Any regular visitor to Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort has undoubtedly eaten at Plate at one time or another. The casino cafe, however, didn't change its menu for more than a year.
Let's just say the new menu was worth the wait.
Overseen by Chef de Cuisine Kevin Giunta, 75 percent of Plate's menu is either new or features a new presentation.
"We wanted to do something new and different to make it more exciting for guests to come in here," Giunta says. "We are having some fun with the recipes and the presentations. We are the only restaurant here open about 90 percent of the time, so we want to try to do things to capture everybody."
Start with the dozen-item appetizer menu; seven of its dishes are new. Standouts include the cheesesteak spring rolls ($12), the Bacon, Bacon "Jam" Crostini ($9); and the "Plate" of nachos ($12) with chorizo, traditional queso blanco from Spain and homemade pico de gallo and refried black beans.
"For the spring rolls, I knew we couldn't put a cheesesteak on the menu now that White House was down the hall, so we started playing with some wrappers in the kitchen, then added some good top-round beef and provolone and made a nice Sriracha ketchup for a nice sweetness and heat at the same time."
The "Jam" is one of Giunta's favorites.
"It really works in this atmosphere because everyone comes in for bacon and eggs in the morning; it's probably our top seller," Giunta says. "And everyone has a cup of coffee. So we made a jam with bacon and coffee with a really good maple syrup, paired it with some fairly local goat cheese, candied nuts and dressed greens. It all works well together and it's fun. But some people are a little intimidated by it, so I have been actually sending it out to the bar area for some people to try it. Hopefully, they'll get hooked."
Some of the other new additions include Nona's meatball and ricotta brick-oven pizza ($13); two new salads; five new sandwiches including the "Hangover" burger ($13) with a fried egg and smoked gouda cheese and bacon and Nucky's Jawbreaker ($13) with corned beef, turkey, Swiss cheese, house slaw and thousand island dressing; six new entrees such as pecan-crusted tilapia ($18), homestyle meatloaf ($16), three different chicken dishes (all ($18) including chicken pot pie; and five new desserts, including a tiramisu cupcake ($6).
Giunta is particularly proud of Nona's spaghetti and meatball ($16), which uses imported spaghetti from Italy and his mom's meatball recipe.
"It's fresh bread, garlic, parsley and lots of parmigiano reggiano in an 11-ounce meatball that is hand rolled," Giunta says. "No one is doing that in town. They either have the butcher shop do it or they buy it."
The chef says most people have been very positive about all of the changes.
"I think we are paying more attention to detail than we have in the past," Giunta says. "We are trying to get the cooks more involved and have them really pay attention to flavor details and remind them of the basics and why we are here. We make all of our own sauces and we're really back to the fundamentals of good cooking. It's more work, but I have never been afraid to work. I think this menu is great because it's fun, but it's also basic and not too fancy. It speaks to everyone that comes into the cafe. No one should feel intimidated."
Plate is open 24 hours Fridays and Saturdays, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays. Call 609-449-1000.
Burger Bar deals
Gallagher's Burger Bar, arguably the best burger bar in the city, is offering a great deal that is worth checking out.
They call it "We Fiddle with the Middle," and it's an interesting concept for a burger bar: a prix-fixe menu. Offered from 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, the $14.95 meals includes: choice of soup of the day or small Caesar salad; choice of grilled chicken sandwich with fries or prime beef sliders with fries; and choice of chocolate Frangelica cake or cheesecake for dessert.
For more information on Gallagher's, located inside Resorts Casino Hotel, call 609-340-6554.
'Dark Knight Rises'
If you're like me and can't wait for the final installment of Director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy - "The Dark Knight Rises" - that will be released on July 20, then you will probably want to head to the IMAX inside The Quarter at the Tropicana Casino and Resort.
Before every showing of "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," the opening sequence for "The Dark Knight Rises" will be screened for moviegoers beginning Friday, Dec. 16. The six-minute prologue features Nolan's use of extremely high-resolution cameras and stellar sound techniques.
The film will feature Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Tom Hardy as Bane, Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox.
For those who really can't wait, there will be sneak preview screenings 9:15 p.m. and midnight Thursday, Dec. 15. Sounds like a fun night out.
Pier parking promotion
Want to shop or eat at The Pier Shops at Caesars but don't want to be hit for the parking fee? All month, the luxury mall is is offering free parking at Caesars with the purchase of $100 or more at any of the retailers and restaurants at The Pier Mondays to Fridays.
Shoppers or diners will receive a complimentary parking voucher from the store or restaurant where they spend $100 or more. Receipts may be accrued from previous same-day purchases at various stores and presented to the cashier, as well. It applies to Caesars' self-park garage only.
The Pier is also offering HapPier Hour, offered by all of the restaurants inside The Pier. It includes half-price appetizers and $5 drinks from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays at Buddakan, Continental, Phillips Seafood and Souzai Sushi & Sake.
ACCC Santa brunch
This Sunday, Dec. 18, is the last weekend to check out the renowned Santa brunch at Atlantic City Country Club.
The Caesars Entertainment-owned country club's brunch features a wide array of breakfast and dinner items, including omelet, carving and dessert, stations. A professional photographer will also take photos with Santa and children. Cost is $29.95 for adults, $14.95 for children 12 and under, free for children 4 and under.
Cook, Crack & Eat
The final 2011 installment of Cook, Crack & Eat, a cooking series at Phillips Seafood Restaurant by Executive Chef Paul Drew, will be held 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, with "The Feast of the Seven Fishes." Drew will share the way he celebrates Christmas Eve with his family - in Italian fashion (even though he's English). Learn how to prepare the feast that all ethnicities enjoy. The $65 price includes the demo, wine and lunch. Phillips is located inside The Pier Shops at Caesars. Call 609-348-2273 to make reservations or go to
Tasting series at Mia
The Mia Tasting Series at Caesars Atlantic City continues noon to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, with "Sparkling 101." The $50 installment includes an engaging course over bubbles with some light bites and entertainment. Call 609-441-2345.
Trop shares holidays with community
The Tropicana recently held a special free performance of its holiday show, "The Spirit of Christmas," for local community groups.
Volunteers and members of various community groups were treated to the show as a "special thank you for the dedication, support and kindness they show to the community," according to a Tropicana spokeswoman.
Groups included the Salvation Army of Atlantic City, the Community Food Bank, Covenant House, the Atlantic City Police Athletic League and more.