I’ve often wondered, in this column and elsewhere, why Treasure Island Resort & Casino doesn’t have a Four Stars-caliber dining room.
They have Tradewinds, a high-quality seafood buffet, and assorted other nooks and crannies with decent food, but not a first-rate dining room for high rollers and hotel guests. My model for this is the Woodfire Grille at Diamond Jo Casino, just south of Albert Lea near Northwood, Iowa.
Well, now, they do. Though it’s only been open for two weeks, Tado Steakhouse is the restaurant TI-goers have been waiting for. They have the steaks, style and service to draw diners from the Rochester area and the Twin Cities, even for people who don’t necessarily care for high-stakes poker or nickel slot machines.
For hotel guests and gamblers, it’s a huge step up. I’m no expert on Mystic Lake — I may check out their dining room over the next few weeks, just to compare — but over time, I think Tado can put Treasure Island on the radar for metro-area casino-goers. There are other factors involved, including the quality of live entertainment, but it all fits together.
Tado, which means “meat” in Mdewakanton and is pronounced “ta-DOH,” is near the entry to the Events Center, which was hosting a bakers convention Saturday night when we were there. The casino was packed, and as always, the people-watching was glorious. The entry to the restaurant has a wall of flame, as does the Tado logo, to make sure you remember it’s a place to get a top-quality grilled steak.
Inside, the dining room is open and elegant, with historical photos of Dakota chiefs and landscapes. Though the lights are up and the clientele includes people who are dressed as if they’re going to spend the night in front of a slot machine or in the bowling alley, it’s a nice blend of elegance and informality, with white tablecloths, fine tableware and heavy-duty steak knives.
Tado is counting on the top-grade, locally sourced Hereford beef (finished by the Greater Omaha Packing Co.) to bring in the meat-lovers, and judging by the 20-ounce bone-in rib eye and the 6-ounce filet, they’ve got a good handle on the quality. They were grilled right on the money, lightly charred, juicy and full of flavor. The rib eye was well-trimmed and firm, and the filet had the lean, almost creamy texture you expect of tenderloin.
For all the attention to beef, there’s plenty of fish and seafood, chicken and even frog legs, which qualifies as meat, though I’m quite certain I’ll never try it. Prices are up there for the steaks, but with the excellent salads and accoutrements, they aren’t out of line with Pescara and other top choices in Rochester.
Among the surprises on the menu are the Phyllo Wrapped Mushrooms ($9), five little satchels of crisp phyllo holding a reduction of mushrooms, shallots, white wine and cream, served in gently sauteed mushroom caps with a sprig of basil sprouting from each. It’s one of the most striking dishes I’ve had recently. Also high on my list, if you’re a regular reader of this column, are the fresh oysters (Gulf Coast, $16), and if you have room for dessert, the chocolate espresso torte ($9), with a cup of strong coffee, may keep you alert for a few more hands of blackjack after dinner.
I’ll have more on Tado next week, including more tasting notes and some chit-chat with manager Steve Watson, who has one of the best food and hospitality pedigrees in Rochester.
The Prairie Island Indian Community, which owns and operates Treasure Island, has spared no expense to market Tado, with ads and billboards in all directions from Red Wing. They include a branded pack of toothpicks with the check, and even the doggie bags are deluxe.
They’re gambling that the restaurant will live up to the hype. So far, so good.
Tado, at Treasure Island Resort and Casino, is near the entry to the Events Center. Plan to park at that end of the parking lot. Valet service is available. Reservations are a good idea on weekends, especially when there’s a show. If you’re not crazy about cigarette smoke, you can enter through the hotel and save a few steps through the hazy casino on your way to Tado.
Treasure Island is just north of Red Wing, east of U.S. Highway 61. Follow the signs or call for directions, 651-385-2988.
Hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. They’re closed Monday and Tuesday.