Hit the road, Jack. Gordon is coming to town.
Chef Gordon Ramsay, of “Hell’s Kitchen” and “MasterChef” fame, is opening a new steak house at the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. Gordon Ramsay Steak, a second location of Ramsay’s restaurant at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, will replace Jack Binion’s Steak when it opens at the South Baltimore casino later this year.
“I’ve been a big lover of Baltimore and what it stands for and what comes out of there regionally,” Ramsay said in an interview.
The menu is still being fleshed out, but Ramsay said diners can expect signature dishes from the Las Vegas restaurant, such as beef Wellington and sticky toffee pudding, as well as more seafood dishes and regional specialties. Other menu items will include fish and chips made with local beer batter, classic British ale soup, braised beef cheeks and smoked bone marrow, Ramsay said.
“I’m going to interject a lot more of the East Coast, fish, crabs,” he said. ”I think it’s going to be easier sourcing from the East Coast and the surrounding waters.”
Ramsay said he will look to source from some local purveyors, with five or six menu items that include local ingredients to start.
“I sort of want to strip back the glamorous side of Vegas so that it becomes a little bit more personal,” Ramsay said. “I’m betting into the localization. I’m making that restaurant feel less flashy than Vegas and more comfortable locally.”
His team is already on the ground scoping out the best food Baltimore has to offer and figuring out how to incorporate it in his restaurant.
“We’re like little magpies,” he said. “We’re always going in looking for glitter and finding out what’s working.”
The price point will be similar to Jack Binion’s Steak but lower than Ramsay’s Las Vegas steak house, averaging about $70-$80 per head, Ramsay said.
In addition to his television roles, Ramsay owns 31 restaurants across the world, including four Michelin-starred restaurants: Petrus, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Le Pressoir d’Argent and Au Trianon. His eateries at other Caesars Entertainment Corp. properties in Las Vegas and Atlantic City include Hell’s Kitchen Caesars Palace, two Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill locations, and Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips.
“We’re really lucky to have partnerships with Chef Ramsay,” said Jay Lattimer, vice president of food and beverage for the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. “We thought it would fit perfectly in the Horseshoe brands.”
Gordon Ramsay Steak’s Las Vegas location opened five years ago, and Lattimer said Caesars is looking to capitalize on the success of that restaurant by opening another location.
“It’s probably long overdue to have another Gordon Ramsay Steak in the U.S.,” Lattimer said.
The Baltimore restaurant is still being designed, and Lattimer expects the design to be finalized within several weeks, with the restaurant opening by the end of the year (Ramsay said he’s targeting November). The restaurant will transform the ground-level entrance of the casino, where it will sit just to the left of the main doors.
Ramsay said the new restaurant will carry a motif similar to Las Vegas steak house, with “lots of blues, lots of whites, lots of reds,” and a wall of meat cleavers to greet guests alongside the entrance.
“I’m opposed to this kind of stuffiness that steak houses can sometimes bring,” Ramsay said. ”It’s going to be sort of cool Britannia meets sort of hip, shabby-chic restaurant.”
It’s unclear when Jack Binion’s will close so renovations can begin; Lattimer said the casino had not yet finalized the construction timeline. But he said business has been strong at Jack Binion’s.
“This was just such an opportunity to take it up to another level for us with Chef Ramsay,” Lattimer said.
Other restaurants at the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore include Guy Fieri’s Baltimore Kitchen + Bar, Johnny Sanchez and Fu Noodle House.
Ramsay is still working to select a chef to head his Baltimore steak house’s day-to-day operations. He said he’s narrowed the pool to three chefs, including a local candidate, and expects to choose one within the next four weeks.
As Ramsay prepares to open his first restaurant in Baltimore, he said he is encouraged by the growth in Baltimore’s food scene, which he said has been bolstered by James Beard Award nominations, diversifying dining options and a growing food blog culture.
“It’s almost going through a renaissance in a way,” he said. “It was always playing second fiddle to Washington and New York. We’ve always had to be the less dominant one.”
While Baltimore’s status as a second-tier foodie city doesn’t worry Ramsay, he sees the lack of foot traffic as the toughest challenge in opening a restaurant at the Horseshoe.
“My biggest concern there would be we don’t have the footfall that we have in Vegas,” he said. “Here in Baltimore there’s going to be a level of localization in a way that we need to focus on locals… It has to be more personal.”
Still, Lattimer is optimistic the addition of Gordon Ramsay Steak will create a dining destination that draws foodies from across the region to the casino.
“I think it will really be a destination for a lot of people who wouldn’t necessarily make Horseshoe a destination,” Lattimer said. “I think people will really come from areas outside Baltimore as well.”
MORE BALTIMORE DINER