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Empire City Casino rolls the dice on new restaurant
While it seems as unlikely as rolling triple snake eyes at backgammon, a consulting company run by one of the world’s most famous chefs has created a sleek new diner-like restaurant at the sprawling Empire City Casino in Yonkers. On June 19, Ducasse Studio, the consulting arm of Alain Ducasse Entreprise, opened pinch, a 245-seat space designed to lure gamblers of every type, temperament, bankroll, and luck. Ducasse Studio collaborated with developer Mark Advent on the project.
Ducasse, 56, is one of the world's most decorated chefs, and the first to win three Michelin stars in three different cities. One might wonder why a world-renowned chef was engaged to produce glorified diner grub. The answer comes from Tim Rooney, Jr., whose family owns the casino.
“It's casual food done incredibly well,” Rooney said. “We thought our customers would enjoy a little luxe with their mac and cheese.”
Ducasse first gained celebrity status at age 33 as chef of Le Louis XV restaurant in the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco. His global enterprise now comprises more than 20 restaurants, three inns in Europe, a culinary publishing house, cooking schools and a consulting company called Ducasse Studio, which developed pinch. His ingredient-focused cooking style favors light, minimally garnished ingredients with an emphasis on seasonal vegetables. The chef at pinch is Fabienne Eymard, who most recently was executive sous chef at Ducasse’s Manhattan bistro, Benoit.
The “premium casual” pinch has a sporty industrial style design with high ceilings, shiny red accents, tailored banquettes and a floating, glass-enclosed keg room with 100 beers on tap, overlooking the kitchen and raw bar. The suds theme extends to tableside tap machines that allow guests to serve themselves. Beer lovers can also bring their own growlers. The 80-bottle wine list features mostly of American and French selections, with most in the $30 to $60 range.
The menu is straightforward and for the most part traditional American. Among the items: scallops ceviche ($16), mini beef short rib tacos ($14), deviled grilled chicken ($24), beer-marinated grilled skirt steak ($15), leg of lamb with eggplant and feta cheese ($17), pork belly burger ($18) and key lime pie ($8). There is a sandwich selection as well, in the $12 to $17 range.
Info: 810 Yonkers Ave., Yonkers; 914-457-2541; www.pinchusa.com