Eating Our Way Through ... Mohegan Sun
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> Team 4: Chris Brooks and Deborah Lockhart
Our best-organized eaters actually found time to attend the WNBA All-Star Game, which was happening on the day of our feasting (women’s basketball fans were everywhere to be seen):
Big Bubba’s BBQ. Can the first place you go to be the most pleasantly surprising? That seems to be the case at Big Bubba’s as we tuck into our noontime feast of half a BBQ chicken and baby- back ribs. The meat is well-aged, flavorful and juicy, the portions are generous and the surroundings are an interesting mix of rib shack, sports bar and souvenir stand (denim apron, anyone?). But the food wins the day, with good country sides like dirty rice, cheese grits and barbecue beans to go with the fried chicken, catfish, Smithfield ham steak and other Southern staples on the menu.
Woodland Wok. This is a Chinese fast-food place sharing space in the new Fidelia’s Market with Chief’s Bagels, Subs and Sweets and Jasper White’s Summer Shack Express. Woodland is pretty much an express operation, too, and a good place for something light and quick after we went a little overboard on the barbecue. The menu here is simple: four appetizers, two soups, five rice, noodle and vegetable dishes and six stir-frys. Displayed in glass cases, everything looks colorful and fresh, ready to hit the wok. Our spicy green beans are crisp and nicely flavored.
Starbuck’s Coffee. A quick stop here and no surprises, except perhaps for the hostess out front distributing free samples of banana-mango smoothies. We eye the pastries (you’ve seen them, too) but opt for a green tea and a white chocolate mocha espresso. One of us is clearly taking a healthier path today.
Sunburst Buffet. The buffet has long been a casino staple and, dating from 2001, this is no exception. We take a tour of the food stations before plunking down our $19.81 each. It’s a clean, well-organized operation with an enormous salad bar and “homemade” soups, dessert bars, an Italian station, a rotisserie (slow-roasted meats and poultry, roasted vegetables) and other features. It’s a large place, seating 300, but you can certainly get your money’s worth if you’re hungry, not especially fussy and not interested in being waited on.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. A big, fun spot on two levels, this is as much a theme park as a restaurant, with palm trees, fishing boat, an island-hopping airplane suspended from the ceiling, surfboards, a stage for live music and a retail store. On the menu are seaside specials such as jerk chicken, jerk salmon and mahi mahi, but equally prominent are the drinks: Off to See the Lizard, 5 O’Clock Somewhere, Incommunicado, etc. We go for the corn-and-crab chowder and Volcano nachos (hoping we’re not the ones who erupt). The really unique feature is upstairs, where the Porch of Indecision offers open-air dining and drinking (a novelty in the otherwise windowless casino), with views of the Thames River. All four teams spend some welcome time on the porch during the day.
Michael Jordan’s Steak House. Having eaten pretty smartly all day, we are ready for our 7 p.m. reservation here. This is a deluxe dining spot, dark and fairly quiet, with superb service, leather-padded booths and darkened windows offering what seem to be one-way views of the passing crowds. The emphasis is on beef, chops and seafood; our shrimp and crab cocktail, 10-ounce filets mignons, sides of mushrooms in white truffle oil and zucchini and tomatoes beneath a Parmesan crust bring things to a delightful, relaxing, luxuriant close.