Pala Casino: CAVE Restaurant, Lounge, & Wine Cave
My boyfriend, Jeff, and I love comedian Russell Peters. We've been watching his stand-ups for years online and on TV so when we heard he would be performing at Pala Casino (on J's birthday weekend no less), I knew we had to go! What a great chance to do a mini vacay and get away from the hustle and bustle of L.A. for the weekend. Plus, the drive was only going to take a little over than an hour and a half. My biggest concern, however for our weekend staycation was the food. Would a casino have good food? Would we be eating fast food all weekend long? Would I need to pack my own food? These are very real concerns for a food blogger!Pala Casino Spa & Resort After I checked in, we went off to an early dinner at the newly opened CAVE, which is a restaurant, lounge, and underground wine cave all in one. Check out the video above for my experience. Here's the exterior of Cave's restaurant and lounge sections. Cave's restaurant is a modern eatery offering Mediterranean cuisine with an Italian flair. Chef Luciano Cibell brought out the big guns. He explained how he only uses the best ingredients because he believes that good food starts from using quality ingredients. The fish he uses at Cave is wild-caught from Alaska. The beef he uses is grass-fed beef from Nebraska. Luciano also said that he sources the rest of his ingredients from local small farms and tries to use organic whenever possible.
This was the best tako I've ever had. It didn't even taste like octopus. The texture was not rubbery. Chef Luciano's octopus tasted like chicken. No joke. When you cut through the octopus, it cut so soft. It was almost like cutting imitation crab meat. I've always associated octopus with the rubbery texture and this changed my mind. Looking back on my trip, the octopus was actually one of the highlights of the weekend.
Chef Luciano started us off with a Tuna Crudo appetizer. This was his rendition of tuna tartare except the tuna was layered with avocado, mango, peperoncini, topped with edible flowers. The sweet mango tied everything together. It was so tasty that we even ate the pepper on the plate. We dusted the plate and we weren't even hungry. I was snacking in the car on the way into Pala. I know. I know. I may have a slight eating problem...The escargot was sizzling upon arrival. The escargot had panko parsley butter and creamy lemon capers. It was so buttery. Jeff and I practically had to rock, paper, scissors for the last one.
Chef Luciano putting the garnishing touches on his grilled scallops. Luciano kept reiterating how important working with good ingredients is. He hates when people try to skimp out and drench their food in rich sauces to cover up the quality of food. I couldn't agree more. Scallops with organic cherry tomatoes and edible flowers from Cave. The scallops melted with every bite. The sauce was simple. The natural sweetness of the tomatoes was all the seasoning the scallops needed. At one point during the meal, Chef Luciano walked back to the open kitchen with a large tomato. He came out minutes later with two slices of tomatoes grilled with only olive oil and a dash of salt. The tomatoes were crisp. What a difference good ingredients make!
The special of the day was skate fish. A skate fish is very similar to a stingray. But whereas stingrays are kite-shaped, skate fish are more triangular in shape. It's a very tasty fish. It's not very meaty, but it has a refreshing mild taste. And there was more! Cave had an underground wine cave, the first of its kind in Southern California.
The wine cave has over 487 different types of wine from all over the world. They also serve tapas as well. At night there's also all sorts of musical entertainment with popular jazz and R&B solo artists, duos and trios. Cave’s lounge also has a large menu of craft cocktails as well as the wine list. After an early dinner and tour of the venue, I said goodbye to my new friend.
Thank you for the meal Chef Luciano! Everything was delicious, but I will forever remember your octopus. It was amazing. At this point, we decided to head up to our room to relax and check out the available facilities.
After eating so much food, we decided to hit the gym, which is open 24 hours. It's a tiny, private gym. Everyone gets headphones, towels, and lemon water. After working up a sweat at the gym, we went for a night time swim and even hopped back and forth from the jacuzzi. After all the fun in the water, we sat and hung out for a bit near the pool bar area, which also had some fire pits going. I was ready to call it a night, but then I decided I should be rewarded for doing so much exercise. It's not everyday you can drag me to a gym!
I ended up stopping by Coffee Amoré, which serves a wide variety of coffees, espressos, cappuccinos and iced coffee drinks. They even had whole cakes to tempt my sweet tooth as well as savory items like Panini sandwiches, freshly baked pastries, cookies, Danish, breads, bagels and salads. So I ordered a iced white chocolate with whipped cream, chocolate strawberries, and a chocolate eclair. Did I mention they're open until 2 am? Perfect for night owls like me! I did a bit of gambling and then I was off to bed to get ready for Russell Peters the next day!
PALA CASINO RESORT & SPA
11154 CA-76, Pala, CA 92059
Click here to go to their website to see future performers and room & dining specials.