The Taj Mahal’s newest dining addition, Robert’s Steakhouse, is destined to take its place among the city’s best.
Atlantic City’s steak house marketplace is as crowded and competitive as any dining category to be found anywhere. With headline names like Old Homestead, Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris and Bobby Flay, it’s a fast track of real industry players.
Which makes the auspicious debut of our latest entry — Trump Taj Mahal’s glossy New York City transplant Robert’s — all the more attention grabbing. We visited twice during their opening week and went away marveling at both the lusty cuisine, directed by executive chef Will Savarese, as well as the staff’s exemplary level of white-glove service.
Robert’s physical space, carved from part of a former high-rollers club, is masculine and mirror-filled, creating the illusion of a larger room. It’s warm and inviting, without a hint of pretension, a real food lover’s enterprise.
We began our review meal with oysters, specifically six West Coast Kumamoto varietals. Clean, fresh and icy-cold, they arrived sided by a superb mignonette, thick cocktail sauce and grated horseradish. The bivalves themselves were expertly shucked — no small feat considering their deep cup-like shells — and loaded with briny aquatic taste.
House signature Robert’s salad delivered a creative twist on the Italian standard cold seafood salad so popular in the metropolis to our north. This featured a half-dozen whole steamed shrimp plus a small lobster tail, presented standing up for full dramatic effect. Blended with these oceanic proteins were thin, tender green beans — haricots verts to the French — along with tomatoes plus a surprise guest star, diced mango. That tropical fruit was also utilized in the dressing, complimenting the sexy seafood.
We’ve said it before and it bears repeating: make a dish your specialty and it better be just that. This heaping plate lives up to that axiom. But even a simple salad of mixed baby greens was an elevated creation. Fresh herbs — we noticed parsley, basil and chives and were informed by Savarese of tarragon and celery greens — along with an assertive shallot vinaigrette added depth to these leafy vegetables.
My dining partner’s main, one of four seafood entrees, was seared sea scallops. A trio of large, pearly white day boat quality mollusks were perfumed by citrus and prettily plated surrounding baby carrots. The scallops were nicely caramelized, but still creamy and dense in their middles.
Robert’s selection of beef includes filets — in eight- or 12-ounce portions — plus New York strip, rib eye, porterhouse and Gold Label Kobe strip steaks. All are dry aged in-house for upwards of 30 days, making this one of very few establishments regionally to provide this sort of spa treatment for gourmet meat.
And it shows, my choice, boneless rib eye, probably topped out at close to 20 ounces of hefty beef. This is despite that aging process, which inevitably results in weight loss via evaporation. The major upside to that aging, however, is an unbelievably intense concentration of flavor, which manifests. Those glorious results were readily evident from my first bites — this steak was nothing short of spectacular.
Ordered and delivered at a perfectly pink rare, the rich, fatty cut also possessed an awe-inspiring, no-knife-required, buttery texture.
After a few thick, initial cuts, we contented ourselves with shaving the succulent beef razor-thin, then sampling it doused with a thoughtfully provided quartet of sauces. Our favorites were a timeless green peppercorn au poivre and a lighter-than-air bernaise, fragrant with just a hint of licorice from thin strands of tarragon.
Savarese, whose resumé reads like a directory of New York’s iconic restaurants — La Cote Basque, Aureole and Le Cirque among them — was similarly kind enough to supply us numerous sides. Creamed spinach ate more like a classic souffle, elegant and dreamy without an abundance of heavy dairy influence. Sauteed mushrooms, an ideal compliment to any steak, brought crimini, shiitake, oyster and royal trumpets, all wilted soft but not rendered dry.
“Everything” fries were the potato equivalent of heaven — seasoned with coarse salt and pepper, garlic and sesame seeds. A smoked paprika aioli for dipping added another level of silken indulgence. Another defining element at Robert’s is their encyclopedic compendium of desserts, ably constructed by pastry chef Bruce Connell. Jr.
To begin the holiday season, we asked some of the Atlantic City-Cape May region’s finest chefs to provide us with a few of their favorite recipes, easily translated for non-professional cooks. Have fun trying them out in your kitchen.
Robert Gans knew he was taking a gamble when he decided to open a Robert’s Steakhouse in Atlantic City. However, he could never have expected an unwelcome visit by Hurricane Sandy, just when he was launching the opening of his new restaurant.
Atlantic City’s dining renaissance includes an amazing number of quality steakhouses, but that local competition doesn’t intimidate restaurateur Bob Gans. Gans, owner of the award-winning Robert’s Steakhouse of New York. Gans is bringing his steakhouse brand to the Trump Taj Mahal, with a scheduled opening in late October.
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