THE BORGATA • Gamble Lounge Eat Repeat

The Borgata Water Club SunroomGypsy Bar at the BorgataMichael Mina Seablue, The BorgataSmoked Salmon Pizza at Wolfgang Puck

THE WATER CLUB AT BORGATA atlantic city, new jersey, 800 800 8817 click here for reservations

I CAN COUNT THE NUMBER OF TIMES I’VE BEEN IN A CASINO ON ONE HAND and, still, I’d only need two fingers. When I was twelve, I spent a weekend wandering Foxwoods with my mom and sister while waiting for my dad to beat his opponent in a chess tournament that’s hosted annually there. I was too young to gamble then, but even now I’m not inclined to. So what does a non-gambling, non-clubbing, and non-chess playing twentysomething do in a casino?

In March, the Borgata invited eight bloggers, including myself, to experience their Water Club hotel and fine dining restaurants in Atlantic City. In 48 hours I learned 1) eating is always an option. 2) lounging at one of Water Club‘s five picture perfect pools is too. And 3) Conan and Seinfeld will entertain you.

•  •  •  •

To the delight of my insatiable sweet tooth, we were invited behind-the-scenes of Borgata‘s pastry kitchen where former White House pastry chef Thaddeus Dubois chatted about George W. Bush’s love of pie. Chef Dubois also showed us how to make a chocolate bunny:

Izakaya at the BorgataIzakaya scallophttp://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/pNsgRsqKg-0&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0

The weekend focused on visiting and tasting dishes from each of Borgata‘s six name restaurants. Saturday began in the Water Club‘s Sunroom with a shot of blueberry mint Greek yogurt smoothie and a bite-sized tower of smoked salmon. It was then I decided smoked salmon is my new favorite food. This conviction was bolstered by smoked salmon with creme fraiche pizza at Wolfgang Puck American Grille where Executive Chef Aram Mardigian stretched and kneaded pizza dough before our eyes as we scooped Parmesan flatbread and pizza slices into our mouths.

I knew I’d never make it through the day if I didn’t pace myself, so I sampled everything, but devoured nothing. I helped myself to second bites of dishes I liked, but declined to clean my plate when it came to overly well-done filet mignon at Bobby Flay. But where Bobby falls short on steak – at least on that particular day – he compensates with a dramatic lobster bar and lounge area designed to accommodate large parties and facilitate “chance encounters” should that be what you’re looking for.

After our steak stop at Bobby Flay, we headed next door to SeaBlue where executive chef Anthony Amoroso modestly downplayed his Iron Chef triumph over Morimoto. “I was lucky to get an ingredient I was comfortable working with (branzino, a Mediterranean sea bass),” he said. I turned my focus on the trio of Seablue signatures before me: tuna tartare, pillowy lobster corn dog, and a kind of caviar parfait. Like Bobby Flay, where showy design elements trumped taste, SeaBlue‘s clubby, electric blue-and-lavender bar area, where we sat, is a little distracting. Then again, you would probably reserve a table in the main room, which is set apart from the bar, for dining.

Amoroso puts palates at ease with food to please everybody: shareable platters, “tasting trios”, red meat, and pot pies, in addition to the bivalves and crustaceans you’d expect to find. I like the idea of having a girl’s night out here. But, in practice, it’d be hard to hear you over the din on a Saturday night and a place called SeaBlue ought to be less cave-like; more open air.

The last restaurant stop, Izakaya, introduced live scallop (pictured left), chewy fluke usuzukuri, braised oxtail gyoza, and sweet Nigori sake into my life. At this point, I figured my stomach was filled with enough food to last a week, but when my fellow food blogger – raw fish-adverse Eric Smith of Geekadelphia – squirmed at the sight of yellowfin tuna, I happily cleaned his plate of sushi too.

• • • •

By hiring the likes of Michelin-starred chef Anthony Amoroso at SeaBlue and inviting food bloggers to experience the culinary offerings in Atlantic City, it’s obvious the Borgata team is working to elevate their dining experience above afterthought (and its current reputation as a way to pad stomachs for the drinks ahead). Coming from Manhattan, the Borgata is not a dining destination. But the convenience of having it all – Water Club‘s stunning spa and swimming pools, Wolfgang Puck‘s smoked salmon and creme fraiche pizza, a performance by the likes of Jon Stewart, and Izakaya‘s sparkling sake – under one massive roof makes the trip worth taking. amy may 10, 2009

• • • •

NOTES • I was joined at the Borgata by (my new favorite person) Jess Rossi of Fries With That Shake, Ben Kessler of super sandwich blog Unbreaded, endearing Eric Smith of Geekadelphia, Miss Elizabeth Halen of Foodaphilia and a professional cake baker, and Scott Reiner who pens The Wine Explorer for the New York Daily News.

The Aces Train provides direct train service between NYC and Atlantic City.

All photos are my own except for Immersion Spa pool and Borgata lobby photo.

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May 10, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Atlantic City, Blogs, videos.

2 Comments

  1. justcooknyc replied:

    whoa, that’s a pretty cool press event!

  2. Victoria replied:

    Great food at the Borgata. But that’s all that facility has to offer. Staff for casino, staff for the pubs and staff for the hotel need lessons in customer relations. So if you are going for the food, eat and be merry. AC has a lot to offer in that area. But if staying at Borgata, save your money because you can fly to vegas and stay at the Bellagio for the same dollars. Plus they have staff who are actually trained in customer service. Their 5 star rating must have been purchased if in fact that rating is still in tact.

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