Johnny Pogo had just flown in from Cincinnati on the redeye. Before he hit the high-roller tables at Rivers Casino & Resort, he wanted dinner. Where else to go than Duke’s Chophouse, billed as an “upscale steakhouse,” and located to the right of the casino’s high limit gaming area?
I had wisely called for reservations at the understated restaurant with a reputation for good food. Only a few of the dozen or so tables covered with gray-blue denim-like linens were occupied at 7 p.m., but by the time we left two hours later, the restaurant was filled and several tables had already turned over once.
A lounge area with a small, rectangular bar was situated immediately outside the restaurant and served as a buffer for both noise and patrons choosing an abbreviated menu. Several high-top tables accommodated the few customers who were having a cocktail and listening to pianist du jour Cliff Brucker.
One of my personal prerequisites for a pleasant dining experience is the ability to carry on a conversation with my dinner partner. My limited experience in casinos led me to believe that the noise in this one would be loud and jangly. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not. Johnny P also noted that the noise level in Duke’s permitted conversation. We were even able to hear soft music from the piano in the lounge.
The menu was large in size, but smaller in variety. Approximately eight categories (chilled and hot appetizers, soups and salads, steaks and chops and seafood) were studded with accompaniments, enhancements and sides.
We were first served three less-than-memorable rolls with two pats of butter. A diner might expect superior bread products, since Duke’s parent establishment is Malozzi’s Villa Italia Bakery.
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Beverly M. Elander/For The Daily Gazette | June 11, 2017. “At Casino, Duke’s Doubles down on Rich Steakhouse Fare.” The Daily Gazette. Web. 12 June 2017.