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Category Archives: Otis & Henry’s

New chef brings extra sweetness to Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo

Motivation for the child trying to finish their food, a dieter’s pitfall, the one thing that will convince you that you have room in your full stomach — sweets are a treasured food item among many. Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo’s new dessert and pastry chef, Brendon Mangiapanello is excited to share his ideas and create delicious dishes for guests to enjoy.

Strawberry Banana Torte

Chef Brendon entered the 3rd Annual Riverside Culinary Classic on April 29 and walked away with a silver medal for his Strawberry Banana Torte. The award-winning dessert is made with strawberry mousse, a white chocolate and banana torte, topped with an almond brittle crunch and served with banana foster. A similar dessert will be introduced on a new dessert menu in Otis & Henry’s  Bar & Grill this summer.

Otis & Henry’s isn’t the only place you can expect to see Chef Brendon’s creations. He will also be introducing The Buffet to some fresh changes.

“I’m going to bring in an action station where some desserts are made in front of the guest. I’m really thinking a “Willy Wonka” style of desserts and presentations,” Brendon explains.

There are also plans for him to showcase his talents on July 11 and 12 during the casino’s invitational Ladies Luncheon. He will show the ladies how to make Vintage Crème Brûlée in a variation of flavors such as vanilla bean, orange chocoste and caramel crème.

“I really enjoy taking a classical dessert and transforming it to a modern and different presentation,”  said Brendon.

Get ready for some mouthwatering, gotta-save-room-for-dessert creations!

Otis & Henry’s new menu in Waterloo to feature award-winning ribs

Chef Henry Rodriguez

Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo’s chef, Henry Rodriguez, recently competed in the annual Beers to You and Gourmet Too competition at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center in Waterloo, Iowa, and returned home with two

awards! The only chef to win more than one award, Chef Henry won the People’s Choice Award and Best Beef Item with his Latitude 48 Braised Short Ribs.   Approximately 1,000 people attended this fundraiser for the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center including 28 vendors vying for various awards and honors.

The award-winning Latitude 48 Braised Short Ribs, served with asiago cheese polenta, will be available on Otis & Henry’s new menu which will premiere on April 25.

Heading our way? Let us know you’re coming — reservations are now accepted online!

Award-Winning Latitude 48 Braised Short Ribs
Yield: 4 servings

4- 10oz beef short ribs
1/8 cup olive oil
24 oz. Sam Adams Latitude 48 beer
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 large yellow onion (cut in large chunks)
1 carrot, peeled
2 stalks of celery, cut in large chunks
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 quart chicken stock
1 quart beef stock
Kosher salt & cracked black pepper

Season short ribs heavily with salt and pepper. In a 6-quart pan with the heat on high, add olive oil. Once the oil is hot, sear all sides of the ribs to a golden color. After the ribs are golden, deglaze the pan with beer and reduce to half. Once reduced, add garlic, onions, carrots, celery and tomato paste. Slowly stir until the paste is dissolved. Add both beef and chicken stock. Turn heat to medium /low, cover tightly, and let cook for 2 1/2 hours or until beef reaches maximum tenderness.

Pot Roast Nachos

Ever wonder how something gets on the menu?

Our Chief Marketing Officer Doug Burkhalter has wanted Pot Roast Nachos on our menu for the longest time. At first, the dish was developed by Chef Eric Brenner at Moxy Bistro in St. Louis . That version had black beans, corn salsa, Pico de Gallo, braised beef, and three cheeses. The Isle Casino Waterloo was the first property to embrace the idea on their Otis & Henry’s menu, using “Philly Steak” meat and other toppings.

It’s also become a hit at our new Lone Wolf at the Isle of Capri Kansas City where Executive Chef Sergio Gonzales is cooking up some deliciousness. So, we thought we’d share this easy to make recipe with you.

Pot Roast Nachos
Corn tortilla chips topped with our oven roasted pulled braised beef and house made four -cheese sauce. Traditional Pico de Gallo, cheddar cheese, sour cream, jalapeño peppers and green onions finish off this delicious appetizer. Great for using up leftovers.

8 oz. Tortilla chips fried
10 oz. Nacho cheese sauce
4 oz. Shredded beef
3 oz. Cheddar cheese (melted)
2 oz. Pico de Gallo
1 oz. Sliced jalapeño peppers
3 oz. Sour cream
3 oz. Minced green onions

• On a small platter, place the tortilla chips and top with shredded beef.
• Ladle cheese sauce over the top.
• Top with the grated cheddar cheese and melt under a broiler.
• Top with the Pico de Gallo, jalapeño peppers, sour cream and chopped green onions.

I guess you could say it’s a dish that we developed from the fertile mind of Mr. Burkhalter, but each property has its own interpretation. We hope to be adding it soon in Boonville, our soon to be location in Cape Girardeau, and others.

New Orleans-style BBQ Shrimp

Chef Eric Brenner is busy making the rounds promoting our new Otis & Henry’s in Lake Charles, LA. Here’s a clip from today’s Great Day Houston show on KHOU-TV as well as the recipe for our signature BBQ Shrimp.

New Orleans-style BBQ Shrimp

* 5 Cups Melted Butter
* 2½ Cups Olive Oil
* 5 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
* 5 TBSP Fresh Basil, Finely Chopped
* 5 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
* ½ Cup Hot Sauce
* 5 tsp Coarse Black Pepper
* 5 tsp Kosher Salt
* 20 Cloves Garlic, Thinly Sliced
* 2 Whole Lemon, Thinly Sliced
* 20 Shrimp, Slit in Back, Shell-on
* 2 Whole Lemons, Cut in 1/2 , Grilled
* 4 TBSP Chopped Scallions
* 4 tsp Minced Red Bell Pepper
* 4 pieces Texas Toast, Cut Diagonally

Mix all ingredients – except shrimp, grilled lemons, scallions, red pepper & toast – in container. Stir well, cover and refrigerate for one day.

This recipe should be enough to make many portions of this dish. It will keep in refrigeration for many weeks.

Stir marinade well. Ladle desired amount into a skillet, making sure enough is in skillet to partially cover shrimp. Place shrimp in skillet and cook ‘til pink (about six minutes).

Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped scallions, grilled lemon, bell pepper and Texas Toast.

My Year in Review

As 2010 comes to a close Chef Eric Brenner looks back on all the great work he’s done.

Ask any chef, at many points in their career what they hope to achieve, and they will likely answer “Some day, I want my own little place where I can work with my family & friends, make great food, have amazing service, and actually live off my own labor.”

Well, I pushed through my early culinary years to expand my knowledge, work with the best chefs, ask questions, learning to lead, to taste, and to create. Fortune ushered me openly into the realm of ownership pretty early in my career. I found great success both personally and professionally with my own little bistro. Accolades humbled me while my growing regulars and food fans emboldened me.

So, when a chef “has his own place”, what goals grow from there? What is the trajectory of a chef’s career after this bold move? Most chefs never think beyond that place…my own place…my kitchen.

I loved opening restaurants for others in my formative years. I continued opening businesses for others even while I managed and ran my own business.

Now, I find myself reflecting on the past year. I closed my restaurant and began focusing my energy and experience to create new restaurant concepts, new menus, new dishes, and to collaborating with the nicest group of people I’d ever known: the chefs and managers of the Isle, Isle of Capri and Lady Luck casinos.

I had never considered that I’d be able to move from one fabulous kitchen to another to work with like-minded professionals in the renaissance of a culinary culture. I was able to be a part in developing the great and future iconic brand that is Otis & Henry’s® Bar and Grill, while being able to work with the talented chefs of Farraddays’®, the army of cooks & chefs that produce the buffets throughout the properties; from the many O&H Expresssm, Tradewinds® and Kitt’s Kartsm employees to the bartenders of Lone Wolfsm and others that keep my spirits high.

As of the end of this year, Isle of Capri Casinos has opened four Otis & Henry’s, and more planned for the near future. Lake Charles, LA and Blackhawk, CO added to the successes of Caruthersville, MO and Waterloo, Iowa. There are always opportunities to improve all of the food offerings throughout the country. I am the happiest chef you’ll meet, fortunate to look into the next year with great anticipation and expectation, to be able to cook for a living and help bring new projects to fruition.

So, to anyone reading who wonders how a chef’s career path takes shape, I can answer…with determination, expertise, courage, energy, and drive all mixed with humility, passion, and the ability to learn as well as lead. Luck follows the hard worker and I’m a shining example of that… you gotta have moxie to thrive in this industry and with the Isle’s culinary team, I look forward to growing, working, and collaborating in more adventures in the kitchen.

You can keep up with all of Chef Eric’s work on Facebook.

Restaurant Review: Otis and Henry’s at Lady Luck Black Hawk

Colorado Gambler Restaurant Review: Otis and Henry’s™
By Suzanne Paulman

via Restaurant Review Otis and Henry’s™ at Lady Luck™.

More Menu Development for Otis & Henry’s

Chef Eric Brenner continues his work developing the fourth Otis & Henry’s Bar & Grill  at Isle of Capri Casino Lake Charles in Louisiana.

We made it half-way through the menu on our first day and decided to start fresh the next morning. Chef Rodrick and his Sous Chef CJ met me early in our temporary test kitchen and schooled me on the locally famous “hamburger steak” which, as it turns out, is a beefier meatloaf that is seared, topped with caramelized onions and finished with Creole mustard and beef demiglace. All I can say is, “Wow.”

At that point, you wonder if you can create anything better. So, we took a shot at a delicious sauce for the filet mignon made with the local Shiner Bock Beer. It is stellar. You’ll have to give it a try.

We experimented and tested various cooking temperatures, times, and marinades for the fried chicken. We’ve got to have the best around, and I believe we do. We tried baking different types of apples to accompany the pork chops. I shared my favorite brandy sauce recipe that has just a hint of cinnamon & honey. And, after working on the seafood dishes and comparing notes on “the best” baby back rib recipes, we moved on to the desserts.

I started by recounting the story of the German baker in St. Louis who stumbled onto the now classic Gooey Buttercake recipe The entire place went silent as everyone dug in to the first sample that I had made with blueberries and a blueberry compote. Then Chef Rodrick did one better with his Donut Bread Pudding made with the all-time favorite Krispy Kreme donuts and topped with a sweet bourbon cream sauce. When you taste it, you’ll wonder what that little flavor is. The secret? Just a touch of Baily’s Irish Cream. As you can imagine, we all felt pretty full and fulfilled at that point.

As we cleaned up for the day, and worked out a few staples such as the Twice-Baked Mac n’ Cheese and Sweet Potato Casserole, we readied ourselves for the next day’s work: the Sunday Brunch menu. Here is where the Creole influence really makes a statement with Eggs Sardou (Artichoke, poached egg, lump crab meat, tomato hollandaise, and creamed spinach), Pecan Crusted French Toast with Maple & Fresh Berries, Creole Eggs Benedict with Andouille Sausage, Crawfish, and sauteed Spinach…I mean, really…does it get any better than that?

The collaborative work that goes into the making of each new Otis & Henry’s reflects the regional character that makes the Isle of Capri Casinos properties such a part of the community. Be assured that wherever the Otis & Henry’s sign is hanging in your favorite casino, there is soul in that kitchen and love in that food.

There’s A Lot of Love Going Into the Creation of a New Otis & Henry’s

Chef Eric Brenner is on the road again to another Isle of Capri property to create a new dining experience. Today, he shares some of what goes into developing the menu.

How many times have you heard someone say that the key to happiness is having a passion for your work and being blessed to love your career. Well, I’ve got to be the most fortunate guy around because I love to cook, to collaborate with other talented cooks, to help develop young cooks, to travel…and more than anything, I love the unique energy and excitement that goes into a restaurant opening.

About two weeks ago, we began the process of developing the fourth Otis & Henry’s Bar & Grill  at Isle of Capri Casino Lake Charles in Louisiana. This weekend, with a rough outline, we began cooking through the dishes, creating recipes, and constructing a perfectly balanced menu. Chefs, cooks, managers, directors, and service staff all chipped in to help in any way the could to get the first look and taste of the new menu items. From my perspective, the most impressive facet of the Otis & Henry’s experience is the process of choosing the menu items. Each Otis & Henry’s is unique to it’s region, yet the common thread of “comfort food” (and a few signature items) shines through.

So, here in Louisiana, the home of America’s first authentic cuisine, we have utilized the most exciting flavor profiles to create some mouth-watering dishes. The property’s award winning chicken & sausage gumbo now sits comfortably on the Starters menu, alongside New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp, a seafood gratin, fresh crab cakes and crispy fried boudin balls (lighly breaded, pork sausage and rice spheres for those of you not from the South). The flavors pop and everything is made from scratch. Even the spinach salad gets special Southern treatment with spicy, candied pecans and a house-made raspberry poppy seed vinaigrette.

Of course, there will be Po’Boys, a cajun-spiced chicken sandwich, and for the Texas spin, a dry-rubbed & smoked brisket sandwich with BBQ sauce and coleslaw. Otis & Henry’s signature Philly Cheese-steak is the only distant import to this part of the menu, but it’s awesome. Plus, you won’t believe how good the Triple Grilled Cheese is, with applewood smoked bacon and sliced domato on a garlic butter brushed boule. Yum…that’s cheesy goodness on a bun!

And that was only the first day! Tomorrow, I’ll let you know what we did on the second day. More delicious dishes to try out.

How happy am I…to get to share my experience and passion with like-minded professionals  The flavors of Otis & Henry’s are familiar and comforting, yet exciting and fresh. The collaborative work that goes into the making of each new restaurant reflects the regional character that makes the Isle and Lady Luck properties such a part of the community. Be assured that wherever the Otis & Henry’s sign is hanging in your favorite casino, there is soul in that kitchen and love in that food.

The Lure of a New Restaurant (or Why I got on Such an Early Flight)

Today’s entry comes from a guest blogger, Brand Manager Elissa Plastino. You can follow more of her thoughts and adventures at @eplastino

Admittedly, I am not an early bird. Or, for that matter, a night owl. In fact, I function best between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. So what was I doing yesterday when I got up at 3:45 a.m. to start a travel day in which I would spend time in three states and three time zones before arriving back home at midnight?

Well, it was the lure of seeing our new restaurant — Otis & Henry’s Bar and Grill — at Lady Luck Casino Black Hawk. As Chef Eric Brenner mentions in an earlier posting, Otis & Henry’s Bar and Grill will bring guests a menu that features comfort food favored by people across the nation.

Otis & Henry’s opened today, so I made the trip yesterday to get a sneak peek and see what was happening in the restaurant only one day before opening.

When I arrived, the Otis & Henry’s sign was being installed at the restaurant’s entrance. Inside, servers looked spiffy in their new uniforms and they seemed to carry themselves with a heightened level of confidence. Chef Eric’s trusty sidekick Haris was putting the team through some additional service training to ensure guests were provided with an exceptional dining experience. Both Chef Eric and Haris have led the openings of our two other Otis & Henry’s locations (Caruthersville, MO and Waterloo, IA) so they take great pride in every aspect of the restaurant.

Having been up so early, I was hungry and, even knowing that lunch was a few hours away, I stole a glance at the menu. What a mistake! My mouth started to water immediately and my stomach started to growl. From an all-day breakfast section that features all-you-can-eat pancakes and a French toast platter, to appetizers of cheese fries and wings, to entrees of meatloaf, ribs and country fried steak. But what really caught my eye was the baked mac-n-cheese dinner, an O&H signature item. I knew immediately what I was having for lunch, and let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed!

When lunchtime came around, I looked out the window and the snow had started to blow! Of course, weather like that makes a person want comfort food even more, so we headed to Otis & Henry’s for a bite to eat.

I didn’t have to look at the menu because I already knew what I wanted — the mac-n-cheese. Others at the table decided that the weather made them want soup, so several ordered the soup & salad bar along with an entrée like meatloaf or the grilled triple cheese sandwich.

As I watched my colleagues come back to the table with bowls of hot tomato soup, I wondered if I had made the right decision. It looked and smelled wonderful! The soup was thick and creamy…they said it was delicious.

Our meals arrived and I was not disappointed by my order. The mac-n-cheese was a large bowl of shell pasta covered in creamy cheese and then topped with melted Cheddar and toasted Italian bread crumbs. I took a bite and it was pure deliciousness! I ate until I was so full that I couldn’t even consider having a slice of pie for dessert.

As we left, I noticed a great buzz from other diners. Even though the restaurant wasn’t officially open, Chef Eric had his team practicing by serving casino employees and some lucky guests who were treated to a free meal in exchange for their honest feedback.

I left Black Hawk shortly after lunch to head home to St. Louis, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I am so excited for the Lady Luck team as I know that Otis & Henry’s will be a hit!

Have you tried Otis & Henry’s yet? If so, please leave us your feedback. If not, what are you waiting for?

The Excitement is Building as We Prepare to Open Our New Restaurant

by Chef Eric Brenner

Wow, what a great team! Over the past few days the eager staff at Lady Luck Casino in Blackhawk has been plugging away as we prepare for the Grand Opening of Otis & Henry’s Bar & Grill this week.
The kitchen is fired up, the food delivered and the ‘heart of the house’ begins to hum with that familiar clamoring of hustle and toil. It begins to smell like a working kitchen as aromatic fragrances loft to the dining room where final adjustments are being made to receive guests. Michael Alton, the food and beverage director, is inspired by a last minute vision of displaying a colorful continental breakfast, at the salad bar, for a morning nosh.

The cooks and I share stories over a spaghetti lunch featuring favorite tomato sauce recipe.

Through all the bustle, I managed to speak with reporters in printed press and radio about the excitement of the new venue and menu. The entire property, from staff to guests,  is abuzz with energy of anticipation and change.
We’ve got part of the team getting safety and sanitation training, while another part of the team works on the new carry-out podium and seating area. The podium is an plus for guests who want the tastes of Otis & Henry’s favorites but want to get right back in the action.

As the day ended, the staff bidding each other farewell with high fives, we notice the signs of floor cleaning preparations. With tables moved about and upturned chairs, I walk a final inspection of the space with a sense of pride in our team and their efforts.
Can’t wait to unveil this installment of the Otis & Henry’s experience!
Chef Eric Brenner


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