During our spontaneous trip to Atlantic City for the Kanye West concert at Revel, my sister, Leigh and I decided a fabulous meal was a necessity. We sat in our dark hotel room with Open Table as our guide searching for the perfect culinary experience to kick off our night. We found Amada, Iron Chef Jose Garces’ restaurant. I loved his Chicago tapas spot, Mercat a la Planxa, and with that we were sold. Despite our reservation having to be at 5pm since we were a bit late in the booking game, we we’re thrilled for our meal.
It surpassed all expectations.
Located in Revel, the newest hotel in Atlantic City, our minds were blown by the gorgeous and modern interior with DJ’s blasting amazing music and the fun Vegas like high-end feel. We ended up walking past the restaurant a few times, lured by the flashing lights of casino glory. Eventually we found it and were seated at a beautiful table with a view of the ocean. There really is no bad seat in this elegantly designed restaurant, which opened in April. The dark wood and complex black decorations give it a wonderfully romantic feel. My sister and I felt like we were on a perfect date. They have really unique booth-cabana like tables against the window for those smart enough to make an advanced reservation.
We immediately ordered red sangria and toasted to the start of a unforgettable night. The mini and plentiful pieces of fruit were the perfect addition to our sangria. Plus a cinnamon stick always adds the essential bite of spice to the ultimate drink. Definitely a favorite.
We started the meal with a cheese dish. Each of the cheeses are listed with their side component. They varied from truffled lavender honey to sherry bacon caramel. But what really caught my eye was the balsamic strawberries. I love the combination of sweet and acid and with paired fresh queso de cabra, a creamy goat cheese, I knew we couldn’t go wrong.
The presentation was extraordinary. It was so simple, three slices if a French baguette, the cheese molded to look almost like an ice cream or sorbet, the bowl of diced strawberries soaking up the balsamic and finally, the most intricately cut and layered granny smith apples which we were shocked to discover weren’t connected.
I carefully spread the cheese over a small piece of the bread, followed by a little slice of apple and finally topped with the soaked balsamic strawberries. It was an explosion of flavor. The super creamy, almost cream cheese-like but so much lighter, cheese played the main role. Everything else helped to enhance the pure, fresh cheese. The sweet tang and bite of the apple and topped off with the acidic and sweet strawberries. Even when the bread and sides were devoured, I kept licking the knife clean, savoring every bite of the wonderful, rich cheese.
Next, we debated over what tapas to order. We asked our wonderful waiter, David, about the speed of the meal. I tend to get nervous ordering all at once at tapas places in fear of an overwhelming overflow of food. He said they come out as prepared, but the variation of our dishes should allow for a staggering of the meal.
We then asked him for his opinion of the gazpacho, a Wolfson favorite. He didn’t seem too enthused about this dish, but despite his negativity we ordered it anyway, along with garlic shrimp and octopus confit.
They all came out at once. We were extremely overwhelmed, having barely touched our sangria and table now crowded with food. We were also still working on the cheese. David immediately came over and remedied the situation, removing the octopus while we worked on the other dishes. So note to those planning to dine here, be sure to order relatively slowly.
A simple bowl of crab meat, slices of avocado and croutons were placed in front of us, causing both Leigh and I to raise our eyebrows in confusion. However, the waitress then poured the beautiful yellow liquid over the dish and, bam, we had our gazpacho.
One of the best dishes of my life. I usually give all the gazpacho credit to my mom, but sorry Lor, this takes the cake. It was more of a yellow tomato purée rather then the chunky tomato, cucumber concoction. It just worked. The creamy yellow tomato broth had the most subtle kick of heat, which would be cooled off by all of the other complex components. The deliciously creamy and rich crab meat stood out and melded so well together. Then the light creamy avocado with a bit of sea salt added the ideal fresh subtlety. Then there was the slight crunch of the Parmesan crouton. It combined together to make the most wonderful, light cold soup on a hot summer day.
Then we moved on to the complete other end of the spectrum with the sizzling garlic shrimp.
The heat radiated off the dish, allowing for us to smell all of its garlicky flavor. I took one out, cut it into a bite size piece, dipped it back in the sizzling oil and took one perfect bite. The shrimp was perfectly cooked, with the sweet flavors of garlic, oil and parsley. At the end there was a subtle kick of spice, rounding out the whole dish. There were toasted pieces of bread on the side there to soak up all of the delicious flavors of the garlic, oil and shrimp.
Then, our waiter brought out the octopus confit and our added order of roasted veggies with goat cheese.
The octopus and potato confit was served on a round wooden plate, with a bit of a dip allowing for all of the juices to stay contained and soaked up by the octopus and potatoes. We squeezed the lemon juice over the top allowing for some citrus and acidic flavor to meld with the other seasoning. There was a heavy layer of paprika sprinkled over the top giving that ideal smokey heat necessary for the dish. It was delicious. We ate the octopus almost like candy. Each piece was cooked to perfection, avoiding that chewy, gummy taste. It was such a clever, unique dish.
Then we dug into the veggies.
Each slice of bread was covered with fresh goat cheese. The veggies were lined as eggplant, roasted red peppers, onions and roasted tomato. I swept straight across the row with my fork making sure to get a piece of everything. It was the light and fresh, with eggplant of course being my favorite veggie of all. It was the perfect way to end the meal. Or so we thought.
We had been talking with the wonderful manager, Derek, for a while as he made his rounds. That’s always one of my favorite things about fine dining, the service and care given to every customer by the management.
The bus boy brought over more silverware and we were a bit confused. Then placed in front of us were banana saffron donuts with sorbet, courtesy of Derek. He said it was his favorite dessert and I could definitely see why.
The warm outside coated in cinnamon sugar gave way to a creamy custard interior. The combination of saffron and banana proved to be so unique, but just worked with the element of spice enhancing the banana’s natural flavor. Then the cool sorbet contrasted with the warm donut. One of the best, non-chocolate desserts I have had in a long time.
We left the meal so happy and full, having enjoyed everything about the meal. Between the staff, food and ambiance it could not have been more enjoyable. For anyone making their way to Atlantic City, Amada is a must.
Amada – Revel Hotel and Casino (500 Boardwalk, Revel Beach) – Atlantic City, NJ
*NOTE: We loved our meal so much, especially the cheese and gazpacho that we ended up going back for a quick bite before the drive back to NYC. The new cheese we tried was the Garrotxa with Garlic Dulche de Leche. Yes, you read that right, garlic Dulche de Leche.
It just worked. The hint of garlic was so subtle, but the flavor was extraordinary. I wish I could have packaged it to go, and especially loved putting it on the apple slices.
Until next time AC…
Location: Atlantic City, NJ
Type: Spanish, Tapas
Perfect For: Special Occasions, Girls’ Night Out, Date Night
Reservations: Recommended via OpenTable
Favorite Dishes: Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with Crab, Cheese Plates, Octopus Confit, Sangria