A Brief Trip Down to Atlantic City – Showboat and Harrah’s

The carnival nearby
Atlantic City, NJ

I had the opportunity to have a brief weekend trip to Atlantic City, New Jersey the past Friday. Then it was the classically hot and humid day when I left New York City and eventually it rained during toward evening unlike that gorgeous blue skies you see on this photo above on Saturday.

I was invited to meet celebrity chefs Aarón Sanchez for dinner and Chris Nirschel for his cooking class later in the evening at Harrah’s.

Entering down the hall Interior
Interior Interior
Crudite and cheese platter Cracker platter
Cheese and fruit platter
Inside the Foundation Room in the Showboat and snacks and drinks

When I arrived to Atlantic City, I met up with fellow guests of this event, if you will, at the Foundation Room at The Showboat. This lounge looked Indian inspired, as it’s decorated in bold, lush colors primarily of reds and gold, and dark wood and what looked like embroidered tiles, and symbolic icons of this culture.

We started with drinks of sparkling wines, wines, cocktails and beer and delectable bites of cheeses and crudite prior to having dinner.

Inside the Crossroads at the House of Blues in the Showboat

We eventually met and was greeted by Chef Aarón Sanchez at Crossroads at the House of Blues. Chef Sanchez created the menu for the revamp of this casual dining restaurant, showcasing his favorite dishes and style of food that reflects on his cooking career ranging from tacos to a nod to New Orleans since he honed his cooking skills there.

Platter of (huge) meatball sliders Street tacos
Grilled flatbread basil pesto and tomato My meatball slider, street taco and Soul Sensation cocktail
Appetizers: Meatball sliders, Street tacos, Grilled flatbread with basil pesto and tomato; my plate of food and cocktail

We started with platters of enormous meatball sliders that each were the size of my fist. These hefty sandwiches were flavorful and the meatballs had a good slightly chewy texture and it was juicy. The street tacos were one of my favorite dishes of the evening. The tacos were made of beef marinated steak served street style corn tortillas topped with Cotija cheese and served with a side of pico de gallo and roasted tomatillo salsa. Steak was tender and juicy, while the condiments added a good depth of flavors to make it tasty. The grilled flatbread with basil pesto, tomato and blend of cheeses was a zesty, free-form flatbread and I do like the sharp bite of the Parmesan cheese used in here.

Chicken jambalaya Shrimp and grits
Citrus grilled chicken breasts with hominy Chile braised short ribs with sweet corn pudding
Main courses: Chicken jambalaya, shrimp & grits, citrus grilled chicken breasts, and chile braised short ribs

For the main courses, we had nuances of Chef Sanchez’s past with his nods to the Big Easy. The chicken jambalaya had a wonderful kick of spices, cubes of chicken and the rice was perfectly cooked. The shrimp and grits were delicious. The fried patties of grits, instead of it sitting in a pool of grits, added an excellent crunchy texture to the dish. The citrus grilled chicken breasts were juicy and thankfully, had the skin on to give it extra flavor from its natural fat. My other favorite dish was the chile braised short ribs on top of sweet andouille corn pudding. The short ribs were fork tender and had an incredible depth of flavor from the mixture of chiles that it’s cooked with. The corn pudding added a sweet twist and I loved the subtly crunchy, sweet sugar snap peas and snow peas.

Chef Aarón Sanchez
Chef Aarón Sanchez

When dinner was over, I have asked Chef Sanchez for his photo. He graciously accepted. He’s a very funny and sweet guy to talk to.

Sammy D's The bar of Sammy D'sInside the rotating cake display case
At Sammy D’s inside Harrah’s

Then I rode in the limousine to Harrah’s for dessert at Sammy D’s. I didn’t anticipate riding a limo and this was pretty sweet.

Smith Island Cake (Peanut Butter Slammer) and Coconut Pounder, in the background Pink cotton candy cake: Layered Vanilla Sponge, Cotton Candy
Salted caramel pretzel cheesecake My Pomegranate Mai-Tai and a slab of Red Velvet cake
The Killer Chocolate Cake My mug of coffee, pomegranate Mai-Tai and partially eaten slice of salted caramel pretzel cheesecake
Dessert: Lots of cake (red velvet, cotton candy, peanut butter and chocolate, coconut, Killer Chocolate, and salted caramel pretzel cheesecake), Pomegranate Mai-Tai cocktail and coffee

Sammy D’s is a casual dining spot at Harrah’s that vaguely of reminds me of an upscale diner with the rotating dessert case, booth seating, and it features a large bar at the front the restaurant.

Since we’re here for desserts, there’s lots of cake to be had. These were gargantuan three to eight-layered cakes ranging from the happy and girly cotton candy cake that is topped off with a large pink cloud of cotton candy to the Killer Chocolate Cake, which is certainly one of the largest chocolate cake slices I’ve ever seen in my life.

My favorite of this spread of desserts was the salted caramel pretzel cheesecake. The cheesecake was rich but not too dense. I loved the pretzel-studded crust to give the cake a subtly interesting flavor profile, touch of salt, and crunch. I also had a wonderful not too sweet yet fruity pomegranate Mai Tai cocktail and coffee to chase down the cake.

By then my body was flooded with alcohol, sugar and caffeine. I have enough energy to burn it at their nighttime club at The Pool…after dark (hey, it’s a Friday night) that’s right across the hall from Sammy D’s.

Prepping at Chef Chris Nirschel's cooking class At Chef Chris Nirschel's cooking class
Mis en place for one of the cocktails at Chef Chris Nirschel's cooking class At Chef Chris Nirschel's cooking class
Chef Chris Nirschel
At the Viking Cooking School with Chef Chris Nirschel

But instead of burning that energy at The Pool, I went over to Chef Chris Nirschel’s demo cooking class at the Viking Cooking School at Harrah’s. His interactive cooking demonstration class was a festive affair with watermelon mojitos and a smattering of tasty Italian-inspired food to pair with other fun cocktails throughout the evening.

My hotel room at Harrah's Waterfront Tower

Then I retired to Harrah’s spacious (about 500 square feet), luxurious hotel room at their Waterfront Tower. I did have a view of a bay and it was a beautiful sight when I woke up the morning when the skies cleared up.

The Pool at Harrah's
The Pool at Harrah’s

I took a dip at The Pool at Harrah’s. As I’ve mentioned earlier, during the nights this would be a club but during the day, this is a gorgeous tropical oasis. It has a huge a swimming pool, a separate large hot tub, and cabanas lined along the pool.

The hotels along the Boardwalk Looking down the Boardwalk
Purple beach umbrellas
At the Atlantic City Boardwalk

But no trip to Atlantic City is complete without visiting the Boardwalk. I took a cab ride over and soak in the glorious morning sun (it was about 9 AM). I also walked over to the beach and feel the ocean (with my feet). When I walked back to the Boardwalk, I spotted an adorable cat napping under the shadow of a bench.

It’s a great trip out to Atlantic City and I can never thank enough the gracious hospitality of the Showboat, Harrah’s, Crossroads at the House of Blues and Chef Aarón Sanchez, Sammy D’s, and Chef Chris Nirschel.

To view more of my photos of this visit, please scroll through the slideshow below (or click through my Flickr set):

[tylr-slidr userID=”hellokitty893112″ groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/hellokitty893112/sets/72157630256561186/[/tylr-slidr]

The Showboat Resort & Casino

Website: http://www.showboatac.com
801 Boardwalk
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Telephone: (609) 343-4000

Harrah’s Resort & Casino
777 Harrah’s Boulevard
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Telephone: (609) 441-5000
Website: http://www.harrahsresort.com


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.