Fallen Oak and Beau Rivage Diaries (Part 3)
Chapter 6 – More Food, Glorious Food
BILOXI, MS – The threatened thunderstorm on Thursday materialized right as we got off the golf course, so plans to swim in the pool and lounge at the outdoor Jacuzzi with my new rodeo friends were scuttled, but the indoor spa and gym actually has three Jacuzzis, so the only thing we missed out on was a suntan.
The washing machine in the sky brought everyone to the tables a little early. Bullfighter Ross Hill had a good run at roulette, which was entertaining. He hit winners twice early and coasted to a good evening.
“We all love it here, they love to show you a great time,” Hill beamed. “And we love how they support PCA Rodeo too; they’ve been a terrific title sponsor.”
“My wife can’t wait to come back again, and I can’t wait to take her,” added rising bull-riding star Allen Pippin, who thrilled the crowd with his breathtaking victory the evening before. He even got a round of golf in at Fallen Oak.
“It is challenging for sure, it’s a big course, a lot bigger and tougher than I’m used to at home,” explained Pippin. “It’s also the nicest course I’ve ever played.”
The same could be said about the restaurants: “That’s the best Italian I ever had,” or “That’s the best steakhouse I’ve ever seen,” or “That’s the best Japanese teppanyaki, (that’s hibachi style for those of you scoring at home), I ever ate.”
Happily tonight was Japanese night, (after the previous night’s feast there was no way I could eat a huge steak!), with David Stinson, General Manager of Fallen Oak, at the Beau Rivage’s Asian restaurant Jia. David comes to Fallen Oak with a sterling background: Long Cove, Bellerive, (a future PGA Championship venue), and Olympia Fields to name a few. We talked a good deal together about how the wind makes Fallen Oak a totally different (and tougher!) golf course, how great a job super Matthew Hughes was doing, and how Fallen Oak, how its greens were a strain of Bermuda, not the new Paspalum, which actually makes it easier to putt on them. (Tour pros have noticed that the ball tends to skid a little unpredictably off the club head with Paspalum and the lack of grain doesn’t let putts hold the line as much as other strains. I prefer Fallen Oak’s greens to Kiawah Island’s and Atlanta Athletic Club’s.) We also talked about how much we liked sushi, which means we were in the right place.
“Jia” means “beautiful” in Japanese, a dinner was exactly that and more, another seminal dining experience, the Grande Dame of teppenyaki restaurants, with every Asian dish you could desire. A full sake menu, from crisp, refreshing Junmais to various fragrant, flavored sakes like raspberry and pear opened the meal, along with a dish of the house’s special Pho, (traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup, pronounced “fuh”). The next course was sushi – a whole galaxy of fish and rolls, from traditional to ultra-exotic – yes, even blowfish if you want it. We opted for hotter and spicier selections, such as the Atomic roll, the Mississippi Roll, and the Godzilla Roll, (great name!). We even got some of the freshest, most tender octopus (tako) I have ever tasted, wonderfully pungent Ikura, and smaller bites of spicy tuna adorned with edible gold leaf. Try ordering THAT at Benihana!
We then made our way through salad with ginger dressing and miso soup, (you could have clear or fish soup as well), before Chef Rum arrived to make our teppenyaki, a blend of steak and scallops, served with fried rice, (or steamed, if you prefer), mushrooms, peppers, squash, and other vegetables.
The next evening’s meal was an equally decadent banquet. BR Prime, the resort’s steakhouse is meant to be the end all be all of steakhouses nationwide, and it makes an excellent case for that honor. They dry-age their own beef here, which is quite the complicated process, I’m told. It imparts a nuttier flavor and more tender texture to the beef. This is light years beyond what you’ll find even at Morton’s of Chicago, with their glass casings full of Saran-wrapped slabs of beef; at BR Prime, they dry-age enormous amounts of beef daily on premises.
Every cut of steak is available, from Chateaubriand to petite filets, and anything in between. All the other staples of the steakhouse menu are available too, from shrimp cocktail to crab cakes to oysters, from lobster tails to fish dishes to lamb chops. There were even rarer selections like marlin
I was personally thrilled to see stone crab claws on the menu, (they fly them in straight from the world famous Joe’s of Miami!), I see them so rarely outside of Aquagrill on Spring Street and Sixth Avenue, and then only when they are in season, they’re a rare treat, so my dinner partner and I split an order of stone crabs and a medium rare filet.
The claws of stone crabs are pudgy, thicker than the crabs of other claws, with a harder shell easily identifiable by its bright orange and white coloring and black-tipped pincers. The flavor of the meat is more subtle than its more common counterparts like blue or king crabs. Meanwhile, the steaks melted in our mouths. With six different sauces to choose from, including béarnaise, au poivre, and wine reductions, you can eat here every day for several months and never have the same meal twice.
There was so much more to sample that I only got to observe briefly. There’s great nightlife at the techno music club Coast, there’s rhythm and blues in another club, and plenty of rock and roll shows in the arena. Unlike other places, the Beau Rivage gets real artists, not fossilized pop-culture relics from by gone eras that are nothing more than flies trapped in amber. (I still laugh at the time Blarney stone…err…Turning Stone Casino booked Bowser from Sha Na Na. What a way to treat your high rollers!)
But the best thing about the Beau, what sets it apart, is the people. They are glad to have you, and want to show you the best time you could have. You come here, and you go home with ten new friends.
Beau Rivage means “beautiful shore?” Well it should mean totally awesome, because that’s what your trip there will be.
Speaking of totally awesome, I returned home late the next day to New York and Sweet Betsy, around midnight. The lights were all out, so I came in as quietly as possible. She still stirred, asking me about the trip. I told her it was amazing.
“Like you,” I said. “Amazing.”
“Am I? Or do you just write me that way?” she asked mischievously
“Well, love does make good copy.”
“So I’m told.”
“Well then, let’s find out.”
And with that, she turned out the light.