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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Mosaic at Harrah's Joliet Raises the Bar for Casino Dining

19 July 2006

Rest assured that the Greater Chicago gambling market has come of age when a master chef of the stature of Rick Bayless appears as part of the grand opening celebration for a new casino restaurant.

But then, Mosaic at Harrah's Joliet Casino & Hotel is not just another restaurant. It's a delightfully imaginative, upscale yet casual, dining venue the likes of which are usually found only at resort casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

Bayless, the genial host of the PBS television series "Mexico, One Plate at a Time" and owner of Chicago's award-winning Frontera Grill and Topolobampo restaurants, made a personal appearance to prepare a selection of his specialty dishes and to sign copies of his new book, Mexican Everyday.

It was a most appropriate way to usher in what could very well be a new era of culinary experiences and other entertainment venues at casinos in the market, certainly the direction Vegas has taken in recent years.

Mosaic clearly takes dining in a casino environment to a new dimension by elevating casual dining out of the ordinary and transporting it to an exciting, exhilarating new realm of tastes and sensory experiences.

Located in the property's attractive and spacious pavilion, the restaurant seats 225 diners and boasts an open kitchen and panoramic views of the Des Plaines River. The décor is a pleasing combination of rich wood tones and contemporary art-inspired accents.

The talents of award winning Executive Chef Lam Vongsakoun, who graduated with honors in Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University, were called upon to create a menu that boasts over 80 dishes, many of which have a Tex-Mex or Asian flair.

One example of his unique appetizer creations is the caramelized country cornbread served in a mini-skillet with honey butter and sweet molasses. Appetizers range in price from $5.50 to $8.95.

House specialties include Lam's Spicy Chicken (fried chicken breasts with Mosaic's Szechwan sauce served with a bowl of steamed rice) and BBQ Meat Loaf stuffed with cheddar cheese and mushrooms, topped with honey chipotle BBQ sauce and served with garlic mashed potatoes and crispy onion strings. Entrée prices range from $8.95 to $25.95.

Oversized dessert offerings include the Key Lime Martini (graham cracker crust and fresh key lime curd with candied limes and chantilly whipped cream) and the Oreo Cookie Insanity (vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two Oreo cookies and topped with caramel and chocolate sauces). All desserts are priced at $6.95.

Mosaic is adjacent to another new Harrah's Joliet entertainment experience, the ultra-bar and lounge Sheer, which specializes in martinis and signature cocktails.

The trend in the gaming industry is for a property's entertainment and restaurant venues to appeal to gamblers and non-gamblers alike. Mosaic fills the bill.

The restaurant is open seven days a week (Monday – Thursday, 4 pm – 10 pm; Friday, 4 pm – 11 pm; Saturday, 11 am – 11 pm; Sunday, 11 am - 10 pm). Phone 1-800-688-5476 for reservations.

Hours for Sheer, also open seven days a week, are Sunday – Thursday, 4 pm – 12 am; Friday and Saturday, 4 pm – 2 am.

If you prefer old-fashioned board games to their video counterparts and would be intrigued by one that combines the elements of casino gambling and horse racing, I highly recommend The Horse Race Game, an entertaining party game that incorporates a deck of playing cards and a pair of dice around a thoroughbred racing theme. It's fun and easy to play. Visit www.thehorseracegame.com for information.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp