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Revel restaurant lineup taking shape

All of a sudden, there is plenty of food for thought emanating from Revel, the $2,5 billion adult playground scheduled to open in mid-May in Atlantic City.

All of a sudden, there is plenty of food for thought emanating from Revel, the $2,5 billion adult playground scheduled to open in mid-May in Atlantic City.

The blanks about what the mega-resort's dining scene will entail are beginning to be filled in with some impressive names. Our sources have confirmed that restaurateur Michael Richard (not to be confused with "Seinfeld" co-star Michael Richards) of Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. fame will, as rumors have had it, bring his Central operation to Revel. Central outposts are located in both cities; the Vegas outpost, a 24-hour joint located at Caesars Palace, is a past James Beard Foundation Best New Restaurant award-winner.

This news—which has yet to be announced by Revel—comes on the heel's of Thursday's official announcement that Philly-based "Iron Chef" Jose Garces will operate three-count 'em, three—eateries, all of which are familiar names here in Brotherly Loveville: Amada, Village Whiskey and Distrito Cantina.

Finally, while reports published elsewhere have another celebrated local stove jockey, Marc Vetri (Vetri Ristorante, Osteria, Amis Trattoria), throwing in with Revel, our spies tell us what at one time seemed to be a fait accompli may no longer be a mortal lock (on a related note, what exactly was Vetri doing at last month's "Savor Borgata" gustatory orgy, which in the past has limited participation to chefs and restaurateurs already doing business at the Big B?).

Whatever the details, it's obvious no one will have to worry about going hungry at Revel.

Once again, "The Spirit of Christmas" has reared its generic head at Tropicana Atlantic City.

Back for yet another Yuletide run at the Trop (through Dec. 21), "Spirit of Christmas" follows the same, somewhat tired blueprint of having a cast of youthful singers and dancers breeze through 75 or so minutes of seasonal chestnuts, most of which are of the sectarian variety (e.g. "Winter Wonderland," "Sleigh Ride," "Santa Baby," "Most Wonderful Time Of the Year").

There is little in the way of imagination evident (unless one considers dancing penguins the height of Christmas-pageant creativity). But since I would prefer not to be included with Ebenezer Scrooge and The Grinch in the pantheon of holiday haters, suffice it to say "Spirit of Christmas" is a perfectly fine, family-friendly affair featuring an enthusiastic and engaging cast of four lead singers (two of each gender) and a high-kicking ensemble equally facile with waltzes, the "Can-Can" and Radio City Rockette-style choreography.

Perhaps more to the point, if you're looking for this kind of diversion in AyCee this holiday season, you have no choice but to see "Spirit of Christmas" as it's the only revusical game in town this month.

Tropicana, Boardwalk at Brighton Avenue, show times vary, $35 and $25, 800-736-1420,

It turned into a particularly happy holiday season for the 280 "rounders" who were playing poker at the four AyCee properties (Bally's, Caesars, Harrah's and Showboat) owned by Caesars Entertainment early Wednesday evening when the "bad beat" jackpot was hit for $285,263 at the Bally's card room.

It happened when two players who wish to remain anonymous, went heads-up with monster hands: Four sixes lost to a straight flush. The player with the "quads" won the biggest share of the prize pool, $86,089, while the one holding the straight flush pocketed $57,563 (not to mention whatever was in the pot for that hand).

The other 61 players at Bally's at the time, as well as 219 others who were playing at the other three casinos when the hand went down, each scored $510.