It’s that time of year again. Despite this lousy economy, those of us with light wallets can quit dreaming and actually get out to a restaurant, maybe even one with a celebrity chef or cutting-edge cuisine. I’m talking about Atlantic City Restaurant Week, set to start this Sunday, February 28th, going through until Saturday, March 6. Over 80 restaurants are offering special menus “prix fixe”: $15.10 a person for lunch and $33.10 per person for dinner. John and I were invited to the media kickoff event last night at the Harrah’s Pool, so of course we want to gab about it.
Just like last year, it was great to get some babysitting (my parents took the kids on a wonderland safari to the buffet, followed by lots of jumping on the beds in their hotel room) and pretend for a few precious hours that we are still a young, hip, sexy couple out to hobnob with sophisticates. And just like last year, there was an abundance of food stations doling out goodies from a variety of Harrah’s restaurants, and we had some good food conversations with some awesome people from the media and the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority (Karen, Elaine, and Maureen, you know who you are!). Food highlights included a crazy little tuna tidbit from McCormick and Schmick’s (raw tuna, crusted with rice cracker, dolloped with soy foam, and impaled on a little dropper filled with miso-red pepper sauce which you “inject” as you pop it into your mouth- I ate almost 10 of them), braised short ribs from “The Steakhouse”, and chili hot chocolate and exquisite Jacques Torres chocolates from Temptations.
But just like last year, I was disappointed that the media event was only a showcase for Harrah’s restaurants- no one else was represented, and as far as I know, no outside chefs were present. This was a disservice to the public, as there were media people with cameras taping interviews with the Harrah’s chefs present there, but with no representation of anyone else. As a food writer, I would have loved the opportunity just to talk with the vast array of chefs from the Atlantic City area, even if they weren’t set up to have a formal tasting of their dishes. I also had one other minor complaint-the waitstaff. They were wonderful as servers, but I always feel I’m in a go-go bar at the Harrah’s Pool- the “uniforms” were outrageously streetwalker-skimpy (although an improvement on last year’s string bikinis) complete with knee-high boots. Being that the event guests were comprised of 75% women, at least have a few buff bartenders or pool boys sans shirts to even things out a bit… When I pointed this out to John he told me I was “harshin’ his buzz”(as he sipped his Pepsi); a few comments on some of his vulnerable areas and that he has to go to sleep sometime, however, took care of that attitude pretty quickly.
Our picks to check out next week? Buddakan (crazy-good Asian fusion and oh, those little fried doughnuts…), Izakaya (so hip, so fun, sushi, sake and small plates of cutting-edge goodness), Knife and Fork Inn (not at all cutting edge, but sophisticated and amazingly delicious). We won’t be at these places next week, since we feel obligated to try something new every year, but we can vouch for our meals there last year. Now get out there and let us know about your experiences!