gymnastics’ national championships — will feature some of the country’s best athletes, who are working toward national titles and, perhaps, a spot on Team USA. During their visit in St. Paul (to both the Xcel Energy Center and Roy Wilkins Auditorium) in August, the group has a number of plans to connect with the community.
“One of our goals is to pretty much take over the city and make sure people know that we’re here, part of that is having businesses celebrate the fact that we’re here, as well as the people who are visiting, to celebrate St. Paul,” said Steve Penny, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics. “So it’s really a reciprocal relationship. The more the city demonstrates the awareness of our presence, the more the people who are coming feel welcome and really engaged in the business community.”
As part of that effort, restaurants within walking distance of the Xcel Energy Center will compete in a competition called, Taste of the Visa Championships. The competition asks local restaurants to create a special, healthy entrée or drink (it is for possible Olympians, after all) that will be featured on their menu during the Visa Championships in August. The restaurant with the best creation wins gold.
Each dish or drink should have a gymnastics theme and focus on nutritional values — lean meats, whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, etc.
Penny got a sneak peek of some of the creations last week and said it’s looking like it will be a tasty competition. Great Waters Brewing Company previewed their specialty menu item, which included a roasted duck breast entrée and a “Pummel Horse” cocktail.
“That was pretty neat for them to show us and Jonathon Horton, who is obviously one of our top male gymnasts, got to give it a little test run,” Penny said. “He thought it was pretty good.”
The group also plans to implement a number of green initiatives while in town, focusing on reducing waste and taking advantage of Xcel’s Windsource program. Penny said they are committed to make their stop in St. Paul the “greenest Visa Championships possible.”
The chosen restaurants for the Taste of the Visa Championships will be announced on June 27. The restaurants will likely unveil their new “gymnastics-themed” menus in July. The judging for the best menu will take place the week of the Visa Championships in August.
The 2011 Visa Championships begins Wednesday, Aug. 17 to Saturday, Aug.20. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
Check out the entrees, which were announced Aug. 4:
American Burger Bar, 354 Wabasha St.
Entrée: Heel Drive Burger – ultra lean bison burger on a toasted wheat bun, with fresh vegetables and a side of broiled asparagus and a baked Russet potato rolled in sea salt
Cork’s Irish Pub (Embassy Suites Hotel), 175 East 10th St.
Entrée: Soul Circle Curry with Uneven Chicken and Apple Bars – char-grilled chicken sausage served on Napa cabbage, apples, scallions, and garlic – mixed with curry sauce
Eagle Street Grille, 174 West 7th St.
Entrée: The Lemon Halibut Arabesque – served over spaghetti noodles with a side of fresh spinach and sundried tomatoes
Great Waters Brewing Company, 426 St. Peter St.
Entrée: Best All-Around Duck – grilled boneless, skinless duck breast over wild rice – served with diced carrots, steamed broccoli, grilled zucchini and a balsamic vinegar drizzle
Headwaters Café (Saint Paul RiverCentre), 175 West Kellogg Boulevard
Entrée: Flyway Frittata – duck breast, sautéed in olive oil with diced carrots, wild rice, and chicken stock – served with steamed broccoli, grilled zucchini, and a balsamic drizzle
Kincaid’s Fish, Chop & Steak House, 380 St. Peter St.
Entrée: Seared Scallop Salto – seared scallops in pea cream with radish and daikon sprouts garnish – served with a side salad tossed in vinaigrette dressing
Liffey Irish Pub, 175 West 7th St.
Entrée: Salto Salmon Penne – salmon fillet sautéed with diced garlic, shallots, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and served over penne pasta
M ST. Café (Saint Paul Hotel lower level), 350 Market St.
Entrée: Seared Salmon & White Bean Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette – sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with salt, and pepper
Pazzaluna Urban Italian, 360 St. Peter St.
Entrée: Arabesque Grilled Chicken with Fresh Whole Wheat Pasta – sautéed in olive oil with cauliflower, poached tomatoes, and garlic
Restaurant 11 (Crowne Plaza Hotel), 11 East Kellogg Boulevard
Entrée: Tumbling Seafood Salad – crab meat and shrimp on top of fresh greens, mixed with carrot ribbons, peppers, onions, tarot, and zucchini ribbons – served with mango citrus dressing and a cheddar biscuit
St. Paul Grill (Saint Paul Hotel), 350 Market St.
Entrée: Unparalleled Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad – served with potatoes, cooked green beans, sliced red onion, quartered boiled egg, anchovy, marinated tomatoes and olives
Sakura, 350 St. Peter St.
Entrée: 9.9 Almost Perfect – two pieces of salmon with the super white tuna – served with wasabi ginger, lemon and soy sauce
Senor Wong, 111 East Kellogg Boulevard
Entrée: The Round Off Chile Rellenos with a Double Back Smoked Chicken & Qiinoa Dismount – roasted poblano pepper stuffed with hot quinoa and smoked chicken, in a black bean puree with adobo sauce, guacamole moose, pico de gallo, and queso cotija
Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub, 258 W. 7th St.
Entrée: Pecan-Crusted Walleye – served over steamed wild rice with a side of poached sweet potatoes and fresh blueberries sitting in skim milk for dessert