The Reserve at Bally’s Atlantic City has always been a great Atlantic City steakhouse joint, but when Chef Joseph Muldoon took over (at the ripe young age of 24), he plumped up the menu with a little more Pacific Rim-influence and seafood dishes to boot.
We wandered in one night in search of a good meal and wandered out with an extremely full tum tum and a smile on our face. Chef Muldoon and his staff were so friendly and attentive that it made us wonder if we were still in Jersey! Just kidding. (This blog is Jersey bred, so we are allowed to make such jokes). But the team at The Reserve is super nice and know what they’re doing.
Check out this must see meal from The Reserve followed by a little Q&A with Chef Joseph Muldoon.
Words can’t describe how glad we are that we ordered the Shichimi Dusted Dayboat Scallops for our “light fare” because they were so freakin tasty that we wish they came in an endless bowl. We could have seriously eaten them all night long.
They are tossed with Vanilla Crème, Housemade Kabayaki Drizzle on top of Pan Fried Himalayan Red Rice.
For the entrees, we decided on a delish Chicken Breast topped with Arugula, Tomatoes and Rock Shrimp on top some tender Risotto (above) and the the Sake Marinated Bass (below).
This was so good we licked our plate clean until the plate was white again. We must note that two nearby diners were so impressed with this that they decided to copy our order.
This dish comes with Okinawan Purple Potatoes and is sauteed with Shitake and Edamame in Natural Pan Jus and Topped with Toasted Sesame and Arugula. Om nom.
By the time dessert came, we decided on two classic Crème Brûlées – an original and a chocolate.
About three seconds later, Chef Muldoon decided to surprise us with pretty much every other dessert item on the menu.
Cheesecakes (Whipped Strawberry with Ground Oreo, traditional and flan)…
Smaller sugary bites aka “Reserved” (Roasted Banana Pineapple mousse, Fruit Flavored Marshmallow, Key Lime Lolli with a Pretzel Graham Cracker Crumb and Deconstructed Strawberry Meringue) …
And a huge, wonderful, amazing Banana Bread French Toast Sundae…
Yes, that is topped with Vanilla Gelato, Chocolate Ganache, Cinnamon, Sugar, Roasted Pineapple, Glazed Banana, and Walnut Amoretti Crumbles.
He didn’t even have to sweeten us up, he already answered our questions, but that is the kind of above and beyond service this staff provides. Learn more below.
TAC: What do you attribute most of your professional success to as you landed your first head chef gig at The Reserve at age 24?
Chef Muldoon: I hold my food to a higher standard. My mother was a home-ec teacher so I had a spoon in my hand since I was 3 years-old. I had a mentor before I went to school and all of those things really enabled me to focus on my passion for food instead of learning the craft; that was already done when I went to school.
TAC: Was there a particular meal or situation that made you want to become a chef when you were younger?
Chef Muldoon: The first thing I cooked for myself that I was happy about was I sautéed a whole bowl of onions and I ate the whole bowl. As gross as that sounds, I was so happy that I did that. If I have to go back to anything in the beginning, it was probably that bowl of onions I ate. That’s my only recollection, but there was no definitive meal I ate where I said ‘Oh My God, I’ve got to be a chef’.
TAC: Have you ever had to fight through any adversity because of your age?
Chef Muldoon: I’ve always had a very good understanding of how important it is to get everyone on board to share the same passion that I do. I don’t allow myself to have adversity because I’ve always surrounded myself with a very good group of people. We have a great group of professionals here that I’m very proud to be in the same kitchen with.
TAC: When you first started to you wanted to turn The Reserve into a great seafood restaurant in addition to a great steakhouse. What seafood dishes on your menu are you most proud of and do you think speak true to that?
Chef Muldoon: We used to have 8 fish offerings and now we have it down to three really, really well executed dishes. Our Sake Marinated Sea Bass with the Okinawan Purple Potatoes, it’s a very diverse and culturally different dish and speaks to the time I spent in Maui. Also, our Salmon Nicoise. That is The Reserve’s twist on a classic French preparation. What we do a lot is take classic styles that people can recognize, and then we also incorporate our own creative twists. Our Macadamian Crusted Halibut is our seasonal dish. We have a Parsnip and Pear Puree Halibut that is in season right now. We’re getting some beautiful cuts and beautiful thick filets tossed with Sea Bean and Heirloom Tomato Salad. Heirloom tomatoes are in season all year long, but when Jersey tomatoes come in, it’s going to be a great dish with them. And our sea bass takes a lot of the Pacific Hawaiian fusion that I first brought to Reserve when I was introduced to Atlantic City. It’s a perennial dish at Reserve. Those Purple Sweet Potatoes and that Sake Marinated Sea Bass, I couldn’t take off the menu. Those were two dishes and I just combined them into one.
TAC: Your brunch menu echoes this too. For those who may be unfamiliar with your brunch menu, how would you describe Atlantic City Sunday brunch at The Reserve?
Chef Muldoon: This right here even before I had my hands on it, was the most spectacular spread I’ve ever seen. We had anything from Rack Of Lamb to Sushi to Raw Oysters and Clams to Filet Mignon. Now we also have a la carte tapas. I took two great brunch concepts – a buffet, it’s very traditional, and added an a la carte tapas feature to the brunch and that’s another great concept that you see. It’s like going to a bistro and they have these a la carte tapas, these small breakfast plates that you can order as many times as you want. But you won’t have a buffet there, so now you can come here and you can have both. I guarantee you won’t find that concept anywhere in Atlantic City. Brunch is on its way out and I guarantee you we will always be here. It’s a spread that you won’t find anywhere else.
TAC: What was the approach like when recreating these menus?
Chef Muldoon: It’s a steakhouse and because it is a steakhouse, there is not commitment to any single cuisine. My approach now would be seasonal produce. We’re always going to have great steaks. What sets us apart with the steaks is the accompaniment and the sides which includes produce. What also sets us apart is the fish we bring in. I try to give a little bit of everything from each type of cuisine because we’re not committed to anything.
TAC: You love showcasing seasonal, regional ingredients. What menu items at The Reserve right now are popular this summer season?
Chef Muldoon: I had a beautiful Hawaiian Crimson Red Snapper over the weekend. We had some nice Morel Mushrooms and Trumpet Mushrooms with an English Pea Puree, Pea Tendril Salad, that’s just summer all over the place That’s what people are looking for.
TAC: And of course, what is your favorite meal of all time?
Chef Muldoon: Chicken Liver Rigatonis from a chef in Philadelphia. Hands down the best experience you can have. Mark Vetri.