The Sunday brunch at The Reserve inside Bally's Atlantic City has always been very good. Chef Joseph Muldoon and his staff have now made it stellar.
Since arriving at The Reserve, Bally's upscale seafood restaurant and steakhouse that boasts some great ocean views, Muldoon has really proven his chops, introducing diners to some amazing dishes. Now, he has done the same with the brunch.
Although the brunch still revolves around a buffet, offering everything from breakfast staples to gourmet entrees, The Reserve is the first to offer an additional a la carte tapas menu that is included in the $39.99 price tag, which also includes champagne.
"We've been doing the brunch for more than a year now, and I am really proud of how it has evolved, but I think the tapas menu has really put us over the top. I wanted to raise the bar. I have seen other brunches offer a menu, but then they don't have the buffet. No one in town has the combination of both."
For example, diners can still hit the brunch for items that include: breakfast staples such as blintzes, cinnamon french toast and omelets made to order; entrees including petite filet mignon, Norwegian salmon, Hawaiian tuna and Chinese specialties; seafood such as shrimp cocktail, oysters and clams on the half shell and fresh sushi; a made-to-order pasta station; a carving station with two meats such as prime rib or mint-pesto-rubbed rack of lamb; an array of salads, cheeses and meats; and an awesome dessert display from Chef Deborah Pellegrino with everything from truffles to chocolate-dipped strawberries to cakes.
But patrons can also order other items from the six-item tapas menu. Current selections include: chocolate Belgium waffle with fresh whipped cream and cherry compote; crabcakes Benedict with jumbo lump crabcakes on top of an English muffin with poached egg, honey mustard vinaigrette and diced tomato; smoked salmon with roasted potatoes topped with sauteed fennel; white corn grits topped with tender rock shrimp, smoked tomato and chorizo ragu with sharp farmhouse cheddar; Misoyake-glazed smoked sable with baby bok choi and shredded carrot slaw; and marinated crab claws in a champagne vinaigrette with diced cucumber Sunomono.
"The tapas menu is only a few weeks old, but it's been a hit," Muldoon says. "A dish like the smoked salmon is intriguing because you don't need much to enhance the flavor of the fish, but the spin we put on it is very unique and something you won't see anywhere else. And the chocolate waffle is something people eat during brunch or for dessert. It's about taking what you would normally expect at a Sunday brunch and hitting it out of the park. I like experimenting with a lot of great comfort foods and kicking it up so that people can relate to them and grow fond of them. It's a lot of fun."
If you want to spend a couple of extra bucks, The Reserve also features a Bloody Mary bar with unique concoctions including Manhattan clam, habanero and others.
The Reserve Brunch is served 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays and is priced at $39.99. Call 609-340-2350.
They weren't in Atlantic City, but Caesars Entertainment really brought out the stars last week to relaunch its Total Rewards program with a cross-country string of concerts and parties. In New York, Mariah Carey and P. Diddy performed, while Cee Lo Green, Lil' Wayne, Mary J. Blige, Maroon 5, Sarah Bareilles and Gavin DeGraw performed at other venues to promote the brand, which now allows people to earn Total Rewards points at retail stores around the country while also allowing players to transfer reward credits from one person to another.
To help promote the Atlantic City Rodeo - which takes place later this month - while offering some great educational value, Tropicana Casino and Resort employees and executives visited students at the Texas Avenue School in Atlantic City last week and brought some rodeo-themed books there to celebrate Read Across America week.
Students were treated to more than books, however, as a cowboy brought his horse to the event. After the students got to meet the cowboy and horse, the employees read books to each class, and students were also given cowboy hats, bandanas and more.
Cool Leap Year promo
Two pro skydivers jumped off the roof of Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa last week to celebrate Leap Year. The jump at Borgata was one of many across the country by the Red Bull Air Force, which also leaped off iconic buildings in Detroit, Miami and Las Vegas.
Head to Carmine's this week to celebrate Meatball Madness inside The Quarter at the Tropicana. The New York-based Italian restaurant will offer a complimentary order of six meatballs for every reservation of six or more diners. That's about a pound of free meat.
Carmine's is celebrating its delicious meatball - made with ground beef and veal, Romano cheese and herbs - through Sunday, March 11.
Make a reservation at 609-572-9300 and make sure you say "Meatball."
wraps this weekend
The World Series of Poker circuit event at Caesars Atlantic City, which continues to Monday, March 12, may have solidified Sarah Dygert as a poker player to reckon with.
The 23-year-old software developer from Alfred, N.Y., won the most recent circuit event, scoring her third victory in the past year. She topped 887 players to win more than $50,000 as well as her first WSOP circuit gold ring, dominating the later stages of the tourney.
The part-time poker player will play in the main event championship Saturday, March 10, to Monday, March 12. There are still a few more gold rings left to win during the round-the-clock tournament, which is awarding 12 rings in 12 days.
For more info and schedule, go to ww.wsop.com.
Taj Bad Beat hits
The Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort's Bad Beat Jackpot hit again last week as David Nicholas, of Whiting, had 4 jacks with an ace high beat by another player. Nicholas took home $75,840, with the winner securing $37,920. The six other players at the table won $6,320.
At The Shore Art Show
I want to thank everyone who came and enjoyed another success for At The Shore Art Show & Wine Tasting that was held at Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield.
The benefit by the Greater Atlantic City Concierge Association and the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority raised enough money to provide up to six scholarships for hospitality education. They will be awarded to students majoring in hospitality management at Richard Stockton College, Atlantic Cape Community College and Fairleigh Dickinson University on May 12 at the ACCVA Foundation's annual Host Awards at Boardwalk Hall.