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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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White Linen and Green Felt Make a Perfect Pair

19 April 2006

If the only dining experience you associate with a casino outing is a buffet, you're in for a pleasant surprise with a visit to any one of the fine dining restaurants at the casino destinations in the greater Chicago area.

Even if you're not inclined to gamble but still enjoy a wonderful meal in elegant surroundings at exceptional value, you simply just can't lose. Finding them is a snap, plus there's plenty of free parking and complimentary or reasonably priced valet parking.

Last week we toured the establishments at the casinos in Northwest Indiana. Today we'll take a look at the restaurants to discover at the four Chicago area casinos in Illinois.

Buckinghams at the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin: Fine dining in an English library themed setting featuring a wide range of prime steaks, seafood, poultry, lamb, pork and veal specialties along with a premier selection of domestic and international wines as well as an extensive variety of high-end cognacs.

Recognized for excellence by Gourmet magazine and the National Restaurant News, Buckinghams offers seasonal dinner specials Monday through Thursday that include soup or salad, entrée and choice of dessert for $35 to $40 per person.

Executive Chef James E. Roth (CEC), a graduate of the Washburne Culinary Institute, also features a distinctive version of Surf & Turf using lobster medallions in drawn butter and his famous Colorado rack of lamb.

Open 5 pm – 10 pm Sunday through Thursday and 5 pm to 11 pm Friday and Saturday. Reservations are recommended. Call 847-468-7000.

Fairbanks at the Hollywood Casino in Aurora: Named in honor of the dashing, swashbuckling star of the silver screen, Douglas Fairbanks, the dining room is adorned with authentic memorabilia from his silent film career and themed in a classic 1930's and 40's Hollywood setting.

Honored with its Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator magazine, Fairbanks features prime beef aged for a minimum of 21 days along with Alaskan king crab legs and other seafood selections.

Executive Chef Greg Lawrence (ACF) also presents rotating Thursday night dinner specials for $19.99 per person.

Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 5 pm to 10 pm. Friday and Saturday 5 pm to 11 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday. Call 630-801-7333.

Van Buren's at Harrah's Joliet Casino & Hotel: The neoclassic design of the restaurant provides an intimate setting and the $25 to $50 price range for the entrees translates into outstanding value.

Executive Chef Scott LeCompte (ACF), a Washburne Culinary Institute grad who also attended the Italian Culinary Institute, is fluent in Italian, French and American cuisine. His specialties include lobster tempura with plum and mango sweet and sour sauces, braised short rib raviolis served open face, grilled Chilean Sea Bass and Colorado rack of lamb with a goat cheese crust.

Also featured are specials created daily with seasonal ingredients. The wine list includes 120 selections.

Open Monday through Thursday 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm, Friday and Saturday 4:30 pm to 10:30 pm and Sunday 4 pm to 10 pm. Call 815-774-2624.

Alex at Argosy's Empress Casino & Hotel Joliet: A unique dining experience in an atmospheric ancient Egyptian motif and upscale Mediterranean setting, Alex is well known for its hand selected, hand trimmed USDA steaks. House specialties include the Surf & Turf, 10 to 12 ounce Australian lobster tails, King crab legs, Grouper, King salmon and a succulent prime rib served only on weekends.

Executive Chef Mark McGill also takes pride in his table-side flambé desserts including Bananas Foster and cherries jubilee as well as fresh soufflés served with a homemade chocolate sauce.

Alex features one of the region's finest selections of wines at prices that will surprise even the experts.

Open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 5 pm to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday 5 pm to 10 pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Call 1-888-4EMPRESS.

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