Eating Our Way Through ... Foxwoods

 

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> Team 3: Dan Courcey Jr. and Dan Courcey III
This high-energy father-and-son team took to the assignment like a couple of bird dogs, not only hitting their assigned restaurants but also the spa and two unassigned spots (which was just showing off).

Alta Strada (MGM). The decor is chic—lots of browns and brickwork, a metallic bar with sleek white stools. We begin with a breakfast buffet that has an Italian flavor: Offerings include homemade pastas, meats and fresh antipasti, a carving station with ham and pork, as well as breakfast pastries, house-smoked salmon and more. Delicious pork and onion hash. The antipasta table is a standout—amazing selection of olives. Everything is excellent, including the service. The dinner menu here looks reasonably priced, featuring creative Italian dishes plus some interesting pizza.  

Junior’s (MGM). This big, bright, airy restaurant is located just off the hotel lobby of MGM Grand (we were initially confused by the Junior’s pastry-only kiosk outside the hotel). We have been to the original Junior’s in Brooklyn as well as its sister in Grand Central Terminal, so our expectations are high. Evidently there’s both indoor and outdoor dining here (for those swimming in the MGM pool). Junior’s boasts a huge menu of reasonably priced deli fare. The very comfortable feel and colorful, airy decor seem great for families. The “world famous” cheesecake (always amazing) and coffee do not disappoint.

Sidewalk Café. The Sidewalk Café is a multipronged eatery located near the Theater District at Foxwoods comprised of Salad Express, Carnegie Deli and Nathan’s Famous, as well as pizza. We head for the deli and order a corned beef sandwich on rye with spicy mustard. The beef, weighed in cups before being put on the sandwich, is excellent, but the bread and pickles don’t seem up to Carnegie Deli standards. The Nathan’s dog does just fine.

Al Dente. This is a roomy Italian restaurant with vaulted ceilings and it’s getting pretty loud as evening draws near. Let’s call it an “energetic vibe.” Service is prompt, polite, helpful and friendly. We both love the fresh bread with garlic/olive oil for dipping—also the Romano cheese. The carpaccio Del Manzo is great, served with portobello mushrooms, arugula and truffle oil. A porcini-crusted veal chop is of melt-in-your-mouth quality, further perfected by Barolo sauce. Spice-roasted sea scallops are also good. 

Paragon. All hail this high-end continental restaurant set in a dreamy location on the 24th floor of the Pequot Hotel! Let’s begin with the very talented jazz piano player. Then we’ll move on to the Old World elegance of the room—intimate, candlelit tables spread wide apart, formal service—this is classic romantic-dinner-for-two territory. Where else can you get tableside service for an entire meal (warm spinach salad, Chateaubriand bananas Foster). We get the warm spinach salad for two and grilled lobster, both of which are excellent. The New England trio dessert (cream brulée, cheesecake, and a wild concoction featuring prosecco, Pop Rocks and more) seems a bit strange. Perhaps its wit is lost on us at this point in our day. A side note: Paragon’s coffee service is amazing. Whipped cream, chocolate, three different sugars, cream, scalded milk—we’ve never seen anything like it. Another side note: At the outset, our server did not mention the cost of the caviar ($475) and Kobe beef ($175) specials. We had to press further to get the prices. We could easily have ordered these pricey items, mistakenly assuming their costs were in line with the rest of the menu. In any event, Paragon lives up to its fine billing and its 24th-floor perch. 

Eating Our Way Through ... Foxwoods

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