When I signed myself up for a girls’ weekend in Atlantic City, I never imagined I’d end up on a gastronomic tour of what seems like every top dining establishment the New Jersey paradise has to offer. But thanks to my friend Sara, Margate local and Trump-lawyer descendant, we and three of our girlfriends had the most opulent and indulgent weekend so far this year. The destroyed remains of a 1.5 pound chocolate box resting on my Trump Taj bedside table pretty much says it all.
Our weekend started off with a bang at Trump’s meat-eater palace, the Safari Steakhouse. Tagging along with Sara and her father, the Chef de Cuisine’s respective cousin and uncle, we had an inkling that the service would be attentive. Six courses later, we finally understood what it really means to be a special guest of an Atlantic City chef. Move over, Las Vegas!
First class treatment aside, the restaurant impressed me from the start with the bread basket’s immediate arrival. Not only was it served just on time, it also seemed like a relic of the Roman times in terms of its abundance. Rolls and parmesan lavash piled high into a beautifully edible centerpiece, and once discovering the irresistible, doughy pretzel rolls, we slowly dented the structure.
As I desperately tried to cut myself off, I was intercepted by yet another form of bread in its finest form: foie gras goat cheese crostini, compliments of cousin Chef Greg. Just when I thought duck liver couldn’t get any more decadent, I was eating it on top of bread and cheese – I felt like I was defying some conservative food law. The crostini itself was carefully toasted and buttered, and the acidity of the balsamic glaze perfectly cut the full-bodied flavors of the toppings. After one bite, I knew right away that we were on our way to AC excess.
After a few glasses of wine, my stomach space began to shrink, but that didn’t stop me from digging into Chef Greg’s next act: hot, earthy, french onion soup in a ceramic dish sealed with browned, glossy gruyere cheese. I could only think of my father, who prides himself on being an onion soup purist – classic and unadulterated, this undoubtedly would have earned his stamp of approval.
Dazzled by these riches of cheesy goodness, it became difficult to remember what I had actually ordered. But before I could even come up for air and think, out came the chilean sea bass with jumbo shrimp scampi and roasted potatoes. The fish was light and straight forward, but the real beauty lay in the layer of buttered bread crumbs and the creamy sauce surrounding it.
As if we hadn’t been spoiled enough, our server next arrived with a tray of miniature sauce pans holding diamond-shaped wedges of puff pastry – the chef’s take on individual seafood “pot pies.” The scallop and crab were flawlessly cooked and simmered in a thick seafood broth that could have been described as either a dieter’s worst enemy or a vacationer’s best friend. Let’s just say we got along quite well.
Once we properly configured our overload of food, which included perfectly sauteed asparagus, sweet mashed potatoes, and filet mignon, not one inch of table cloth peered through the sea of edibles. After pausing to assess the feast, a sense of excitement and overwhelmingness rushed over me. How could I even attempt to tackle this?!
Probably to my detriment, I somehow always find a way. Everything was delicious, but surprisingly, the asparagus stole the attention of the table. Chefs rarely get asparagus exactly right – being so inconsistent in density and thickness, they require close attention while cooking. These had just enough bite and seasoning, and were a perfect compliment to our heavy main courses.
Despite our professions of fullness, we knew based on the present performance of the chef, we couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to sample his interpretation of dessert. With diehard chocolate and cookie fans about, we ordered the chocolate mousse cake and the cookie basket. The chocolate cake rested a few feet away from me, but nothing could prevent me from disregarding my manners and reaching across Sara’s way to take bite after bite of it. The ganache was silky smooth and perfectly sweet, as was the cake itself. It may not have had as many layers as the chocolate cake at Strip House, but it was definitely on par in terms of quality.
After spending quality time with the cake, I devoted my attention to the cookie basket, which was edible in its entirety. While most of our crew was wowed by the oversized, tuxedo-decorated chocolate strawberries, I couldn’t stop tasting the double chocolate crackle cookies and buttery pecan squares.
I eventually followed my friends’ good examples and put my fork down, sad to be at the final stage of the meal but relieved to allow my stomach to rest. The dessert truly merited devouring, but with a night of carousing in mind, we just couldn’t go on. It’s a shame that carrying left-overs in the casino isn’t in style.
After a few days of reflecting on our meal, I can confidently state that dinner at Safari was my most extravagant steakhouse meal ever. Best of all, it was the most appropriate way to launch our Celebration of Women weekend – it was indulgent, excessive, and finished off with chocolate…just as I want every future trip to be.
Location: Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City