Harrah’s New Orleans – Food and Fun Big Easy Style

Harrah’s New Orleans – Food and Fun Big Easy Style

Last weekend the GtG crew took a trip to New Orleans for a tour of Harrahs.

New Orleans is one of the truly great vacation destinations for
young and old alike. Jazz and blues clubs are everywhere, playing some
of the best music that seems to carry out into the streets. The food is
outstanding and distinctive from other regions of the US, with the
Cajun and Creole influences the different dishes will keep you full at
every meal. Harrah’s offers the visitors of New Orleans gambling excitement and fine food right in the French Quarter

Note: If we mention names in this article that’s because those people stood out due to outstanding service or personality.

Also you might notice that authors are now credited for the sections
they researched and wrote. I am the editor and I write the casino
review, however, I want to make sure everyone knows our other staff
members as well.

The Casino:

Upon entering the Canal Street entrance you are seeming transported
to Las Vegas. The decor is 100% New Orleans, with bright carpet and a
colorful layout. Although some people might never look up, the ceiling
is painted with a great theme of the Big Easy sky, with stars that seem
to twinkle and almost say “”its a good day to gamble””. The Casino is
well lit but not to the point of being bright or harsh on the eyes. As
you enter the casino you are greeted by an ID checkpoint, the staff is
very good about letting those who are obviously over 21 walk right in
to the fun. As you venture into the main walkway a few things might
catch your eye, Fuddruckers Hamburgers, Starbucks Coffee, and
Macalister’s deli. This is a great idea, to allow the casino patrons
fast access to their favorite foods. Funny enough, the Vegas casinos
could learn something from this, rather than walk to the ends of the
earth to find these places, Harrah’s has put them in an easy to access
location. As you continue from the front of the Casino to the interior
a row of table games lines the way. Blackjack, Caribbean Stud, Let it Ride, Three Card
Poker, Roulette and Craps can all be found. We arrived on Saturday
morning, most of the tables were $15 minimum, this included Craps and
Roulette. During Sunday, several tables dropped to $10 minimums, but
the $15 tables still out numbered the lower limits. On Monday a few $5
tables could be found, however the limits went back up to $10 as the
clocks turned the hour at 3pm. Personally, I like there to be at least
one $5 table, so that the casino can say we always have $5 tables.
However, a pit boss explained the casinos view of this, with lower
limit tables there are often 3 and 4 deep waiting to play. This leads
to a higher numbers rotating into the game, which takes time to cash
the new players in and get the game started again. So by having $10
tables they are able to keep the game going and the action at a steady

As we continue our journey into the center of the casino we are met
with a long line of people waiting to cash out from the 1 of 2 cages.
This is mostly temporary as I was informed by a staff member in the
casino cage, the casino is modernizing with several changes to the way
cash and cashing out is handled. The first step is eliminating coins
for the slot machines, you will find only coin less machines that use
the “”Ticket system”” in this casino. I view this as both good and bad,
the good part is that cashing out can now be done at “”ATM”” style
machines that accept your ticket and give you the cash. Another good
point is that there are no more dirty coins to deal with and no more
loud clanking sounds that can be nerve racking. The bad part is that
the machines have been changed to no longer accept $1 bills, only $5
bills and up. The next step is making the ticket cash in stations easy
to access and easy to find. This was being done while we were there, 6
cash in machines (near the main cage) were being installed and set back
within the wall for a nice flush look. After these tasks are completed
the lines for cashing in should be greatly reduced. Even at the longest
line witnessed by our crew we clocked the wait time at 20 min. from end
of line to leaving the cage window with money in hand.

Skipping across the casino floor takes us to the Harrah’s Poker
Room. A nice 20 table area, playing Texas Hold’em (limit and no limit)
Omaha Hold’em (limit, no limit and pot limit), and Seven card stud,
separated from the rest of the casino by a waist high wall that keeps
the number of on lookers down. The noise level at times can be high,
but I think is very tolerable and does not impose on play. Another
great feature is the 5 non smoking tables in back of the room, this
makes play much more enjoyable for those who do not enjoy smoking while
playing. The poker room also validates parking for the Harrah’s garage
and has a nice jackpot for bad beats in Omaha, Hold’em and 7 stud.

Past the poker room we come to the Besh steakhouse and Harrah’s
buffet which will be detailed in the Food section later in this review.

Once past the buffet we arrive at the high limit area, both in
tables and slots. The high limit slots are located in the center of the
room with a short wooden wall dividing these slots from the rest of the
slots in the area. Here you can play $5, $10, and $25 dollar slots,
along with video poker. Set two feet higher than the rest of the room,
the high limit tables offer Baccarat, Pai Gow, and Blackjack for the
higher limit player. These tables range from $50 to $500 minimums. To
make it easier for the people in the high limit areas a cash out cage
is hidden adjacent to the high limit area, this is alot safer than
walking back through the casino for these individuals who might be
carrying higher than normal amounts of chips. Across from the high
limit areas you will find The Earl Turner Theater, which takes us to
the Entertainment section.

The Entertainment:

The Earl Turner show
is the main entertainment item for Harrah’s New Orleans. Earl Turner
has been performing for the last 21 years in various venues in Vegas
and now calls New Orleans home. After 21 years you would expect someone
to tire or maybe their showman ship to drop down a little, Earl Turner
proves that adage wrong. His show is a mix of singing and audience
interaction. Mr. Turner works the crowd to a level that I have not seen
before, he is ready for anything and has a quick response to everyone.
During the show a man who had been drinking, a little more than his
share, stood up and yelled out for Mr. Turner to stop talking to the
crowd and get on with the show. Without loosing a step Earl Turner had
a comment that made the man happy and the crowd laugh. If that was all
the show I had seen I would have returned regardless. However, this was
just the beginning, for an hour and half Earl Turner sang some great
hits of James Brown, Ike and Tina, and Ray Charles to name a few. From
start to finish Earl Turner brings an energetic show to everyone.
Although his show was mainly occupied by an older crowd (average age of
45) the Earl Turner show would also be enjoyed by someone younger and
maybe even younger than 21, Mr. Turner does a great jab to the hip hop
culture, in the form of a small song and dance with a little dress up.
I would also like to do a quick mention of the Earl Turner Band, the
guitarist and bassist were show stoppers, with quick fingers and a
wonderful rich sound they both did amazing solos. The bassist had been
with The Earl Turner Show since it started 21 years ago, he moves and
looks a lot like Chuck Berry, even though he never spoke his facial
expressions and dancing were breath taking. Tickets are $27.95 each,
and shows run Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The Improve
comedy club is new to Harrah’s, also in the Earl Turner theater this
show performs on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Since we
were not able to see the show because of a computer mix up (Yes I
understand the irony of a computer mix up being a computer person). We
were able to ask a few people coming out of the 10pm show on Saturday,
about how they enjoyed the comedians. Of the six people who stopped and
talked with us, they all had great things to say about the show. Funny,
bust a gut, and left me in tears came a few times. Based on these
peoples input, I am sure the show would be a fun time for any age group
(able to get into the casino).

Future Entertainment:

In construction now The Masquerade evening show, I can not tell you
much about this new entertainment experience but it promises to be the
place for high end after hours entertainment. In the center of the
casino is a construction zone boarded up and painted black with these
words listed: Erotic, Exciting, Sensual, and Stimulating. I hope to
make it back there in Summer 2005 to see what this hidden treasure

Future Hotel:

Harrah’s is currently building its own 450 room hotel just across
the street, next to the casinos parking garage. This new hotel will
offer guests great room accommodations and will include a Michael
Jordon Sports Bar and several shopping venues in order to complete the
package of a world class Hotel Casino.

Drink Service: written by Mike

One big perk about gambling in casinos is the free drinks.  If you
prefer a coke, a cold beer, or a mixed drink, it is always nice to have
one to sip on while playing a slot or sitting out that poker hand.  It
is always nice to have them delivered to you in a timely fashion.  Not
to mention some of the skimpy outfits that the waitresses wear.  I know
when I sit down at a table or a slot I don’t feel so bad loosing my
money if I am able to have a drink or two. I just think oh well, I
bought a few drinks, and move on the next table or slot. Overall the
drink service I received at Harrah’s in New Orleans was poor, and
sporadic.  There were however a couple of times and areas of the casino
that I noticed to have better service.

There were times when I could be sitting at a slot ($1 and even $5)
where I was able to over an hour without being asked by a wait person
if I would like a drink. There were even times when I asked a passing
waiter/waitress and got the response “Sorry, this is not my
section”.  To me this was an unacceptable answer.  I know if
I responded to a client with a similar response I would be looking for
a new job.  This happened on a few occasions to me, and I know of a
similar instance to another member of my crew.  I also experienced
extremely long waits on many occasions when the casino appeared not to
be overly crowded.  These waits were in excess of 10-15min, and in a
couple of cases I had completely forgotten I ordered a drink by the
time it arrived.  I understand that at times when the casino is crowded
such as a Friday or Saturday evening that my wait time should be
longer, but I experienced this in off times such as Monday morning, and
at times when there were only a handful of visible people gambling

That being said it was not a terrible experience. There were a few
highlights with the drink service. Over in the slot area by the Earl
Turner theater, there was a waitress named Marylyn working the early
Monday morning shift (about 3am). Not only did she come by after I was
playing for about 10 minutes, but told me my drink would be out in 5-7
minutes. She actually gave me a time frame of when I could expect to
have my drink. At this point I took it upon myself and timed her. It
took her just a little over 5 minutes to return with my drink. What
great service, and I did not have to spend time wondering when my drink
would come.  I had another good experience playing Caribbean stud in
pit 4 (the area of tables by the main entrance).  It took a little
while to place my first order as there area was busy and there was only
one waiter working the entire pit, so my first couple of drinks came
slowly.  When I saw my waiter (Cory) coming to my table, I wanted to
make sure to get my order in before he walked away.  To my surprise
before I could even say what I wanted to order, he said would you like
another.  When I told him yes he handed me my next drink.  I was
totally in shock.  Not only did he remember what I was drinking, but he
was johnny on the spot with my next round.  This continued the whole
time I stayed in this area.  I also noticed he was doing the same to
other players in the area.  Service does not get much better than this.

When going into the casino, be prepared to wait, and have difficulty
getting drinks.  My suggestion would be to hit Bourbon Street before
you go, or have a drink or two with dinner.  Also, when you get into
the casino look for Cory, or Marylyn as they will get you your drinks
quickly so that you can keep on gambling, and not worrying about when
your next round will arrive.  Kudos to those two. As for the rest of
the staff, there is room for improvement.

The Food: written by Jory

Harrah’s Besh Steakhouse

*please note that all pictures come from the

Harrah’s Website

so the bold GtG explorers were hungry and sought out the fine
cuisine of the renowned Besh Steakhouse of the Harrah’s Casino.
Dudemac, Maximus, Mike & Jory donned their mildly elegant wear and
walked into the chic and classy atmosphere of the steakhouse. The Besh
Steakhouse can be found in the Harrah’s Casino of New Orleans and
displays some excellent Blue Dog art as you enter.

It was early evening of Sunday, February 27th, 2005. The air was
crisp outdoors and the casino was bustling and noisy within. Once
inside the steakhouse though, you would never have believed you were
within such a busy Vegas-style casino. It surprisingly seats 150 people
in amazing comfort. The thick carpeting, heavy curtains and cloth
chairs absorb the noise of the casino rendering a pleasant quiet
whereby one may conduct a business meal or engage in good conversation
while eating.

The GtG explorers settled in for a good meal and some
light-hearted talk and occasionally some verbal jabbing at one
another. They were greeted first by the head waiter, Nelson, and his
quiet assistant (a woman who really needs to smile more often). We were
seated in the center of the steakhouse where we could see the novel
view of the open kitchen, as well as the art and bar. The assistant
laid our napkins on our laps and ensured our large blue glasses of iced
water were kept fresh and full. The GtG crew perused the menu of
delicacies. The French names were lost to most save Scarlet, who is
bilingual. As they pondered on what to order, Nelson arrived and
provided excellent insight into what the chef enjoyed cooking and what
were particularly good this evening. He set down a small token
appetizer of Duck Foie Gras (duck liver) with a light spicing to
its aroma. Maximus was not at all interesting in trying it, disturbed
by the slight discoloration where the air grayed the surface of the
patte.  It was delicious non-the-less according to the others.

A petite woman, who was dressed as one of the steakhouse managers,
stopped by the table to ensure all was well. Soon Nelson approached
with a specialty from the chef, John Besh. It was a small oyster
pastry. As most of the GtGr crew were very uncertain about
oysters, they stared at the tiny pastry for many minutes until Dudemac
courageously cut and tasted his. They were then devoured quickly and
mental notes were made to compliment the chef on this little delicacy.
Ready to order, Nelson listened to each member of the team. Jory gave
Nelson the hardest time with his order, requesting a very small Caesar
salad. Why on earth was that such a difficult request? Well, the Caesar
salads that Chef Besh prepares are made from a whole Romaine lettuce
split in two so as not to bruise the leaves. That makes for very LARGE
salads and taste very good.

The appetizers arrived. Small meat pies with a cream sauce and Sweet
BBQ Creole shrimp were shared around the table, while Scarlet enjoyed
her half a baby Romaine Caesar salad to snickers from the rest of the
crew. No, I am not vegetarian.  There was relatively nothing Vegan
or Vegetarian friendly on the menu. Why would there be? It was a
steakhouse! The Meat pies were well liked by Maximus and Dudemac. The
Shrimp was a huge plate that really needed all four of the crew to eat
it. The BBQ sauce that the giant shrimps were soaking in looked a bit
like Bayou mud, but tasted fantastic is highly recommended to all in
the future! It was slightly sweet with a fine spicy peppercorn hint to
it. Maximus’ Crab Bisque Cream soup arrived and he eyed it
suspiciously finicky eater that he is. In the end, he commented with
surprise that is was pleasantly good! Jory was nibbling his salad
slowly and that seemed to hold up the delivery of the meals, as the
others groaned for solid meat substance and complained to that I should
hurry up. Soon another manager, Greg, an older gentleman, came by to
let them know their meals were ready whenever they were. Jory passed up
the last few bites of salad to placate the hungrier people at the

To the amusement and interest of the crew, the waitress or Nelson
would pass by and deftly remove any dirty cutlery, replacing it
immediately with new forks or knives.

The meals arrived one by one, enticing in their presentation. Each
dish was full of color, different textures and exquisite flavor, works
of art. Divine meals indeed! Preoccupied with the enjoyment of their
meals, the GtG crew ate mostly in silence. Jory ordered the Filet
Mignon well done. It had large crisp asparagus on the side, a rich
sauce over the beef cut and some thinly sliced potatoes (Dauphinoise)
hidden carefully under the meat to soak in the slightly sweet, very
rich gravy. Mike and Maximus ate a 30oz bone in Ribeye with gravy and
vegetables, each meal large enough to feed two! And Dudemac savored his
lamb dish. Jory’s meal was the smallest plate serving of the four,
yet still quite large and filling. All were very impressed with the
presentation, taste and serving size. Too often fine cuisine means
minuscule portions leaving the clients entertained but still hungry.
These meals were excellent.

Dessert was equally exquisite. Pineapple sorbet, chocolate
delicacies, creme brule, and a complimentary dessert were laid before
the crew. Mike had not ordered any dessert yet was presented with the
creme brule and greatly appreciated it, especially with the amazingly
fresh fruit on the side. Dudemac and Maximus each received a dish with
three large chocolates. The cherry tort was wonderful topped with a
sherry sorbet. The liquor chocolate on the other end of the plate was
tasty. The large pyramid was looked at for a long time. Maximus was
very uncertain about eating the gold leafing on the point of the
pyramid as Dudemac teased him how it is good luck to eat it. Maximus
finally ate it and waited for Dudemac to crack his own pyramid and tell
the crew how the banana filling tasted. The pineapple sorbet I ordered
was heavenly and flavorful.

The evening was completed with a round of drinks. Jory once again
challenged Harrah.s Besh Steakhouse staff by requesting a drink mix
they never heard of, an After Eight. She had to describe the mix and
its ingredients to Nelson who assured her they could make it. (After
Eight: 2 shots Bailey’s Irish Cream, 1 shot Kahula, 1 shot Green
Creme de Menthe mixed and poured over ice) White Creme de Menthe was
used as a replacement and definitely sharpened the taste a bit, but it
was exactly what I was looking for to top of the meal. Mike and Dudemac
each drank different types of port. Dudesma’s Fonesca 10-year port
had a good flavor with mellow tones of oak and a fragrant bouquet,
while Mike’s was similar but was slightly less sweet.

The service, save for a few noted moments, was excellent and
courteous. The GtG crew was treated almost like royalty. What was
good to see was that all other customers received similar treatment.
Anyone could show up wearing dressy casual to formal wear and all are
equally treated like royalty. The crew offers high compliments to
Harrah’s Besh Steakhouse and their fine chef, John Besh, rating them
5 stars!

ASIDE: Chef John Besh is a Louisiana-born man having been
raised with the richness of flavor only found here in the heart of the
state. He was formerly a US Marine who served during Operation Desert
Storm. On return, his fascination with the culinary arts called him to
learn and share with a unique gift. He studied in America, Germany,
France, yet has been drawn home to Louisiana leave his mark on the
world in New OrleansHarrah’s Casino in the Steakhouse that now
bears his name.

The Buffet: written by Dudemac

While not as high end as the Besh Steakhouse the Harrah’s buffet
does not disappoint. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner are all served
daily. With a Champange Brunch on Sundays. The food was extremely
good, with fresh steamed crawfish and gumbo on the menu everyday other
items are also included that give selections for everyone. Asian and
Italian food are both offered up on the menu daily. The deserts were my
favorite with a huge selection of pies, cakes and other confections.
Something I did notice is that on a Monday afternoon several people
from near by offices came in to eat at the Harrah’s buffet. I stopped
one young woman and asked her why this place? She replied “”The food is
very good for a great price, and we never have to settle for going out
to just one kind a restaurant””. To have local people eat at a casino
buffet says a lot for the food and service.

On a side note: Ask to be seated in the dining room of the buffet
area, its a separate room that is decorated like a dining room in a
palace. Fabric and Mirrors line the walls while an elaborate light
fixture hangs from the ceiling.

Overall: written by Dudemac

Having been to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and the other top gambling
destinations, I would recommended Harrah’s New Orleans for those who
are looking for something more and just gambling. New Orleans offers a
few things that these other locations do not, great food and the unique
New Orleans atmosphere. Even though its hard to get a drink at times,
the food is worth it alone. I would make a trip back to New Orleans
just to go eat at the Besh Steakhouse, there was not one member of our
staff who did not completely enjoy their meal. New Orleans is not like
Vegas or any other gambling get away, people go to New Orleans for the
great food and entertainment, but while there, there is no place better
to gamble than Harrah’s New Orleans.

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