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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Atlantic City Restaurant Reviews : Mia and Red Square

Atlantic City (or A.C .as I call it) is a destination I have been traveling to for over 10 years now. In the past I went to A.C. to try to win some money on the tables and possibly get a buzz off of watered down casino drinks. To this day I am not sure what is more difficult. One thing I never went to A.C. for is the food, though biscuits and gravy at 6 in the morning can be quite a gastronomic experience. As the years went on and possibly to mimic Las Vegas A.C. has some pretty swanky restaurants even some owned by celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck. In my most recent trip I dined in two different restaurants Mia and Red Square.

Mia describes itself as a Mediterranean Bistro and it is located in the lobby of Caesars. It boasts forty foot ceilings with columns and it is a real treat for the eyes.

For a appetizer I had a seafood salad with scallops, shrimp,mussels and some calamari. The menu said it was suppose to have white anchovies and much to my dismay I didn't detect any. It was a decent starter.

My wife on the other hand didn't fare as well. She had the 'Black Label' Prosciutto di Parma with Italian Long Horn pepper and Estate bottled Olive Oil. Ordering a prosciutto dish should be a pretty safe choice but they managed to screw it up. First of all the Italian long horn pepper had about 1000 seeds in it and was way too spicy. It totally shocked the palate. Also the so called 'Estate Bottled' olive oil made the prosciutto too oily. One last thing I had one piece that was so tough it was inedible.

Things got better with the main courses. I had a dish that might have been one of the best fish dishes I had ever had. The menu description is Crispy Branzino w/ Lobster Fergeola Sarda, Fennel Confit, Olive Tepenade. Sounds like a bunch of culinary mumbo jumbo but the combinations worked well. The skin of the Branzino was very crispy and the meat was succulent and sweet. The briny taste of the olives was nice with the crispy skin, almost like a nautical potato chip. The lobster and the fennel also worked well and the Fergeola,which is a small pasta, added a nice texture. Bravo Mia! Bravo!

My wife had the Fillet Mignon w/ Crab and Scallion Barlotto, Portabello Mushrooms and Merlot Wine Sauce. She thought it was on the salty side but enjoyed it. I tasted it and thought it was OK. Had better had worse.

For desert we had a trio of creme brulee. If memory serves me correctly the flavors were pistachio, vanilla and hazelnut. I thought the pistachio was above average.

All in all Mia was a nice restaurant and I probably would return but there are other places I would like to try first.

Next up was Red Square. I first tried Red Square in 2003 in it Las Vegas location at Cesars. I ordered a Dirty Martini and they served it with Blue Cheese stuffed olives. Needless to say it was love at first taste. I later found out they not only exceled in Martini's but their cuisine is quite impressive as well. Since that time I discovered that Red Square had a location in the Tropicana in A.C. and I 've dined there several times and have recommended it to friends and family.

Red Square is a very unique Russian themed restaurant. Outside of the restaurant there is a huge statue of Lenin holding a martini glass. The lighting throughout the restaurants is tinted red. This may sound annoying to some but it adds to the ambiance of one of my favorite dining establishments. There is a bar that is made partially of ice and has a vodka selection that would make even the most avid vodka connoisseur blush.

For a appetizer I had the Fois Gras which is a very controversial item. The process to make it is considered cruel and it is even banned in some cities in America. I figured I am in A.C. a place where people lose thousands every second, a place where hookers still proudly walk the streets and a place where you can order a transvestite to your room 24 hours a day. With that being said I think eating a little piece of duck liver is not a crime and I did so with no regret. The tiny morsel of buttery heaven was served with a piece of bacon, apple french toast, a baked apple,balsamic syrup and apple jam. The piece of Fois Gras could've been bigger but otherwise it was very well done.

My wife opted for the Lobster Bisque which she boldly called the best she ever had. I tasted it and it was very good. I tasted some Truffle Oil in it which I think added a nice flavor to the bisque.

I usually order the duck at Red Square but this time I tried something different. One of the specials was a bacon wrapped Sturgeon. Years ago I had Sturgeon in Vegas and it was one of the best pieces of seafood I ever had. I decided to try it at Red Square. It was very good though not as good as I remembered. It tasted very similar to salmon. The tender juicy fish was served on a bed of Peruvian purple potatoes.

My wife usually orders a Fillet Mignon but she had it at Mia the night before. She decided on the Beef Stroganoff. Here is the description cut and pasted of their website(sorry Im lazy) :fillet mignon tips with strozapretti pasta, ragout of mushrooms & peas, shoestring potatoes, creme fraiche. I was curious to see how such a pedestrian dish would taste in a nice place like Red Square and it did not disappoint. It was very rich however and we wound up taking it back to the room where it would get devoured later on in the evening.

We did not order dessert.
It was a nice little getaway and what we lost in money we gained in calories. We will return soon.

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