Always creative and innovative, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa recently unveiled another great place to grab a bite and drink when it debuted 28 West Bar and Bites in the former SeaBlue by Michael Mina location.
"When SeaBlue closed, it was only natural to keep that busy corner open, and we have always seen a need for a bar with great food, especially since it is adjacent to the casino floor," says Senior Vice President of Operations Joe Lupo. "And that space has always been accessible and welcome to clientele looking for a place to eat and grab a drink before or after a show. So we took the initiative to step up and provide a good product there."
Longtime Borgata visitors will hardly see any difference from the former SeaBlue lounge, with good reason. It remains a gorgeous space designed by renowned architect Adam Tihany with its multi-blue-colored theme, layered textures, ultracool bar and comfy lounge seating. The only noticeable difference is that the dining room has been walled off to create a more intimate atmosphere.
"It's such a beautiful space, we weren't looking to do an overhaul," Lupo says. "But we will be making some changes in the next four to six weeks to have a more accessible opening, to take out a big round banquette and add a bigger community table, and we will probably add a piano to make it more of a destination before and after the show with quality entertainment. It won't be jazz piano or something that will put people to sleep, but something engaging and fun."
Borgata Executive Chef Thomas Biglan teamed with Vice President of Food and Beverage Becky Schultz and Wine Director Anjoleena Griffin-Holst to create a fun culinary experience that offers relatively light bites, a great craft beer list, signature cocktails and a stellar wine list.
The affordable menu features about 12 selections, separated into chilled and hot sections. Standouts include Salad 28 ($10) with petite lettuce, frisee, pears, tomatoes, watermelon radish, cranberries, grapes, green apple, Romano cheese and Muscatel vinaigrette; artisanal cheese and charcuterie plates ($9 each); petite duck pastrami reuben ($12) with smoked pepper duck breast, crisp green apple and breakfast radish slaw on rye; mussels in green curry and coconut milk ($9) with baguettes; duck fat fries ($6) with parmesan, sliced garlic and sherry aioli; and an Angus burger ($12) with white cheddar, bacon, crushed avocado and red onion jam.
"I think it's perfect because it can offer someone something light or give them a full meal," Lupo says. "The menu offers great variety."
Named 28 West because the bar/restaurant is located on the western side of the casino and is 28 feet above sea level, the culinary team worked to develop a gastro pub and craft beer pairing menu for many of the dishes, including Chimay Premiere with the burger; Smithwick's Irish red with mussels ($12) in a craft beer broth; Goose Island Matilda with the reuben; Victory Golden Monkey with Banh Mi, a grilled Vietnamese sandwich with slow-roasted pork, cucumber and cilantro on a baguette; Blue Point Toasted Lager with fish and chips ($12); and Ommegang Abbey Ale with grilled lamb spare ribs ($9) braised for four hours.
Other craft beers include Stone Ruination, Wells Banana Bread, Brooklyn Chocolate Stout, and Southern Tier Choklat in bottle, while the draught list is less adventurous, but does feature Sam Adams seasonal.
Of course, there are some interesting cocktails ($12) such as the blueberry cosmopolitan, the bourbon blackberry Collins, a Jameson sour melon and the 007 martini, shaken not stirred.
"Sweet Bites" - all $6 - include fudge brownie pops hand-dipped in chocolate, creme brulee, warm chocolate chip or espresso mocha cookies, and beignets with raspberry and caramel sauce.
The enclosed dining room will be made available for private banquets and parties, something Lupo says Borgata needed.
"We are always getting requests for 25th wedding anniversaries or 50th birthday parties, and nice upscale events for 50 to 60 people, and this is a great space for that," he says. "On Fridays and Saturdays, our restaurants are too busy to accommodate requests like that, but now we can here."
28 West is open Fridays and Saturdays, and holiday weekends. That schedule may change in the summer depending on entertainment or customer demand.
"We will probably open on Sundays in the summer and maybe even Thursdays, when the hotel is always full," Lupo says. "The food is great because it's accessible, yet there are little different bites that you aren't seeing everywhere else. And the response has been strong. I think part of that is because we didn't make a wholesale change, so guests who have been going to SeaBlue for quite some time are prone to go there."
Go to TheBorgata.com.