Casino File: Drink, dine, dance at Vibe, at Harrah’s AC's Pool After Dark; Harry’s Oyster Bar ends Bally's run
Pheasant under glass may not be on the Vibe Dining bill of fare, but everything else on the menu is literally served that way. That's because Vibe Dining is the latest innovation at The Pool After Dark, which sits below a dramatic, 90-foot-high glass beehive at Harrah's Casino Resort Atlantic City.
The Vibe Dining concept was introduced at the beginning of summer. It’s the brainchild of Kyle Richardson, who directs the operations at the facility which, since its 2007 debut, has been a hotel swimming facility during the day and one of the hottest dance clubs on the East Coast by night.
When the gaming industry started its post-COVID-19-shutdown revival, Richardson, 42, suspected something new and different was needed to help draw people back to The Pool. “I looked at the nightlife industry throughout the country pretty seriously and realized the experience has to be enhanced to a little bit more than just coming in [for the] DJ,” says Richardson, who entered the gaming industry as a restaurant dish-washer at Bally’s Atlantic City.
To accomplish that, Richardson and his crew devised a two-pronged strategy utilizing food and live entertainment.
Vibe Dining is offered between 7 and 11 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. Guests are seated at high-tops as well as the cabanas that ring the space. However, all diners (who are waived from paying the 11 p.m. cover charge should they choose to stay) must vacate the cabanas by 11 or pay the table-service fee, which can run well into the thousands.
The menu isn’t particularly extensive, but it does cover a variety of informal-dining bases, offering, among other items, tacos, sliders, dim sum and sushi. But in this case “informal-dining” does not mean “moderately priced.”
The most inexpensive item is the slider dish; $23 gets you three Kobe beef and three Impossible beef (non-meat) mini-sandwiches and a side dish of sweet potato and golden Yukon fries. On the extreme other end, there are the offerings that feed six for $390 (the seafood tower) and $270 (truffle mac-and-cheese-stuffed lobster.
While both represent splurge dining, they also offer value: A recent visit suggested the seafood tower (chilled lobster, lump crab, snow crab, shrimp, drunken kiss and Cape May salt oysters, little neck clams and bloody Marys) for two can easily feed three adults and may even be bountiful enough for four. Likewise, the stuffed lobster.
The dining-hours entertainment includes dancers, aerialists and a fire manipulator as well as a DJ. All follow a very specific game plan.
“The DJ starts at 7, and 7 to 8, the music is very subdued,” explains Richardson. “At 8, he starts to turn it up. Then there's a fire performer. There's a girl in a bubble. “You might see aerialists, or dancers. They usually start about 8:30 or so. The [DJ’s] volume keeps increasing up to 11, and then it becomes the nightclub.
“We make it a party-style dinner where people can come in, share plates, have fun. You can get a bottle of champagne. You can get a huge plate of tacos for you and your friends.
“So, [Vibe Dining] is like the pregame.”
End of the line at Harry’s
You have but 10 days to have one last meal (or, perhaps, your first one) at Harry’s Oyster Bar & Seafood, the decade-old dining-and-drinking outpost at Bally’s Atlantic City.
The Dougherty Family, whose Dock’s Oyster House is an almost-125-year-old landmark, issued a statement explaining that their lease on the eatery that includes the lawn that sits between Harry’s and the Boardwalk has expired. No word on what is planned as a replacement.