I had to pass on an invitation to attend a press night at Nero's Grill at Caesars in Atlantic City a couple of weeks ago because it conflicted with my son's back-to-school night (hate when that happens). Fortunately, my friend and one of my favorite New Jersey food bloggers, John from Eating in South Jersey, was able to attend, and I was able to get the inside scoop from him.
Living as closely as I do to Atlantic City, it's difficult to imagine that local and sustainable is going on at the casino restaurants. There is nothing about Atlantic City that says "sustainable" to me. It's always struck me as a place that only takes, takes, takes. Nero's is trying to change that image a bit.
The seafood and steakhouse's new fall menu consists of sustainable ingredients grown and sourced from local farms and fisheries. The restaurant works with River & Glen, a Pennsylvania based company, which, according to John, "works with smaller farms and fisheries that are using sustainable methods and connects them with restaurants." Not all of the food is sourced from New Jersey, but it seems to be sourced sustainably from along the East Coast.
In addition to the locally sourced foods, the wines for Nero's are chosen with the environment in mind. The wine menu informs guests whether the wine was made organically, sustainably or biodynamically. I would appreciate that type of information on any wine list. It amazes me that many wines do come from wineries that are doing it sustainably, but the winery doesn't put that information out front and center.
The photo above is of Seared Cape May Scallops with Local Corn and a Basil Foam. (Can someone please explain the foam phenomenon to me?). John described them as "pristine."
His overall impression of Nero’s and its sustainable menu?
If Nero's Grill can deliver on a day-to-day basis the level of quality we received at this dinner, it will be a wonderful dining experience for those who choose to worry less about the name over the door and more about the food on their plate. And in looking over the new regular menu, the prices are in line with what you would expect for an upscale casino restaurant (i.e. expect to pay a little more than a comparable place not in a casino). But — in comparison with the casino steakhouses with the fancy celeb chefs, Nero's Grill won't drain your bank account as quickly. Kudos to Chef Keith Mitchell, and I hope they stick with the plan.