We were given a menu and a warning.
When the Thunder invited members of the media to come to The Peake and sample all the new foods available to fans starting with Sunday's home opener, I accepted. You might say it was a free lunch — OK, technically, that's exactly what it was — but it gave me a whole new appreciation for the Food Dude.
It wasn't easy.
At first, it didn't seem so terrible. I mean, we started out with Stromboli. What could be bad about eating the Italian concoction with meats and cheeses stuffed inside bread? And the Stromboli from Red River Bistro near Section 110 on the southeast side of the main concourse was tasty.
But here's the deal — that warning about pacing ourselves was still ringing in my ears, so I only ate two bites.
I wish that restraint would've held up the rest of the day.
We moved then to the Center Court Carvery. It opened last season on the main concourse near the main entrance as part of the arena renovations, and its big feature is a buffet.
We got to sample prime rib and roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables and caprese salad, and while I'm sure all of it was good, I really only remember one thing — the ham.
I'm not particularly partial to pork, but whatever executive chef Andrew Murin and his people did to that ham made me forget the pace-yourself warning. I ate the whole slab that I'd been given.
But at least I didn't go back for more.
Next came two items that I wanted to try as soon as I saw the menu: armadillo eggs and glazed doughnut bread pudding. Both are now on the menu at Center Court Grill, the restaurant that's attached to Center Court Carvery.
(They take reservations, by the way.)
The armadillo eggs — thankfully but a bit sadly, too — aren't really armadillo eggs. They are peppers stuffed with brisket and cheese, breaded and fried.
And they are every bit as delicious as that sounds.
Ditto for the glazed doughnut bread pudding. Donuts by themselves are grand, but doughnuts as bread pudding might actually be even better.
Our tour of gluttony, er, arena food moved upstairs next. The Loud City level has a new grab-and-go spot this season. Located near Section 315 on the southeast side, Wing-N-It serves what its name suggests, but it goes beyond the standard wings.
There are several flavors. Classic Buffalo. Spicy Asian. Chipotle barbecue. Garlic Parmesan.
I'll save you the guesswork — garlic Parmesan is the answer.
It was good enough for me to eat an entire wing, and at that point, that was saying a lot.
Our final stops were on the club level, starting in the Sunset Club on the southwest side. Blue Pit BBQ there has smoked meats in all shapes and sizes, including a sandwich called the Thunder Stack that is about as big as my head.
But I would go with the garlic masher sundae. It's got your meats. It's got your potatoes. But it's served to look like a sundae. Mashed potatoes as the ice cream. Gravy as the chocolate topping.
Eat your heart out Ron Swanson.
I managed to eat a bite of each of the meats — the sausage was best — but even at that, I realized that I hadn't heeded the warning. I hadn't paced myself well enough.
And we still had one more stop.
The Tri State Lounge on the northeast side has a mojito quesadilla that is good, but frankly, I'm sure it's way better than I remember because by the time I took a bite of it, the last thing I wanted was anymore food.
Arena officials say that the best-selling food in every arena is the same. Popcorn. Hot dogs. Chicken tenders. Pretzels. That goes for Oklahoma City, too.
But The Peake expands and changes its menu more often than most because of Thunder fans. There are a ton of season ticket holders who attend 80 or 90 percent of games. That isn't the norm among NBA fans. But because it's the way Thunder fans do business, the arena has to work hard to give them a variety of food options.
I can attest — there is plenty of good stuff this season.
It was a stretch (primarily for my waistline) to try all that new food, but for you, Thunder fans, I did it.
For you, I made the sacrifice.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.
The Peake has a bunch of new food offerings for Thunder fans this season. Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson tried all of them, and here's a look at her top five:
1. Pit ham with smoke apple jack glaze, Center Court Carvery, $22.50 for the buffet or $14 for a sandwich.
2. Garlic parmesan wings, Wing-N-It, $9.50
3. Armadillo eggs, Center Court Grill, $9.
4. Stromboli, Red River Bistro, $8.50.
5. Muffaletta, Red River Bistro, $8.