New York is blessed with great restaurants for very simple reasons, lots of people, plenty of money, all looking for places to eat.
Outside of metropolitan areas, where can you find these common characteristics? Casinos.
The food obsessed culture has lead to more and more US casinos opening restaurants with celebrity chefs, and these restaurants are often copies of their more successful ventures in other parts of the country. Be it casinos in gambling cities such as Vegas or Atlantic City, or standalone casinos in the middle of nowhere, restaurants are a certified draw, and a good way to wine and dine guests between their stints at the felt covered tables.
One of my favorite casinos, Mohegan Sun in the heart of Connecticut, has always used celebrity chefs or owners to draw a crowd to great success. 3 years ago when I visited the location, I noticed that the Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse was packed and Todd English’s Tuscany was overflowing with hungry gamblers. One restaurant that’s constantly empty was Fidelia’s, which lacked recognition.
To fix that, the management brought in a true household name: Bobby Flay, and his popular eatery Bar Americain.
I’m a big fan of New York’s Bar Americain, which strikes a good balance between haute cuisine and a casual atmosphere. Therefore I was quite excited to see how the management team would migrate this concept from Times Square to a casino.
Located upstairs from the crap table and roulette games, the former Fidelia’s space has been given a dramatic transformation. Interior decoration takes many design cues from the New York location, namely the large circular light fixtures, direct view into the kitchen, and warm wooden tones.
The items on the menu is almost identical to the New York location, except for a section that showcases specials for different days of the week. What’s interesting is how prices differ between the two restaurants. A fillet mignon cost more in Mohegan Sun, while a NY Strip is more costly in New York. Tuna tartare is $14 in the casino, but $16 in the tartare crazed city. Are these simple cases of supply and demand, or have something to do with suppliers and prices? I’m guessing a combination of both.
The quality of the food is near identical between NY and CT. The duck, mussels and appetizers were all solid both in plating and flavor. Service is friendly, though lack some of the polish you see in the city. (For more of my impressions on Bobby Flay cooking, see my review of Bar Americain in NY)
I came out of my meal at Bar Americain quite impressed. While it certainly isn’t a cheap meal by Uncasville, CT standards, it was a quality dining experience. A great place to splurge after a big win, or you can always dine then try to win the money back downstairs.
Bar Americain (Make a Reservation)
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT 06382