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Twain's Would Have Made Mark Happy

13 November 2003

As critical as Mark Twain could be, he would not have satirized his namesake restaurant at Sam's Town but no doubt would have experienced a wonderful dining experience, complete with his beloved cigars.

I can't speak for Twain or write like him so please bear with me in this review of an evening that was simple overwhelming.

A year ago I could not have written this article in the same light as under the direction of Director of Food & Beverage Director, Jack Elia, who is fairly new at the casino, and his new executive chef, Barry Rhodes, Twain's has achieved lofty heights over recent months.

The room's ambience is still the same with soft, low lighting but the cuisine has undergone considerable and pleasing change and Rhode's new menu is now in place ready for your own personal review. I don't think you will be disappointed.

Californian Jason Sartain greeted our party with an easy manner, and made us feel comfortable. Jason does more than manage the room; he is a level 3 sommelier, which is the French word for wine steward. Jason apparently is the only level 3 in Tunica Resorts, which is the second highest rank, only Grand Sommelier being higher.

After sampling a complimentary crab dip and crackers in a semi-private room off the main dining area, our friendly server introduced us toTwain's Specialty Drinks and it was off to martini land with beverages that would have pleased even a critical Mark Twain.
The William B. Martini was a hit, with Tanqueray Sterling Vodka and Peach Schnapps but the Gold Rush also drew praise with its mix of Cuervo, triple sec and cranberry. The laughter and conversation picked up a notch.

After we ordered our entrees, Jason appeared with a wine list and we invited him to make an appropriate selection. He suggested a hard-to-find 2000 merlot from Hartwell in Napa and this appellation turned out to be so pleasing that after three bottles our palates were still ready for more but dinner intervened. It was easily the very best merlot this writer has experienced. The wine menu had a long and varied list of selections and we also sampled a fine Louis Latour white from Meursault, France. Twain's Reserve Listing also offered Dom Perignon '93 and '95, Penfolds, an Australian red'97, and Clodin Leroy Vlonay Satemonts, a '99 white from France, among other fine wines

Rhodes visited with us and described the preparation and cooking for our various selections. With casino experience as well as being an executive sous chef at the Hotel Inter-Continental in Miami, New Orleans and Los Angeles and after working at the Hotel Borobudor Inter-Continental in Jakarta, Moscow and Geneva, it behooved us to pay attention to the Englishman's presentation.

Appetizers soon appeared and Lobster Tempura with melted butter and wasabi mayonnaise received the best praise of all without a word as two servings disappeared quickly but still leaving room for some grilled sugar cane skewered shrimp with golden pineapple salsa. Other selections available included jumbo lump crabmeat cocktail seared pepper crusted Ahi tuna and avocado with horseradish sauce and a trio of crabs including king crab legs, crab stuffed oysters and crab cake.

Passing on the traditional Caesar's, we tried a non-traditional salad of Noccellini Mozzarella with tomatoes under a balsamic dressing and another, spinach salad with watercress with blue cheese and walnut vinaigrette.

Steak from the wood fired hearth dominates the menu so when in Rome do as the Romans do and we turned our attention to a 24 ounce Chateaubriand for two and whole Maine lobster, a three-pounder. One guest being, 6-5 and 250 on the scales, opted for the 32 ounce Porterhouse steak, passing up to his chagrin, the 64 ounce extreme Porterhouse. He explained why…"I'm on a diet." Some diet, that.

The steaks were tender, the lobster delightful and the big Porterhouse gentleman never spoke as he slaughtered his victim. He liked it, obviously.

But as steaks predominate, other selections provide some variance. To chose from there is smoked Cajun prime rib of beef, veal and shrimp over fettuccine, free range herb rotisserie chicken, Alaskan king crab legs, and pistachio and tomato crusted Chilean sea bass, as well as market price catch of the day.

There was a good selection of side dishes but we went with the chef's recommendation and he was right on the Savoyard potatoes. A must with steak!

Topping of the evening with Starbucks coffee, we also tried some fine important hand-wrapped cigars from an amply stocked humidor and then it was downstairs to the tender mercies of the casino floor. But the memory is that Twain's had made considerable improvement over past times and is highly deserving of a visit. We'll be back

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Best of Rudi Schiffer
Rudi Schiffer

Rudi Schiffer is a long time columnist and contributing writer for Jackpot Magazine, the South’s leading gaming publication, and for casinocitytimes.com, the world’s leading casino industry internet news distributor. He is also owner and co-host of the 20-year-old Goodtimes Radio Show, now simulcast on Fridays from 3-6 PM Central Time from Country Classic 1180 AM, Memphis networked with KMIS 1050 AM, and 103.9 KGLU FM from Kennet, MO covering parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. His radio show is also archived at audiovegas.com. A Boston University Journalism graduate, he resides in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Voice of Tunica" for his support the gaming jurisdiction for two decades, he was also recently named to Memphis Business Quarterly Magazine’s 3rd annual “The Power Players, Who’s Who” of Memphis.He is also a contributing writer for Southern Gaming & Entertainment and Mississippi Gaming.

Rudi Schiffer Websites:

www.AudioVegas.com
Rudi Schiffer
Rudi Schiffer is a long time columnist and contributing writer for Jackpot Magazine, the South’s leading gaming publication, and for casinocitytimes.com, the world’s leading casino industry internet news distributor. He is also owner and co-host of the 20-year-old Goodtimes Radio Show, now simulcast on Fridays from 3-6 PM Central Time from Country Classic 1180 AM, Memphis networked with KMIS 1050 AM, and 103.9 KGLU FM from Kennet, MO covering parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. His radio show is also archived at audiovegas.com. A Boston University Journalism graduate, he resides in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Voice of Tunica" for his support the gaming jurisdiction for two decades, he was also recently named to Memphis Business Quarterly Magazine’s 3rd annual “The Power Players, Who’s Who” of Memphis.He is also a contributing writer for Southern Gaming & Entertainment and Mississippi Gaming.

Rudi Schiffer Websites:

www.AudioVegas.com