The Niagara Blog:
Executive Chef Raymond Taylor's Fine Cuisine at the Fallsview Casino Resort
View of Falls from 21 Club, photo by Mike Keenan
Energetic Executive Chef, Raymond Taylor, happily walks us through his robust kitchens and not one but two prized Four Diamond restaurants under his care at the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, noting
the stylish Chef's Tables sequestered inside each kitchen which can command $200-$500 per plate from myriad high rollers and top notch entertainers who often drop by around 9 pm.
He introduces us to Chadi Khairallah, Chef de Cuisine at
and Claudio Marchese, Chef de Cuisine at
, his affable
colleagues, and we are encouraged to sample appetizers first in 21 Club then our main course in Ponte Vecchio, the best of both
Taylor has led the culinary team here for 6 years. With cheerful demeanor, he explains that he started as a dishwasher at age 11 in
, employed at a small inn, and that he helped the chef in his spare time. Gradually, he increased both kitchen time and talent, and a sparkling 25-year career has carried him around the world from England's renowned five-star
May Fair Hotel
to London's iconic five-star
and the award-winning
, then on to
Victoria's Fairmont Empress
and later, the
Fairmont Hotel Macdonald
in Edmonton. He worked at
The Westin Harbour Castle
Orilla's Casino Rama
, the luxury resort
One & Only Ocean Club
in Nassau, Bahamas and back north again as Executive Chef at Caesars Windsor, before laying down roots in Niagara. In his fast-paced environment, Chef Taylor may be responsible for directing up to 10,000 meals a day. Nonetheless, he looks quite fit, and explains that he works out two hours each day!
In 21 Club, we enjoy a tremendous view of the falls through large glass windows. In the distance we see the huge Niagara Falls Ferris Wheel and the looming Skylon Tower beside us. From the attractive outdoor patio, which draws camera aficionados, we observe an orderly herb garden below as well as a spurting fountain that entertains some children.
The bulky (and heavy) menus are magically lit up with LEDs when opened. The floor embodies an appropriate Niagara wave-like effect, and the room is nicely hushed for intimate dining. Our appetizers are delectable. We share crab cake with Remoulade sauce, arugula; scallops with crushed avocado and sweet peas; and tomato salad with buffalo milk mozzarella and aged balsamic, organic olive oil. We sip New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, 2011. It's a wonderful start.
Mario Prudente, Director of both restaurants, accompanies us downstairs for the main course. He gives us a brief tour of the specialty areas - the Noodle Bar and the Sushi and Oyster Bar that flourish in the early hours from 1-5 am. He purchases the wine, and his collection is truly impressive - 700 labels and 7,000 bottles from the best vineyards around the world.
brings back happy travel memories for my spouse; it's a famous bridge that spans the Arno River in Florence, Italy, lined by high end shops such as jewelry stores, exclusive retail and art dealers.
Located off of the gaming floor by the Salon Privé, Ponte Vecchio features fine Italian dining, surrounded by an old world atmosphere painted in rich reds. I'm tempted to order the highly-regarded Piedmontese rib steak, dry aged 30 days but at 18oz., I opt instead for the Canadian prime New York striploin at 10oz. with seasonal vegetables, roasted fingerling potatoes and cabernet sauce. Cooked perfectly, it is magnificent, and the sauce is splendid. My spouse enjoys the chicken breast parmesan with mozzarella di Bufala and tomato basil sauce and spaghetti al Pomodoro. We merrily toast our meal with fine Pinot Grigio, 2011, Santa Margherita from Valdadige, Italy. The service is impeccable with water refills and constant attention.
Although quite full, when in Rome...we finish with hand-crafted Italian gelato & sorbetti. Amazing! All of our dishes are wonderfully conceived, lovingly prepared, and skillfully presented as befits a mere 2.6 percent of the 29,000 restaurants approved by AAA/CAA to make the prestigious Four Diamond list. When in
, it's no gamble when you treat yourself to these Four Diamond gems!
Fallsview Casino Resort, Niagara Falls, Canada
DJI Phantom - Niagara Falls