Playing in online casinos brings so much fun but if you want a new experience, you must visit Las Vegas.While in the old days Vegas was known for shrimp cocktails and discount buffets, Atlantic City did even worse. Yeah, yeah, it was perfect if you happen to like salt water taffy. Ditto for hot dogs and burgers, eaten while strolling the Boardwalk. Yet great catering? Not really-and definitely not before the casino era, except for a few houses of seafood that only came to life during the summer months.
One of the newest restaurants in the Tropicana, Avanti will have purists celebrating with its menu exclusively dedicated to Southern Italian cuisine (the dishes are even classified by region). You will find mushrooms and anchovies baked in parchment nowhere else in Atlantic City, artichoke halves stuffed with ricotta, or codfish marinated in lemon juice and sautéed in the style of francaise. And that’s just appetizers. The cozy space also features a good selection of pasta (check the penne with pancetta, fennel and puree of fresh fava beans, or the more traditional orecchiette with garlic, olive oil and broccoli rabbit), with main courses ranging from a plain range of cannelloni or veal scaloppini with prosciutto and mozzarella to grilled whole sea bass or rabbit braised in red wine, basil and rosemary. All this plus a well-chosen range of Italian regional wines makes Avanti one of the city’s most enticing Italian restaurants, winning top marks for its authenticity premium.
People are still flocking to this kitsch of food and special effects twice-nightly orgy, and now that the Las Vegas version has closed, it’s up to Caesars Atlantic City to keep the temple fires burning. Of course, the traditional Bacchanal elements are still there— the goddesses of wine who pour libations from an impossible height, the co-massages after the entrance (in Vegas, they used to be guys only), the entrance to the fanfare from Caesar and Cleopatra, and four to six courses of surprisingly good food, from the olive, cheese and vegetable crudite that starts off to the flaming bananas that mars the beginning.Entrees change seasonally but for everyone the variety is typically diverse enough. Speak of it with a twist as dinner theatre.
Seek any big retrofits later this year. In addition to upgrading the furniture, there will be an ongoing display at the Bacchanal so visitors are not tied up in just two seating times. Maybe that means a return of the edition of Vegas won’t be far away.
Bokoo Grille, Sands
The hip and trendy new Bokoo Grille is replacing China Moon at the Sands, a restaurant inspired by New Orleans as much as Bangkok, with drunken Mardi Gras swirls of purple, gold and green, glass beads hanging from the ceiling and a vaguely alien sense of unworldliness. The food is good, if on the eclectic side. Thai chicken salad wraps are spiced with vinegar and red onions, spicy Singapore rice noodles are infused with yellow curry and overlapped with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts, and fettuccini jambalaya offers the Cajun collection of shrimp, chicken, peppers and spicy Andouille sausage.
So where else can you get iceberg lettuce salad that is eaten with baked tofu so peanut satay dressing? Or even reuben a pork chop?
Top entries are the savory Thai seafood wrap in foil, cooked slowly in coconut milk and red curry, and open sliced tableside. Of course, this is a twist on the French method of cooking en papillote, in parchment, which seals with a minimum of fat in all the juices and flavours. Some winners include a grilled flounder in ginger and sesame oil with ground pork and the Vietnamese skewered veal loin, eaten like a shish kabob with Asian spices. Quite incremental, and very imaginative.
Brighton Steakhouse, Sands
A redone of the original. The new look of Brighton is sleek and chic, like an upscale restaurant in Manhattan, with mellow, Deco lighting, funky privacy mini-walls and exquisite patterned wood blends. The lobster popcorn starter is a must, though the Brighton seafood bake (which together with other goodies gives a taste of the lobster) is also fantastic. On a steakhouse menu, you don’t often see turkey paillards (or whole baked sea bass with root vegetables, for that matter), but this is representative of the trendy new Brighton! That said, if you want it to be steak, it’s steak which they have. The 18-ounce rib bone eye leads meat lovers to tears.
Champagne Charlie’s, Showboat
Champagne Charlie’s is a sleek and beautiful, light, feminine space with pale salmon and ecru colours, floral tapestry seatbacks and sage rugs. Oversized hurricane lamps cast a pale glow from wrought iron chandeliers, height is created by leggy floral arrangements, and the walls are covered with Parisian murals and Toulouse-Lautrec posters framed.
The menu is tiny but full. Whether it is a shrimp cocktail served with an Absolut citron sauce or fresh oysters served with a classic champagne mignonette, Seafood is certainly the appetizer of choice here. Mussels are doused with a modern lemongrass, ginger and leek sauce, inspired by Thailands. The almond-crusted grouper entry with key lime reduction and fragrant basmati rice is a Caribbean experience, and the parmesan-crusted shrimp is eaten with white risotto truffle and plum tomatoes soaked in fruity olive oil.
Steaks, whether the 24-oz, take top spot on the menu. Bone-in ribeye (called a “paddle steak”), 20 oz. Porterhouse, a rib eye with caramelized pearl onions, button mushrooms, honey and a reduction in balsamic vinegar, or the exceptionally rich Texas sirloin strip, served on tobacco onions and overlaid with fried oysters and béarnaise sauce.
The Deli, Harrah’s Atlantic City
The Deli at Harrah’s is better than ever, with its new location and snazzy urban theme. Guests stroll through Colonial Philadelphia’s gardens before landing unexpectedly at Manhattan’s Theater District and Central Park. The 166-seat deli offers much the same typical menu of chicken soup with matzo balls, potato latkes, fried kreplach, stacked sandwiches and a special chicken in the bowl. If it’s not on this menu then it’s not deli.
Dynasty, Trump Taj Mahal
The decor is upscale but attractive Cantonese, with red-lacquered filigree woodwork and gold dragons, dominated by softly glowing chinese lantern chandeliers. With all the classic beef, chicken, duck and fried rice dishes, the menu offers a wide selection of straightforward interpretations of Cantonese cuisine. The more daring need to hunt only so far as the marinated fried squab with shrimp chips, delicate shark fin soup, whole sea bass steamed with ginger and scallion, abalone with Chinese black mushrooms and sea cucumber, or the luscious lobster vermicelli. A new sushi bar offers a good range of traditional sushi fare, with a good variety of maki rolls in California style, and perfectly fresh fish.