The Spiked Lunch event that was part of the Annual Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival 2011 took place at the Phillip’s Seafood Restaurant at Caesar’s Palace.
I was relatively surprised as to the format of this event. Instead of it being buffet style with a raw bar and other seafood dishes, it’s a sit-down lunch including five-courses that has a touch of booze (hence the event name “spiked lunch”) and paired with a cocktail. In my mind, this translates to one of those long brunches that will give you a hangover if you drink everything provided.
Eventually, I sat down with my friend and was randomly joined with a couple from Pennsylvania who went to the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival last year (we sat at a four-top). Very cool people who are curious of the big New York City life. (Keep in the back of your mind that each person who attended this event was provided with a numbered ticket.)
The first course was the Signature Bloody Mary shooter made of ABSOLUT Peppar Vodka, Ocean Spray Bloody Mary mix, rimmed with Phillips Seasoning and a garnished skewer of stuffed olive, sharp cheddar cheese and chili pepper. This little Bloody Mary would definitely wake you up and clear your senses. The skewer was fine for what it was and notably the food items were large bite sizes rather than the standard size olive, etc.
Next up was the Cooked shrimp and vegetable cocktail with a touch of rum, whimsically decorated with a devil’s horn shaped chili pepper. Thankfully, the cocktail was mild and was abundant with asparagus spears and red bell peppers but there wasn’t enough shrimp. The paired cocktail was Tropical Escape and was a delightful drink. It’s made of Cruzan Mango Rum, Mango Puree, Peachtree Schnapps, Banana Liqueur, pineapple juice, topped with a floater of Mt. Gay Rum on the rocks. Sweet, fruity, and transported me to the tropics for a minute.
The risotto with blue crab meat, corn and Parmesan (spiked with whiskey) and was paired with the Manhattan. The risotto portion was huge considering it was a multicourse lunch (this is entrée size, not tasting size). Beyond the size, the risotto was pretty good – creamy, dense, a touch salty, and nutty from the Parmesan. The crab meat and corn brought some needed sweetness. The Manhattan was strong and well made but this is too bitter for my cocktail preferences.
I had to ease off the alcohol quite a bit since I had to be on camera right after lunch. I ended up ordering fresh pineapple juice and iced tea to drink with bird sips worth of cocktails before I need to take a nap right afterward.
Around this time, the restaurant was doing its third or fourth raffle, randomly picking tickets and calling them out. Somehow, they called my number. I rarely win contests or raffles and it didn’t really sink in my mind that I won and the alcohol in my system isn’t helping either. I walked up, they asked me to pick a chip within a wine bucket and won a pair of tickets to see the Australian music group, Human Nature on August 15th. As great as this was winning something, bummed me that I’m not going to be here then. (This is the reason why I posted the ticket giveaway earlier.)
Continuing on, we’re served Steamed Mojito clams with Blue Crab Margarita. The clams were tender little gems, simply cooked with fresh garlic, chiles, lime and cilantro with a shot of Milagro tequila on the side. The tequila elevated the seafood flavor to a different level. The tomato sauced breadstick was a tasty carb to dip in the bowl and sop up the juices (and Tequila). The margarita was balanced, citrusy and strong (in a good way).
Moving on to the last savory course of the meal, the Steak & Lobster. Grilled flat iron steak stuffed with Peruvian shrimp, served with shiitake mushrooms, cherry tomatoes in a soy onion vinaigrette with a flat iron steak wrapped-lobster tail. This was my favorite dish of ones served. Not too salty, tender beef, complex flavors and it tasted really good that I can’t stop eating it even though I was stuffed. The cocktail paired with this dish was the Arnold Daniel. It is the Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half iced tea) stirred with a good amount of Jack Daniels whiskey. A very good drink that I wished I can take it away with me.
I had to take my dessert to go because I had to do my first highlight taping session with Fordcast. It was a dense chocolate cake (more like a muffin, in texture) with a plop of whipped cream, mint, sitting on a shallow pool caramel rum, dusted with cocoa powder.
My tablemate and now friend Russel N., was kind enough to email me the dessert and cocktail photos from his iPhone when I had to leave, as you see above. The dessert is the same except ice cream and a fresh strawberry was served along the cake. The cocktail was the Phillips Mudslide composed of Olifant Vanilla Vodka, Kamora Liqueur and Island Oasis Ice Cream. I was told by my friend (not Russell) that it was a sweet, decadent dessert drink that’s really chocolate-y.
Overall, this event was very good for its price. The portions do fill you up and satiate your need of booze and food. If I didn’t have to do a taping session, I would have lingered around, take a siesta and then eventually be ready work. (Hopefully, without a hangover as my friend told me the restaurant still kept the drinks flowing.)
For more photos of this event/meal, please click through the slideshow below:
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