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Nov 10, 2009 09:53 AM

Restaurants at Mohegan Sun leave a lot to be desired

Went up to Mohegan Sun for the Treasure Hunters Show (held in the arena) , it was a lot of fun and very interesting. We stayed in Niantic for 3 nights and ate 2 nights in Mohegan Sun. We have been there 5 times before and ate in numerous restaurants in the complex. (Michael Jordan's- very good but pricey; the Summer Shack- Okay ;Tuscany just okay and the Bamboo Forest- very good). On our recent return we ate at the Bamboo Forest which was not up to the standards that we enjoyed on our last visit. The soup and ribs were very good but the entrees were bland .Shrimp dish was supposed to be spicy it had just 1 chili pepper thrown on top and gave it did not give it the spicy flavor we were looking for. We also had a beef dish which was supposed to have Chinese long string beans instead it had broken skinny beans (not what Chinese string beans are supposed to be) and was flavorless . The portions were tiny. It had to be the worst chinese food we've ever had, our local take out is 100% better. We had lunch a Pepe's which we enjoyed (tried their clam pie- very good.) The next night (we got out of the Treasure Hunters Show late so we decided to eat at the Sunburst buffet) When we arrived there it was 8:30, I asked the receptionist what time they stopped serving and she said they don't let anyone in after 9:00, so we had plenty of time. When we were seated, our waitress took our drink order (we ordered wine) and when she returned with our wine she asked for our credit card to close the account because the bar was closing. When we went up to the stations there were putting the food away, wiping down the counters and nothing could be made to order. The food server at the pasta bar said we had to eat what was out. The food was cold and the service was surly because they wanted to close up. Our waitress came over and asked if everything was okay and told us that after we came in they were told that they were closing. Why let us in if that was the case? We told the manager this and a first he said that it wasn't true. We didn't (couldn't)eat a thing. After a while he said that he would refund our money. We do enjoy the casino at Mohegan Sun put would definitely not patronage their restaurants. We ate out the other night in Old Saybrook and had a wonderful meal at Liv's, I will review that next.

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  1. Typical casino patrons do not exhibit a culinary bent and most are satisfied by a cheap buffet or a trip to Johnny Rocket's. Las Vegas hotel/casinos upped the ante (couldn't resist the pun) due to competition and the construction of the "next big thing" every six months. Trying to lure a casino patron to your particular establishment in LV and away from your competition requires offering something that the other guy doesn't have. So you partner with Wolfgang Puck and advertise that fact. (Ironically, there now appears to be a Puck establishment in every hotel in LV). And when that isn't enough, you sign deals with every "celebrity chef" on TV, and open up outposts of uber-chefs like Thomas Keller, Joel Rubichon, etc.. In Connecticut, there is no competition. If you want the big casino experience, you go to MS or FW. That's it. They haven't seen fit to jump into the celebrity chef pool with both feet because they don't have to spend that kind of money to draw in the crowd. Instead of a formal restaurant run by Bobby Flay, Inc., we get Bobby's take on burgers. I doubt we will ever see a Valentino, Spago, Emeril's or the like in the CT casinos. Instead, we get Jasper White and Bobby Flay attaching their names to places that barely rise above fast food. People who frequent this board, or Epicurious, or Slow Food or e-gullet can be appalled. But the vast majority of casino patrons couldn't care less. I really miss Rain at MS. I thought they did themselves a big disservice when they closed that. But I never got a look at the books. I am sure that if they thought they could make more money running Rain as opposed to Michael Jordan's "Sol", they would have. Don't hold your breath waiting for New York quality dining at the casinos because I just don't see it happening. Just be thankful that you can get a decent Pepe's clam pie.

    And lest you think that I am bashing the CT casinos, the outlook is every bit as bleak in Atlantic City. It remains a mystery why, with actual competition among numerous hotels there, the bar has not been raised. Can't they find any NY restauranteurs who want to take the plunge? No Danny Meyer or Drew Nierporent establishments in all of AC. Doesn't that seem odd?

    10 Replies
    1. re: FoodieJim

      Actually they did jump on the Bobby bandwagon with both feet. Bar Americain is in the final stages of construction where Fidelia's used to be.

      1. re: ratbuddy

        Remains to be seen. Bar Americain (the original) is not exactly exciting. The quality of food is good (and Bobby can usually be found in the kitchen), but an outpost of that menu without Bobby overseeing it does not move me. It certainly won't rival what Rain was doing. We'll see. Not sure who the chef du cuisine will be, and that may make all the difference. That said, it is a move in the right direction and it would be nice to see some fellow New Yorkers make the move. I'd love to see a Daniel Boulud, Danny Meyer, Mario Batali or Drew Nieporent spot come in and compete or complement Bar Americain.

        1. re: FoodieJim

          I would literally jump for joy if they'd replace Johnny Rockets with a Shake Shack.

        2. re: ratbuddy

          Went to Bar Americain at Mohegan Sun last night. They've been open five days. The menu is the same as in the city. The lamb chops were ordered medium and came out rare. The service was top notch except they tried to seat us at one of the worst tables in the place even though it was empty. The food choices may be too narrow and sophisticated for most. Would be better if the menu reflected more Bobby's special cuisine rather than trying to be all things to all people (steaks, shellfish towers etc.). His SW tastes would be a welcome addition to the Sun.

          1. re: wbarish

            I looked at the menu a while back and thought 'boring.'

            There's also not a single vegetarian entree, and he's serving skate. Last I checked, skate was on the 'do not eat' lists due to overfishing.

            1. re: ratbuddy

              I'm going to Bar Americain on Sunday evening; any new reports or suggestions for what to get? I wonder if they'd put together a plate of sides as an entree for vegetarians... their side dishes look great and I've love to try a few of them.

        3. re: FoodieJim

          With the exception of the buffets, Tuscany and a few other restaurants in the old casino all of the restaurants are privately owned and operated.

            1. re: FoodieJim

              In your previous post you made it seem that the casino was running all of the restaurants and the chef's are just attaching their names to them. This is not true in most cases at MS. IIRC, the only restaurant where a chef has "attached" their name is Tuscany. All of the others are run by private companies either run by the namesake chef or at least in partnership with them.

              1. re: Flip

                I never suggested any such thing. A restaurant can be run by a private company with the chef's name attached, yet the chef still has little or nothing to do with the day to day operations. Wolfgang Puck never steps foot in the kitchen of any restaurant with his name attached other than Spago Beverly Hills. (Unless there is a special event that caused them to fly in.) Irrespective of ownership, the casino is responsible for filling up the restaurant space, and the CT casinos have chosen not to partner with big time restaurants the way LV has. That is my only point.

        4. Honestly, MJs is the only place there where I have ever had a great meal. Tuscany is an embarrassment and other places I've tried (Summer Shack, Bamboo Forest, that BBQ place) were all mediocre at best. I haven't tried Bar Americain, though I really enjoyed Bobby's Burger Bar, however that is more upscale fast food.

          1. I had a great garlic and mozz pie at Pepe's the other night. It was only a 20 minute wait (including a well-done cooking request). the crust was lightly charred and chewy, with just enough sauce and cheese and a boatload of fresh garlic.
            I remember thinking it was easily one of the best pizzas I've ever had. Hopefully it wasn't the ten drinks talking...

            1 Reply
            1. re: invinotheresverde

              Well, it was Pepe's of New Haven! Their white clam pizza is out of this world.

              I think Foxwoods is starting to make an effort when it comes to Fine Dining because of the new places in Foxwoods (Craftsteak, Alta Strada, etc.)

              Hopefully, they'll continue to amp up the restaurant war.

            2. I agree. I proposed to my fiancee there and we had a dinner at an Italian restaurant that was just horrible. We still had a great night but the negative I look back on is the Restaurant we went to which I don't remember the name. Food was disgusting! My preference would be Johnny Rockets. They have decent food compared to any other place in the casino.

              1. TUSCANNY GRILL, VERY GOOD