I love reading restaurant reviews. And the ones that are the most fun to read, in a perverse way, are the ones where a reviewer has a truly dreadful time - and doesn't pull any punches.

Read http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/106758463.html" target= "_blank">Rick Nichols' review in the Inquirer Sunday of the SugarHouse Casino two restaurants.

Nichols makes it clear he's not a gambling fan. And he finds the food at the restaurants not very good. But what's more interesting is how he perceives the overall SugarHouse experience:

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"The casino is wall-to-wall slots and a few board games, and has the charm of a Wal-Mart. There is nothing to do here but gamble. Or have a drink at the bar (which is inset with video-poker screens). No shopping. No strolling the Boardwalk. No fine dining. No escape in this big-box monument to escapism.

To be fair, on a second visit last week, the Refinery's kitchen was trying out a couple of specials - a butternut squash bisque with the consistency of butterscotch pudding, and a tender, house-made mushroom ravioli in a marsala cream sauce with a whiff of truffle oil that could have held its own in a South Philly cafe.

Still, your mind ponders Las Vegas, its casinos lousy with celebrity-chef-run venues outdoing themselves. It considers the temptations of Atlantic City's posh Borgata, one of the attractions of which is Izakaya, the sexy, Japanese gastropub.

SugarHouse doesn't presume to such ambitions. It doesn't pretend to be a resort. Or a destination. Or a place to feed your hunger for finer things."

Atlantic City couldn't ask for better publicity in a Philadelphia paper. Or a clearer roadmap showing the path for future investment and marketing.

 

 

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