This post originally appeared at Food & Wine.Big jackpots, flashy shows and all-night clubs aren’t the only draw at the new breed of mega-casinos. Almost 75 per cent of Americans who visited a casino last year ate at a fine-dining restaurant, according to a report by the American Gaming Association (AGA). From Las Vegas to Monte Carlo and Singapore, phenomenal chefs have opened restaurants in casinos around the world.
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If Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and the rest of the Rat Pack were alive today, they might hang out at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, where Charlie Palmer’s Michelin-starred Aureole offers entertainment as well as excellent food. Its famous catsuit-clad “flying wine angels” wear harnesses attached to a pulley system so they can literally fly up to a four-story wine tower to retrieve bottles. Top Chef Masters fans come to the hotel for restaurants by Rick Moonen (RM Seafood) and Hubert Keller (Fleur).
At The Venetian in Las Vegas, renowned chef Thomas Keller’s outpost of Napa Valley’s Bouchon bistro features highbrow comfort foods like a croque madame served on brioche toast. And at B&B Ristorante, chef Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich present signature dishes from their restaurant empire (Babbo, Lupa, Otto and more), like fennel-dusted sweetbreads with duck bacon from Babbo.
American chefs who branch out globally are also drawn to the big-spending atmosphere of casinos. Batali opened the second outpost of his Los Angeles hotspot Osteria Mozza & Pizzeria at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The hotel-casino is also home to superstar chef Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Moderne and Waku Ghin, which is chef Tetsuya Wakuda’s first expansion outside of Australia. A cult figure among chefs, Wakuda offers only a tasting menu of at least 10 courses.
One of the world’s most famous casino restaurants is superstar chef Alain Ducasse’s flagship Le Louis XV, which headlines the many dining offerings at The Monte Carlo Resort in Monaco. The resort complex consists of two palaces, two deluxe hotels, five casinos and 33 bars and restaurants. Inside the stunning Hôtel de Paris, Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse serves Mediterranean-influenced dishes like marjoram-studded sea bass with roasted spiny artichokes and baby lamb seasoned with Espelette pepper and roasted in a fireplace. The impressive wine cellar features 400,000 bottles.
'If Mexico hadn't shared its chiles with China, would we have spicy Chinese food?' asks chef José Andrés. With dishes like Asian duck tacos, his new Vegas spot, China Poblano, fuses the two cuisines. At Jaleo (also in the hotel), Andrés serves traditional Spanish tapas and paella cooked over a large wood-burning grill. The hotel is a veritable food mecca, with restaurants like Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, Scott Conant's Scarpetta and David Myers's Comme Ça.
Under the direction of star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the kitchen at Café Martinique turns out dorade baked en croûte and delicious updates of retro dishes, like lobster thermidor and coq au vin. The wine list is impressive, too, with 31 Champagnes. Back in the 1960s, Café Martinique made a cameo in the James Bond film Thunderball. Architect Adam Tihany has since revamped the space with a birdcage elevator and a grand mahogany staircase.
Michael Mina's Seablue restaurant specialises in seafood like Mina's signature dish: a lobster pot pie made from a two-pound Maine specimen. The restaurant, Mina's first on the East Coast, was designed by famed architect Adam Tihany.
This huge resort consists of two palaces, two deluxe hotels, five casinos and 33 bars and restaurants. Inside the stunning Hôtel de Paris is Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse, the superstar chef's flagship restaurant, which serves Mediterranean-influenced dishes like marjoram-studded sea bass with roasted spiny artichokes and baby lamb seasoned with Espelette pepper and roasted in a fireplace. The impressive wine cellar features 400,000 bottles.
Hotel Lisboa connects to Macau's largest casino, Casino Lisboa, and boasts 18 restaurants. Tim's Kitchen earned two Michelin stars for elevating traditional Cantonese dishes.
Star Puerto Rican chef Wilo Benet describes his cooking as 'global mix cuisine' and combines traditional Puerto Rican ingredients with Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Spanish, Italian, French and Arab influences. He recently moved his flagship restaurant, Pikayo, from a museum to its current location inside the casino; he also opened Varita, with a wood-burning pizza oven and a giant rotisserie that can cook five 50-pound suckling pigs.
Although chef Tom Colicchio's original Craftsteak in New York City transformed into Colicchio & Sons, the concept thrives at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and at Foxwoods Casino. Ingredients are sourced from small family farms, and the menu specialises in offering a wide variety of aged beef, including corn-fed, grass-fed and wagyu steaks.
Inspired by Vegas, Melbourne's casino complex The Crown courted restaurants from celebrity chefs like Nobu Matsuhisa and Rockpool's Neil Perry. At the sleek Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons, Maurice Terzini and chef Robert Marchetti (of Sydney's North Bondi Italian Food) serve updated Roman trattoria fare, like spaghetti arrabiata with crab, tomato and chiles that's been baked in a paper bag.
John Besh runs eight restaurants in New Orleans, including Besh Steak in the Harrah's casino complex. One of his favourite desserts is Père Roux's Cake, which pays homage to New Orleans's classic bananas Foster with a filling of sautéed bananas, cinnamon and dark rum between layers of genoise cake, capped with cream cheese frosting.
At his Michelin-starred Meridiano restaurant, chef Markus Arnold serves dishes like sautéed Breton turbot with beetroots and beef entrecôte with curry. Diners enjoy views of the city as well as the surrounding countryside.
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