I had not visited a member of the David Burke culinary empire in several years. I believe my last visit was to the now defunct and David Burke’s first proprietary venture in New York City – ‘davidburke&donatella’ which opened in 2003.
Finding myself in New England on what was supposed to be a “Sunny 80°F day”, we were greeted by heavy clouds and showers with a high of 60°F. It proved weather reporters wrong and put me in a bummer-type mood.
It is funny how quick spirits can turn back to bliss when the right food is involved.
We discovered that Mashantucket, Connecticut had a David Burke restaurant. Like moths to a flame, we changed into warm clothes and headed over for an experience because ‘David Burke’ is synonymous with ‘culinary excellence’.
Tucked away on the restaurant Level of the Grand Pequot Tower in the Foxwoods Resort Casino, our day was saved.
About David Burke
David Burke was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in New Jersey. Well-known for his participation on the TV show ‘Iron Chef’, with a loss by a toothpick that he sustained to Bobby Flay over a lamb dish, David Burke has also appeared on ‘Top Chef Masters’, NBC’s ‘Today Show’, Bloomberg’s small business television show ‘The Mentor’ and has published two cookbooks: ‘Cooking With David Burke’ (1999) and ‘David Burke’s New American Classics’ (2006) co-written with Judith Choate.
Burke, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a student at Ecole Lenôtre culinary school in Plaisir, France has worked with chefs in France and New York such as Daniel Boulud (a name everywhere in New York City these days), Charlie Palmer and Waldy Malouf.
At only 26, Burke received 3 stars from the New York Times at ‘The River Café’. Burke also won the Nippon Award for Excellence from the government for Japan for skill and technique.
After leaving the River Café in 1992, Burke opened Park Avenue Café with Smith & Wollensky CEO Alan Stillman, and then, in 1996, he became vice president of culinary development for the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group. In 2003, Burke branched out on his own to start his first ever proprietary ‘davidburke & donatella’. His first, and my last experience with David Burke until now.
In 2015, he became a consulting partner at ESquared Hospitality, which owns and operates the BLT restaurant brand. Burke has cooked steak for President Donald Trump, and disputed allegations that the President ate his steak with ketchup. He was rumored to be under consideration for the post of White House Executive Chef, but has stated that he would likely not be interested in the position. I will leave that right there.
Burke opened additional concepts that include ‘david burke townhouse’, ‘David Burke at Bloomingdale’s’, ‘Fishtail by David Burke’, and ‘David Burke Kitchen’ in New York City; ‘David Burke Fromagerie’ in New Jersey; ‘David Burke’s Primehouse’ in Chicago; and ‘David Burke Las Vegas’ and ‘David Burke Prime at Foxwoods’, where I found myself for lunch on a cold New England Friday.
David Burke Prime Steakhouse Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA
It is no wonder, our behavior most closely resembled that of Pavlov’s dogs with the mere discovery that we were in the vicinity of this restaurant. His credits are outstanding and we were hungry.
The Craveable Hospitality Group, formerly known as The David Burke Hospitality Group opened David Burke Prime in July 2008 at Foxwoods Resort Casino.
The space is notable. Whenever I discover large spaces, I stand with my jaw dropped and stare for a good few minutes. I attribute this to a type of shock from living in NYC, where spaces are notoriously small.
We were greeted by a cow bench, a perfect adornment for city people in the country that led to 13,000 square feet of dimly lit, dark wood space adorned with modern accents, which seats 280 people and includes a 28-seat bar situated to the left of the entrance. They also boast a 1,700 square foot private banquet area.
Most impressive is the wine tower that Brandon Robinson, Owner and General Manager, was kind enough to take me though.
A dining room floor entry allows you to walk in to a cylindrical vault housing more than 3,000 wines for your dining experience pleasure.
As I looked in awe at the magnificence I was standing in I realized I could live happily in there. But I digress…
Executive Chef Pedro Avila, formerly a sous chef at Biggs Steakhouse, Seafood & Wine Cellar in Chicago and the Smith and Wollensky Steakhouse group joined the Craveable Hospitality Group in 2006 as an Executive Sous Chef at David Burke Primehouse in Chicago. He hand picks all cuts of meat served at the restaurant. All meat is cured in the restaurant’s in-house dry aging room. In that room, Craveable has won a United States Patent for the dry-aging process.
You may recall that I visited a Salt Room in New York City and reported on it for AlphaLuxe. While I know the health benefits to humans, I was not aware of the flavor benefits unto meat, with the exception of cured meats like corned beef.
Brandon explained that much like the benefits that we experience from enjoying down time in a Salt Room, the meat is in a room allowed to dry naturally from the salt, while also absorbing the flavors. The result is beef that is very tender. The steaks can be aged over 28, 40, 55 or 76 days. The more the steak ages, the more moisture that evaporates and more concentrated the flavor of the steak. This was very interesting to me, and influenced me to order steak, a move that I do not usually make.
We began our experience with one dozen oysters. We selected West Coast Chef Creek British Columbia. They were a winning blend of salty and sweet. They did not overpower the palate and were quite tasty. I believe we temporarily forgot we were in New England.
In future visits, I plan to order 6 West Coast and 6 East Coast Oysters for comparison because New England Oysters are mouthwatering by nature. I believe we fell into our habit of reverting to West Coast Oysters because that is our New York habit.
We ordered a bottle of the Chimney Rock, Stags Leap District, Cabernet Savignon 2015 from Napa Valley, California. I tasted a cherry and blackberry note, while my husband aptly described it as “Oaky.” It is medium bodied, our most favorite and one I would recommend to accompany your steak dinner. Keep in mind, the wine selction is expansive, so should you prefer a fuller body or something lighter, you will not be at a loss.
I chose the Steak Frites accompanied by Sauteed Spinach and Asiago French Fries. French Fries are my Achilles Heel, but I did ask that they “held the Asiago”, which was perfectly “O.K.” with the restaurant. The steak was good. It was not my most favorite, but ordering a medium preparation produced one that was moist and tender to cut. The spinach was marvelous to a point that I would describe as “unbelievable.”
A rich blend of garlic and olive oil served just at the right temperature, without being overly marinated in oil. The texture was the perfect blend of firm without being stiff and not nearing onto soggy, but still tender. You have to order it.
It has been a few days since this meal and I look back on the spinach fondly.
The French Fries were more than worth the splurge. My son had an order of French Fries, and rated them “best ever.”
My husband enjoyed the Steak Salad on an Iceberg Wedge with Blue Cheese. I am told it was “awesome.” The presentation was beautiful and he ordered it medium rare. He would not share, so let us take his word for it!
Should you find yourself traveling, or if you live nearby and have not tried, we highly recommend it.
It was a lovely surprise in a casino and shopping environment and one that I would make the trip back to for a visit.
David Burke Prime Steakhouse
Grand Pequot Tower
Foxwoods Resort Casino
350 Trolley Line Blvd.
Angela Ranieri joins us as Contributing Editor with an extensive background in Fashion, Beauty and Digital Media. She has worked with PRADA USA Corp., Jurlique, Amore Pacific and the New York Daily News in management capacities including Marketing, Client Relations, Employee Relations and Training Management. She has authored and published the column, “Ask Angela,” featured on the Amore Pacific USA website. Her beauty advice has been featured in Shape and Fitness Magazines and CBS News.
She is a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Writing. Angela also has an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University. While at Northeastern, her Market Research on the Electric Car was published for University use.
Angela is currently creator of Circuit Cosmetics, a Brand Ambassador for luxury beauty line, Patchology, an On Air Guest for QVC and blogger for www.thelaughinmommy.blogspot.com.
In her spare time you can find Angela running, spinning, practicing yoga or getting beautified. She resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her Husband, Son, and Chihuahuas.