Fine dining, a gourmet food court and celeb chefs highlight expansion offerings
Food, glorious food. When Oliver Twist sang about it on Broadway, his idea of good food was a bowl of porridge. Too bad neither Charles Dickens nor his hero could ever sample the great cuisine at the restaurants featured at Borgata's recent expansion.
When constructing the $200 million "Borgata Amplified" addition, owners Boyd Gaming and MGM Mirage attracted three high-profile chefs -- Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina and Bobby Flay -- to reaffirm their theory that customers want both good gaming and good restaurants.
Prior to the grand opening, the media was treated to a food-sampling event at the Borgata's three new signature restaurants: Wolfgang Puck's American Grille, Michael Mina's Sea Blue and Bobby Flay Steak. Each offered selections from their new menus and all three famed chefs were there to mingle with invited guests.
We began at Wolfgang Puck's American Grille. The restaurant's layout has three distinct dining areas. The casual front section offers a tavern menu, seating for 100 and an exhibition kitchen; the middle, more formal dining room accommodates 100 people. A private party room in back is available for approximately 50, and next to the giant main kitchen is a long table for 10 to 12 lucky diners to enjoy a specially prepared chef's table meal.
The unique California-style, autumnal décor features coated imported Chinese leaves on the front ceiling. Private semi-enclosed glass booths in the back have large hanging lampshades covering the lights. Chairs look and feel like rawhide leather.
Throughout the sampling and the media luncheon on opening day, a multitude of foods kept coming. From the tavern and dinner menu, guests tasted truffled potato chips with blue cheese, roasted beet salad with endive, arugula and goat cheese, two of Puck's famous pizzas (smoked salmon and tomato with cheese), Austrian spicy goulash, duck bratwurst, grilled Angus hamburger, pan roasted chicken with a potato puree, wiener schnitzel, lobster ravioli, mini crab cakes and my favorite, the seafood risotto with Maine lobster, shrimp, crab and shellfish. Each dish blends multiple ingredients for unusual flavors.
Everything served at Wolfgang Puck's American Grille is homemade, including the sorbets, pastries, cheesecakes and wafer crusts. Chocolate and fresh fruits are well used in the desserts.
Mina's Sea Blue has a sleek, sophisticated ambiance, made more interesting by the contrasting decors of the dining room and adjacent lounge. The lounge seats 40 and is decorated in cool lavender and silver, with modern silver ornamentation and a lapis floor.
The 168-seat dining room is decorated in vibrant reds, yellows and oranges, carried over to the booth seating's striped fabrics and the patterned carpeting. The chair backs have an interesting weave to them. Ten screens located throughout the rooms feature animated fish tanks.
|Bobby Flay brings his Bobby Flay Steak restaurant to Atlantic City.|
Sea Blue's menu is divided into cooking method sections, and daily shellfish is priced per piece. One specialty is the personal salad for $14. A diner may create an individual salad of 10 items, chosen from a list of 29 choices, and four dressings. The tagine -- or "Moroccan Clay Pot" -- menu has both meat and fish items. Who could resist the Hawaiian doughnuts with three dipping sauces, or the Root Beer Float with warm chocolate chip cookies or the Banana Tarte Tatin, floating in hot buttered rum, desserts? Not anyone at my table.
Bobby Flay Steak combines modern design with natural leathers, cast glass and hewn woods. We came in through a lined floor-to-ceiling red leather entry. The flooring in the dining/private party room for 208 is salvaged butternut mesquite end pieces with brass inlays.
We sat in the 57-seat lounge, which gives off a sense of being enclosed in circular brass "cage." The glass tables sit atop bunched bamboo stalks, and the chairs have a dark cork appearance. The rug feels like a tightly woven patterned combination of nylon threads.
The servers, dressed in sophisticated black, offered a lobster, corn and crab appetizer in a mango sauce, three versions of sliced steak with sauces and tangy key lime pie tartlets. Bobby Flay's menu includes four spice rubbed steaks and four steak specialty dishes. Lamb, chicken and fish are also on the menu.
The Lobster Bar showcases fresh lobster creations, enhanced by many of southern New Jersey's indigenous tomato, corn and produce products. A new interpretation of a steakhouse favorite is the AC Chopped Salad, made tableside, served with chicken, shrimp or lobster as an addition.
Also brand new at the Borgata is The Cafeteria, located on the lower level. Decorated in white and lime green, the gourmet food court features eight popular national and regional food outlets for a quick, inexpensive meal. The Cafeteria will surely satisfy any food craving, whether a visitor wants a Philly cheese-steak from Tony Luke's, a handmade salad at Lettuce Head, hamburgers from Fatburger, as well as pizza, ice cream, Asian delicacies or just a quick break for a refreshing glass of wine or a beer.
Also, the Borgata operates its own 30-seat Bread and Butter café, with a cafeteria-style line of pastries, sandwiches and light dishes. A full array of premier coffees, espresso drinks, organic ice teas and a decadent Frozen Hot Chocolate drink complement the menu.
There is no need to go hungry at the Borgata. Throughout the original and the "amplified" areas of the building, casino guests have a choice of several upscale and casual venues.
For more information visit www.theborgata.com or call 317-1000.
There are some events in life mandatory in attendance and others that remain optional. Then there are those rarest moments, to paraphrase Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone in The Godfather, when you are made an offer you simply cannot refuse.
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