Golden Nugget’s Vic & Anthony’s steakhouse fills the bill with fine fare served in a modern, elegant atmosphere.
If there is any one quality that defines great cooking, it just might be courage. Restaurateurs are largely by nature risk-takers, willing to push and prod their enterprises forward.
Such was the case on a recent evening at Golden Nugget’s proprietary steakhouse, Vic & Anthony’s, under the direction of executive chef Norman Reola. Named for parent company Landry’s CEO Tilman Fertitta’s father and uncle, there is an unwavering sense of careful attention coupled with unusual creativity evident here.
As befits, my meal began with an item rarely found on menus locally, quail. Specifically, a maple and chipotle glazed version of that tiny game bird.
It arrived, shiny and glistening, coated by dark brown sauce clinging superbly. Beyond the tangy sweet/hot flavors provided via syrup and pepper, we really loved presentation. The quail had been proficiently butchered, arriving as a sets of wings, tiny, succulent drums and bigger-than-expected hunks of clean tasting breast meat.
Ringed by a mound of dressed, cooling greens with dotted stripes of sriracha at plate’s edge, we found ourselves gnawing all the sweet, tender flesh from those delicate bones.
One of the very finest items we’ve sampled this year.
Our dining partner went with a house signature app, crab and shrimp campechano. Served in an oversized martini glass, the seafood — blended with a spicy tomato salsa and diced avocado — created a seviche-influenced experience. Like my starter, this wasn’t a dumbed-down dish designed to cater to unadventurous palates. Instead, the heat grew as she dug down into diamonds of white crab and pink shrimp. A handful of fried plantain strips rode shotgun serving nicely to convey the seafood, bringing crunch plus exotic sweetness.
The evening’s soup, roasted poblano, was similarly crafty. Poblanos are our favorite pepper, possessing a Jekyll-and-Hyde ability to be sweet and fragrant as bells one bite, then tart, mildly hot or even slightly bitter next. Blended with a cream base, the dairy richness served as a merry counterpoint to the complex pepper — called an “ancho” when dried — and its dynamic nature.
Our smooth-as-silk server sold us on another special, a nightly salad creation. This combined bright green leaves of baby spinach tossed with artichoke hearts, olives, cherry tomatoes and diced hardboiled egg. Ladled with citrus-honey vinaigrette, these ingredients harmonized, each offering a slightly different flavor and textural perspective.
In the pleasant moments allowed prior to entrée delivery, we got an opportunity to focus on the room. Vic & Anthony’s is not your typical wood-toned, clubby, overtly masculine steakhouse atmosphere. Instead, the ambiance is decidedly modern, yet simultaneously chic, elegant and comforting. Like much of the changes accomplished at Golden Nugget since their remake of this former Trump property, the place exudes class without being overbearing, pompous or stiff.
Another out-of-the-box offering was shrimp pappardelle with spicy tomato butter. The wide ribbons of noodle — clearly fresh pasta made in-house — were feather-light and full of spring. If you ever wondered about the meaning of the Italian phrase “al dente” this pasta serves as a real-time definition. The five jumbo shrimp were presented standing up as if in salute to the airy pappardelle. It was another pleasant surprise from a kitchen clearly not content to rubber-stamp or duplicate the standard cuisine of this popular dining genre.
But this is, after all, still a steak house.
Leading nicely to my entrée, a prime 16-ounce strip. The beef, ordered and delivered Pittsburgh rare, proved hearty and satisfying. Even Fertitta — a native of Galveston, Texas — would have been thrilled by this robust cut. Crusted simply with salt and pepper, the steak was allowed to speak unencumbered. Its center, pink and slightly cool, spoke softly of the grassy fields where this steer had lived.
Sides we selected were large enough to share, sea salt fries and creamed spinach. Potatoes arrived in French fashion, crisp and hot inside a conical delivery device.
Any notion that the Golden Nugget intended to sit back in the shadows and allow Revel to bask in the limelight alone is one that will be thoroughly dispelled this weekend.
Golden Nugget encouraged its guests, through a variety of construction-related promotions, to be part of the sweeping makeover that actually began a few weeks before the casino’s parent company, hospitality industry giant Landry’s Inc., purchased the former Trump Marina for $38 million.
Ever since Tilman Fertitta, CEO of Landry’s Inc., took over the former Trump Marina last May and brought back the Golden Nugget brand to Atlantic City, the casino’s slogan has been, “Watch the Transformation.” Now the transformation is complete, and the Golden Nugget is throwing a four-day party April 26-29 to celebrate with its official Grand Opening Kick-Off Weekend.
Some of the qualities that allowed Tilman Fertitta to reach the apex of the business world, and transform Landry’s Restaurants Inc. into a conglomerate worth nearly $4 billion, he seems to carry around like a set of car keys.
Chef Tim Davis, of Caesars Atlantic City’s Seven Star Lounge, recently prevailed at an in-house corporate national burger challenge involving several hundred competitors from restaurants around the country called the Best Burger Battle 2012.
Veteran pizzeria owners Carlo Citera and wife Tina opted for a decidedly different approach for their latest pie purveyor, Carluccio’s, at the busy Northfield intersection of Tilton and Route 9.
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