Since the Marist football team competes in the Pioneer Football League (PFL), which features colleges and universities in a variety of regions around the country, the broadcast team of Geoff Brault and Steve Eggink are exposed to the culture of cities around the country. More specifically: the food.
Every Friday before a road game the duo, who also call Marist women’s basketball together, has carried on a tradition to try different restaurants and experience the food culture for each respective city.
Opposing teams in the PFL are found in states such as Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida, all states known for being very meat-centric. As a result, Brault and Eggink not only enjoy some delectable cuts of meat each week, but also began to rank them at the different locations they experience.
“St. Elmo’s in Indianapolis is in my opinion number one. As far as I’m concerned, it’s as good as any steak you’ll find anywhere in the country,” said Brault.
“Geoff is really good at finding spots. As far as sending me down the wrong path regarding food, that’s never happened,” said Eggink. “The steak that we had Friday (Oct. 22) at St. Elmo’s, that was the best steak I’ve ever had in my life. Seriously, it was top shelf.”
The idea of even going to different restaurants and experiencing the food culture in different cities stemmed from the fact that Brault and Eggink always have their broadcast preparation completed by the time they board the plane for the weekend. This allows them some free time the night before the game; since the duo has an affinity for food culture, trying different restaurants every weekend when on the road was a natural means to kill some time, get out of their hotel for a little while, and take their mind off football– as well as their jobs– for a few hours.
Brault does his due diligence when it comes to finding the different restaurants they are going to try every weekend. The broadcaster spent time prior to traveling to the different cities looking through various cooking blogs and talking to acquaintances who have spent time in the area to determine the perfect destination. Even for a bit of a food connoisseur, Brault ironically admits he is not known for being much of a chef.
“I can’t cook at all,” said Brault. “Whenever my friends are having a dinner party or anything like that, my role in this is as an eater. That is all the skill that I have, I could set off a smoke alarm microwaving popcorn. I know full well what my strength is and it is definitely not in any sort of grilling or smoking meat of any kind; I am strictly in this for enjoyment.”
Eggink feels the opposite about his grilling abilities. “On the other hand, I know my way around my Weber grill. Now is it as good as we had at St. Elmo’s? No, but I do enjoy grilling in the spring and summer,” said Eggink.
The pair also cited the history and culture of the cities as an added benefit to trying different restaurants throughout the PFL. At some locations such as St. Elmo’s, the history of the city is somewhat built into the restaurant, given it has been operating since 1902. Additionally, many other restaurants they have visited are staples of their community.
“Last year we were at the Pine Club in Dayton,” said Eggink. “We sat down at the bar waiting for a table and a couple in their 70s asked if we had been there before, and we were making small talk. They pointed out a picture of President George W. Bush on the wall and they told us a story that Bush had his secret service detail come in asking for a steak from ‘the famous Pine Club.’
The story goes that the hostess told the secret service agent that it would be about a 45 minute wait. The agent was surprised by this response and insisted that this was the President of the United States, George W. Bush. Despite the opportunity to serve the President himself, the hostess still said he would have to wait 45 minutes. Bush waited for the steak.
As for the rest of the duo’s rankings, many steak houses were named in the top tier of restaurants they’ve experienced so far. The Pine Club in Dayton, The Butcher’s Tail in Minneapolis, and Tony’s in Lexington all were proclaimed as being in their upper echelon of restaurants in the PFL.
“The curveball for me is always San Diego,” Brault said. “There is a fish taco spot called Oscar’s Fish Tacos in Pacific Beach. It’s probably half the size of Rossi’s (a Poughkeepsie staple), with some picnic tables overlooking the Ocean and if you catch it right at sunset and you are sitting outside, having escaped a hopefully not-too-harsh northeast October. There is something pretty special about that experience and the fish tacos are outrageously good. That’s gotta get some consideration as well.”
While the PFL might not make any sense geographically, the eclectic mishmash of cities and towns makes for plenty of great food for Brault and Eggink to sink their teeth into.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane and Dan Aulbach
Photo from Geoff Brault