Friday, August 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Atlantic Club offers champagne dining for beer budgets

We Americans are pretty much wired to equate "discount" with a lack of quality or prestige. But it would be a mistake to apply that thinking to the three main restaurants at the Atlantic Club (formerly Atlantic City Hilton).

Atlantic Club offers champagne dining for beer budgets

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Chief Operating Officer Michael Frawley stands in front of the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, which is now offering gourmet restaurant experiences at diner prices. Photo: Associated Press

We Americans are pretty much wired to equate “discount” with a lack of quality or prestige. But it would be a mistake to apply that thinking to the three main restaurants at the Atlantic Club (formerly Atlantic City Hilton).

Earlier this year, the Atlantic Club, as part of its new strategy to become AyCee’s “locals” casino, announced it had significantly reduced prices at Patsy’s Trattoria (formerly Patsy's), its Italian eatery, Ono Chinese Bistro & Bar (formerly Ono), an Asian-centric outlet and the steak house, Simon AC (formally Simon Prime). The immediate (and unsurprising) reaction among some folks was that this strategy spelled the demise of gourmet dining at the casino-hotel that began life in 1980 as the Revel of its day, Steve Wynn’s Golden Nugget.

From a strictly financial perspective, this is true. Price points like the $8 now charged by Patsy’s for its clams casino appetizer, or the $17 for the double-cut pork chops at Simon AC puts these restaurants mostly on a par with your neighborhood pizzeria or diner. But while the prices have been slashed, little else has changed at the three rooms. That translates to the best dining value in Atlantic City.

It’s not just that there seems to have been no drop off in quality of the food (as a recent media tasting event suggested). By charging reasonable (if not exactly cheap) prices, diners whose budgets have heretofore precluded them from enjoying high-end casino meals, can now avail themselves of first-class experiences that include environments rivaling those of any casino restaurants.

For instance, Simon AC remains as chic and modern as any Borgata—or dare I say, Revel—offering. And Ono still boasts a magnificent ocean view in a bright, airy setting.

Also slashing prices is the Burger Bar, where a major beef-‘n’-bun dish can be had for as little as $5.

Bottom line: The Atlantic Club may not have the overwhelming grandeur of Revel, the sophisticated cache of Borgata or the many amenities of Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, but nowhere else in AyCee will you get more bang for your dining buck.

New spa is ‘Golden’

Continuing today’s theme of there-are-other-casinos-besides-Revel-in-AyCee, note that Golden Nugget has debuted its new Spa & Salon. The $6 million complex has all the usual amenities, including a full menu of massage and facial treatments, eucalyptus steam room, exercise machines (cardio and weights)  and beauty parlor (does anyone still use that term?).

Hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The public is invited to utilize the facility—for an unspecified “nominal fee” (according to the Nugget’s PR folks)—even if spa or salon services are not requested. For more, call 609-340-5001, or go to www.goldennugget.com/AtlanticCity/spa.asp.

Boston to AyCee

Not sure who, exactly, is going to be jazzed about this, but we’ll assume someone will be. The 1970s arena-rock outfit, Boston is set to play July 21 at Trump Taj Mahal. Prices for tickets, which go on sale April 21, are TBA. Check in a couple of weeks at www.ticketmaster.com.

About this blog
Philly native Chuck Darrow has literally covered Atlantic City’s casino scene since Day One: He was there on assignment the night in November 1976 when voters approved legalized casinos.

Since then, Chuck has covered the town and its gaming industry for several area newspapers -- which is why, in some circles, he’s known as “Boardwalk Charlie.”

You can reach Chuck at darrowc@phillynews.com.

Chuck Darrow