With the whirlwind of new and exciting restaurants and bars opening up at multiple Atlantic City casinos in the last year, it’s been a challenge to keep up with it all. But one recent grand opening that was nearly impossible for any foodie to not have on their radar was the brand new Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen restaurant at Caesars Atlantic City.
With a concept based around the hit reality show of the same name, the restaurant is an impressive multi-level behemoth of a space just at the edge of the property, with visual nods to both the red and blue teams that are featured on the show.
This is the third restaurant in Atlantic City for Ramsay, the Scottish-born/British-raised superstar chef whose partnership with Caesars includes the more casual Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill as well as Gordon Ramsay Steak at Harrah’s Resort. Hell's Kitchen is fine dining for sure, but with a flair for fun, with a bar and lounge area upstairs that peeks down to an exciting open kitchen in the main dining area, which also boasts pitchfork chandeliers and an overall layout that is visually stunning.
The menu offers Ramsay classics such as his signature Beef Wellington and Sticky Toffee Pudding dessert, both of which you will find at his other restaurants in town, but it branches out from there with an array of exiting and delicious dishes that make Hell’s Kitchen stand out on its own.
The Lobster Risotto is as divine an appetizer as I’ve ever tasted, buttery and rich with notes of fresh sage; while the pan-seared scallops - prepared with braised bacon lardons, celery root and pickled granny smith apples - make use of one of Jersey’s best local catches.
Fine dining staples like Rack of Lamb and the aforementioned Beef Wellington are enough to wow anyone with (or even without) a halfway decent palate, and the potato puree that is paired with the Wellington may just be the tastiest version available anywhere. Seafood options are somewhat limited as far as the entrées are concerned, but no matter, as the magnificent Crispy Skin Salmon with beluga lentils, shaved fennel salad and a citrus herb beurre blanc is the one you’d want to order anyway.
Rarely does a restaurant get much notice for their side dishes, but the Baked Macaroni & Cheese is an absolute beast - beautifully executed with smoked Gouda and crispy prosciutto boosting a common dish to an utterly uncommon level of quality. And that same potato puree that comes with the Beef Wellington can be ordered on its own as a side dish, and I can’t think of any reason not to.
Though the Sticky Toffee Pudding is the obvious go-to ending for just about any Ramsay dining experience, the peanut butter cheesecake they had on the night I visited was every bit as good, if not a touch better. You might have to taste both and decide for yourself.
A chat with the master
While actual sightings of celeb chefs at celeb chef-branded restaurants are rare, I lucked out on my most recent trip to Hell’s Kitchen, as I actually had a chance to sit down face-to-face with Ramsay himself and pick his brain for a bit before dinner.
Ryan Loughlin: Hell’s Kitchen is your third restaurant in Atlantic City. What makes this area such a great fit for what you do?
Gordon Ramsay: I remember coming to the area back in 2005 and spending time shooting "Kitchen Nightmares" and noticing the gravitas – there is less arrogance and more realism. It’s one of the very few cities that is very well suited to me. Everyone thinks it's London, Paris or New York, but I didn’t come from that side. And from the minute we opened the Pub & Grill, the turnout was extraordinary. They made me feel warm and welcome. I’ve been around the world 12 times and there is no greater reception than right here.
RL: For folks who have visited your other restaurants in town, why should they come to Hell’s Kitchen? What makes it different?
GR: There is a lot of nostalgia behind this concept (of Hell’s Kitchen). The show been on the air for nearly two decades, and 22 seasons later the viewers still would like more, so the restaurant was a sort of culmination of how successful the show was because of the viewership. If a series launches today and you get to season 6 it's considered a huge success, but season 22? It’s sort of part of the DNA of the country now. The restaurant on set is exactly the same as the one we have built here, from the (colors of the) red and blue teams to the banquets to the chef tables. And then there is the food – everyone is desperate to eat those scallops!
RL: How often do you find yourself cooking with family at home?
GR: A lot. The holidays are just around the corner, and we do celebrate Thanksgiving because we have so many friends in America. I taught the kids to cook early on in life because I think it’s a skill that is as important as English or math. It’s not about posh food or expensive food, it’s about learning to look after yourself.
RL: Do you have any guilty pleasure foods that you enjoy that might surprise people?
GR: Yeah – I’m a sucker for (West Coast-based chain) In-N-Out Burger, especially at midnight after a long night at work. Those things are off the charts! You walk in and you see them hand cutting the chips and there are boxes of potatoes stacked on the floor. Its almost 2023 and we’ve got a fast food restaurant with boxes of fresh potatoes that they are slicing in front of you. How cool is that?
RL: Name three ingredients that you would be heartbroken to not have in your kitchen.
GR: A Madagascar vanilla pod, because that can go savory or sweet. Second would be a capellini. The amount of things you can do with a capellini on the fly when you need stuff ready in 5 minutes is incredible. It cooks in 90 seconds. And then the third one would be a great citrus. Anytime we’ve got citrus in the household we are zesting oranges, limes and lemons.
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