Hilton Goes Prime Time

Rock 'n' roll meets class cuisine at the new Simon Prime steakhouse

By Frank Gabriel
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jul. 7, 2010

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Simon Prime

Photo by Don Kravitz

When first hearing about Simon Prime — one of Atlantic City’s newest steakhouses and first local venture from high-profile chef Kerry Simon — we couldn’t help but wonder how it could possibly establish a unique identity in a town that has become replete with carnivorian shrines.

After dining in the initial month the restaurant existed, those questions have been answered.

Located within the Hilton Casino Resort’s remade and remodeled restaurant level, Simon Prime takes a playful approach to the often-too-serious steakhouse concept.

One of the first things you’ll notice are the servers clad in definitively old-school Chuck Taylor black canvas high-top sneakers.

You can’t help but smile.

Then, entering the glass-walled restaurant, its design and scale are not exactly what leaps to mind when thinking “steakhouse.”

And that seems exactly the point. The chef and management have conceived a wholeheartedly different niche.

Spread out across a single plane of floor, with only the centrally positioned maitre’d podium encroaching, the venue is simultaneously open yet intimate.

Booths covered with soft leather and steer hide create an atmosphere reinforcing the bill of fare.

Our opening salvo from the kitchen came in the form of oysters Rockefeller and Buffalo-style rock shrimp. Which brings us to another quirk about the menu; it’s softer and more feminine than perhaps any steakhouse we’ve visited.

Not wimpy feminine either folks. More like gorgeous, fiercely feminine.

Think Artemis, Greek Goddess of the Hunt (Apollo’s twin sis) and you’ll be on the right track.

The tiny coils of shrimp, well over a dozen, had been tossed in a psychedelic bright orange sauce, possessing just the right level of capsicum kick. Swirled around the edges was another sauce, this a cooling green-hued take on ranch.

My oysters were a trio of healthy bivalves, presented, like the shrimp, on a long, narrow plate. Loaded with a thick coat of what appeared to be panko breadcrumbs, they were flamed to a crusty golden brown.

Digging within, the classic combination of creamy spinach (Pernod?), salty bacon and buttery, tarragon-infused béarnaise sauce took over. There’s a reason certain dishes remain timeless in the truest sense of that word, and this version of Rockefeller demonstrates why.

From among about a half-dozen salads, we opted to split a lobster Cobb. Just like my oysters, this brought a stirring cover of a venerable standard.

Each of our plates contained plenty of lobster — my dining partner, the claw and myself, tail meat — plus a toss of field greens surrounded by chunked avocado, red and yellow tomato, bacon, soft-boiled egg and fragrant Roquefort.

As a main, my companion’s halibut fillet looked like the product of someone with the knife skills of an Apache warrior. A razor-sharp cube of white meat, cleansed of any residual blood line, pale ivory. The roasted flatfish remained moist, presented atop a divan of black rice, surrounded by roasted tomato and parsley/garlic chimichurri sauce.

Great to look at, satisfying to consume, thanks to the dense, hearty halibut.

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