Atlantic City Restaurant Reviews: Send in the Clones

Philly loves Buddakan and Continental; Boston loves Sonsie. But can these urban living rooms thrive in A.C.'s new Pier?

Chef Barry Sullivan reprises many of Philadelphia’s proven crowd-pleasers, including the irresistible Asian Caesar salad, a bounty of romaine tossed with spicy cashews, fried wontons, and a seductive dressing based on ginger-infused oil. Wafer-thin slices of hamachi sashimi firm up slightly after being hit with hot oil mixed with soy sauce and citrus juices. Boneless barbecued pork spare ribs with a crunchy caramelized exterior are dangerously good, and a whisper of truffle essence adds aromatic heft to a chubby medallion of succulent pan-seared sea bass. Dinner concludes with cloud-like sticky rice pudding, and a chocolate bento box that showcases three artfully crafted sweets as if they were cherished curios.

Disappointments were few, but significant. The Angry Lobster, a $70 special, was a three-pounder yielding flaccid, watery meat. The price isn’t mentioned unless you ask. The ill-matched accompaniments were smashed potatoes spiked with truffle oil, and a sloppy black bean sauce. Among the appetizers, three pieces of tempura-style king crab made for a skimpy $25 starter.

Dishes arrive when the kitchen sends them out, sometimes before the customer is ready. And a lesson in French wine-producer names would help the staff, particularly the one who pronounced Olivier Rion’s last name the same as former Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan’s when recommending a $13 glass of pinot noir. Buddakan has some details like this to address, but the customer who stays with what the restaurant does best will enjoy the best eating in the Pier.

at the Continental, but I had trouble ordering a daiquiri.

No, I didn’t want a pomegranate daiquiri. No, I wasn’t asking for a frozen daiquiri. I wanted rum, lime juice and sugar, listed on the cocktail menu under Classics.

"Is that on there?" the server asked, leaning in for a closer look. I pointed. "Oh!" she exclaimed. "You want a daiquiri martini!"