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AC From A to F: A Casino Report Card
We missed the unveiling of Xhibition -- a circular affair on the casino floor with plasma TVs, a wall of liquor and comfy seating -- by a few days, but we'll work it into our grade anyhow. Harrah's was already a winner because of its rockin' Eden Lounge, featuring a deejay and a horde of revelers in a fake garden, and its neighboring Sapphire Bar -- blue-hued, chic and as classy as the rest of the resort.
The new art-deco decor is certainly slick, but with little to do but gamble, Resorts is a comparative snooze. The addition of the hip Nikki Beach bar complex this summer should shake things up.
All hail Swingers, which elevates this otherwise lackluster casino. The shockingly happening spot sits in mid-casino and features a bar with a stage behind it. We watched as a band too young to have heard the song when it premiered performed "Love Train" -- and got the crowd to boogie. We also liked the Copa Lounge, a cool retro piano bar tucked off to the side.
Nothing but row after row of slot machines right now (not even a bar in sight), but we'll have to check back in the summer after its gigantic, much vaunted $65 million House of Blues arrives.
AC's undisputed star . . . for now. You can't stray far without bumping into some sort of fun diversion, be it the clubs and bars of the Quarter (including Cuba Libre, the Sound of Philadephia, the Comedy Stop and Red Square, with its vodka bar); the dueling pianos in the Tiffany Lounge; the solo warblers at Tango's; or, just off the boardwalk, the 100-plus beers and dark dance floor at Firewaters.
Color us surprised. The Trump Marina contains one of AC's nastiest casinos, and it's difficult to get to the resort, but we liked the bar just off the casino floor (nothing fancy, but accessible and featuring college basketball on a suspended TV) and loved the Wave, an unwalled disco/lounge packed with partiers.
The Poker Bar was a grim affair with little chatter among the wishful thinkers trying to coax royal flushes out of draw poker machines. Otherwise, save for a sedate bar off the boardwalk, the most memorable thing about the Plaza were the grumbling gamblers who could barely move in the casino's tight quarters.
On past visits, the Taj's Casbah disco was loud and obnoxious -- and that was just its patrons. Thus, we were taken aback by the tranquil scene when we saw nothing but a few bachelor parties at the so-so bar outside the club; we're told, however, that it really cranked up after we left. Still, we have to give the Taj a half-grade deduction for the cheesy mock-up of the "Appentice" set near the casino floor.