Three months after Stephen Starr pulled out of the Chelsea Hotel in Atlantic City, Chelsea Prime is proving that it can thrive without the leadership of the famed Philadelphia restaurateur's management.
It helps that the Chelsea, which is owned by Curtis Bashaw's Cape Resorts Group, retained the services of Food and Beverage Director Thomas Von Muenster and Chelsea Executive Chef Jason Hanin to make the transition seem flawless.
But the Starr departure certainly has had an impact in many ways.
"When Starr first pulled out, we had people showing up saying, 'Oh, you're still here? We thought you went out of business,'" Hanin says. "It was on their minds, and people tend to gossip. But the bottom line is that nothing has changed when it comes to the quality of the food and the purveyors we're using and the way we're cooking the food. We're still here offering the same great meals people have come to expect."
Von Muenster says the Chelsea is actually motivated by the change.
"We have a focus on the entire hotel and its food and beverage operations," he says. "We received a great foundation from Starr, and what we are doing now is combining all of our resources to improve and develop Chelsea Prime, Teplitzky's, our banquets and everything else. The core values are still the same. We still go through an intense process when it comes to our food, but we plan to use Jason's creativity more than ever."
For starters, Chelsea Prime, which immediately became one of the best steakhouses in Atlantic City when it opened in 2008, will offer more special events, like a recent cigar dinner that was recently held there.
It also introduced a $45 prix-fixe menu that is offered daily. A sample menu includes a choice of three appetizers (chicken vegetable soup and drop dumplings, Hudson Valley foie gras or imported artisinal cured meats and cheeses), choice of two entrees (marinated skirt steak or orecchiette pasta and porcini mushroom with smoked duck, green peas and cream) and a chef's dessert of the day.
"We wanted to do a prix-fixe menu right and not just as an afterthought," Hanin says. "The whole idea is to give people an awesome deal with the same great food they've come to expect here. I change the menu every week and a half or so, and it has been received positively."
Chelsea Prime will use the prix-fixe menu to test the market and introduce dishes that may end up on the spring menu.
"Chelsea Prime is known for its great cuts of meat, which is a simple, yet sophisticated," Von Muenster says. "But we are now feeling like we have to become a little more female. We are not going to lose our focus from providing excellent steak, but we are looking to add more items to make the menu approachable and lighter. Jason's creativity will enable him to offer some great seafood dishes and cater to customers' needs that will also be reflected in price and approachability."
Chelsea Vice President of Marketing Jane Mackie says Chelsea Prime will also expand its bar menu and make the entire Chelsea Prime experience more flexible.
"We have made the space available for private functions, even when it is scheduled to be closed," Mackie says. "Jason prepared a dinner for 14 by the fireplace in our Living Room. And we notice a lot of people eating at the bar, enjoying sliders and a bowl of bisque, and we would like to expand those small plates and encourage people to eat multiple courses with a more broad selection."
Chelsea Prime is open 5 to 10 p.m. Thursdays, to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Hours change seasonally. Call 800-548-3030 or go to www.thechelsea-ac.com.
'Avatar' opens at IMAX
James Cameron's latest sci-fi epic, "Avatar" is supposedly mind-blowing when it comes to its amazing special effects. (See review on Page 22).
But locals will be able to see how Cameron really envisioned the movie to be seen at the IMAX at the Tropicana, where "Avatar" is being screened in digital 3-D.
A midnight pre-screening will be held Thursday, Dec. 17, before opening officially on Friday, Dec. 18.
"Avatar" will screen at the Trop through Feb. 25.
AJ Lamas, son of beefy '80s star Lorenzo Lamas, showed he was a party animal at Dusk on Tuesday night. The star of his own reality series, "Leave it to Lamas," spent the night at the Caesars Atlantic City nightclub drinking Jack Daniels straight from the bottle. Yikes!
Lamas was mobbed by the ladies all night and he offered a profanity-laden shout-out to DJ Jesse Marco, and the crowd went nuts.
Erick Sermon, also known as Erick Onassis, showed up to party at Dusk on Tuesday, too. Best-known as half of the '80s and '90s hip-hop group EPMD, also seemed to dig the sounds of Marco.
Trop holds Fan Appreciation Day
The Tropicana will hold its first Fan Appreciation Day on Friday, kicking off 12 days of specials that are exclusive to fans and followers of the Tropicana on Facebook and Twitter.
Pick up a Fan Appreciation Day Passport at the Diamond Club Center, and the Trop will offer new members a chance to receive $25 in EZ Slot Dollars and specials in the Rumba Lounge.
Also, Fan Appreciation Day specials will be offered at Carmine's, Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, A Dam Good Sports Bar, Providence and more.
Fans and followers will also receive a 20 percent discount off the $75 regular room rate on Friday, and the $115 rate on Saturday with the code TFBTW.
On top of that, sign up at the Diamond Club Center for a chance to win a Wii gaming system.
Students perform at Caesars
Students from Atlantic City's Sovereign and Richmond avenues schools will perform celebrate the holiday season 2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22, with a music program in front of the Christmas tree in the Caesars Atlantic City lobby.
The program is hosted by The Friends of Music, a a group of local businesses formed to enhance the music education of Atlantic City school children through the purchase of musical instruments and exposure to the performing arts.
Running of Santas successful
The Running of the Santas annual event returned to the Tropicana Casino and Resort on Dec. 12, and was as successful as anticipated.
More than 200 runners, many dressed in Santa Claus costumes, were led by Hooters girls from the Boardwalk to The Quarter, ending at A Dam Good Sports Bar.
Aside from having a blast, the runners helped raise money for Alex's Lemonade Stand.
Morton's introduces new programs
Morton's The Steakhouse, located inside Caesars Atlantic City, is offering loyal diners the chance to experience the critically acclaimed steakhouse's cuisine without dining inside the restaurant.
It's kind of odd to think that a gourmet steakhouse like Morton's is offering takeout, but that's exactly what it's doing.
"Now, our guests don't only come to us, we come to them. It's the epitome of quality and convenience, bringing a Morton's meal direct to their homes," says Michael Flannelly, general manager of Morton's the Steakhouse, Atlantic City.
With "Morton's-To-Go," guests can call in their order and then pick up their meals to enjoy them in their own dining room. Or for bigger parties, Morton's off-site catering offers many of Morton's signature dishes delivered to the event.
Morton's is also offering the public to make Morton's steaks at home. The arrangement comes through a deal between Morton's and Allen Brothers, the Chicago-based meat company that provides Morton's with its cuts of meat previously only available at Morton's.
For more information, call 609-449-1044.
Discounts in December
For those who love to shop-and even those who don't. Sunday, December 6, Tuesday, December 22 and Wednesday, December 23 are must-shop days at Trump Exchange and in the Trump One Rewards Catalog. Select items are 20% off on December 6 and a whopping 30% on December 22 and 23. These three special days were designed to help you get your loved ones (and yourself) the hottest gifts at a reduced rate. From electronics to housewares to accessories and even exciting travel experiences, you'll find the stuff you love, all in one place-and at a great discount. So visit us on these discount days and use your Comp Dollars to shop, shop, shop!