Jose Garces Launches at Revel in Atlantic City
The multibillion-dollar Revel megaresort is the first new casino for Atlantic City in over nine years, and it’s currently open for an eight-week preview period. The 130,000-square-foot complext features 1,800 guestrooms, a 32,000-square-foot spa and over 14 restaurant and dining concepts. Some of the biggest hype about the new venture surrounds the three restaurants from Iron Chef Jose Garces. After all, it’s not every day that a Philly-based celebrity chef parks himself and his cuisine at the Jersey Shore.
And park himself he did — literally. One of the most eye-catching displays on the main“Revlery” floor is the bottle-cap-studded food truck, Guapos Tacos, adjacent to Distrito Cantina (a quick-serve version of the University City original). Bare bulbs are strung from the truck over the small indoor courtyard of picnic tables, and the simple, open-air style of the eatery gives the year-round impression of an outdoor party.
The theme here is elevated modern Mexican street food, perfect if you’re on a budget (most dishes run less than $12). Standouts include tacos with cabrito (goat, black bean, orange habenero salsa, goat crema) or pescado (mahi mahi, chipotle remoulade, lime-pickled red cabbage, avocado) and huaracha los hongos (flatbread with forest mushrooms, huitlacoche sauce, black truffle and corn shoots). The cantina features signature margaritas like the Paloma (Sauza Hornitas Plata, grapefruit soda, lime, salt), Mexican sangrias and beers, and unusual cocktails like the XO Hot Chocolate (with Patron XO and vanilla vodka) or the Hemingway (chile-infused tequila, maraschino, grapefruit).
At Village Whiskey (inspired by the Ritttenhouse outpost), Garces reveals his skill with all things American while managing to be upscale and off-kilter at the same time. Duck fat fries with a Sly Fox cheddar sauce go decadently well with a truffled mushroom Maine Angus burger; pair an Irish Car Bomb shake with a lobster BLT (butter-poached lobster, lemon Old-Bay aoli, applewood-smoked bacon); or sit at the bar and sip one of the 80 whiskeys available while munching on housemade tater-tots or pickles (truffled cauliflower, green beans and shallots, local red and golden beets, anyone?). All of this is served in a space with the same accents as the Philly original: black and white tile floor, tin ceilings, and polished wooden accents.
Just like in the city, the flagship in Garces’ Atlantic City trilogy is Amada, located along the floor-to-ceiling windows on the “Revelry” with a pristine ocean view. The menu reflects the splendours of Spanish tapas , and the restaurant echoes this with its dark mission fixtures and whimsical modern accents. Must-haves include the Jamon Iberico (the ham of the famous black pig of Spain), aged Manchego with lavender honey, and the almejas con chorizo (clams and chorizo). Go all out by ordering paella valenciana or cochunillo asado (roast suckling pig) for the entire table. Pairing options include sangrias, craft beers, Spanish wines, and innovative cocktails named after Pedro Almodovar films. There will also be live flamenco performances, and if you don’t have the time (or the cash) to spend, there’s an adjacent bar area that offers the same experience on a more casual level.
“My mantra is simple,” states Garces, “‘Authentic’ and ‘innovative’ are not contradictory.” Having conquered first Philadelphia, then the Food Network, and now Atlantic City (with other ventures on the way in Florida and Arizona), it’s clear he can hold the contrasts. Whether you are looking for a quick gourmet fix or to sit and immerse yourself in a Top Chef’s luxury, “Jefe” Garces’ offerings at Revel deliver.
Photos via Revel