The roll of the dice, the spin of the roulette wheel or the flipping of the cards; the game of chance is a thrill that has kept casinos thriving for hundreds of years. But one thing patrons are no longer willing to gamble on is the quality of food and drink being served up to them at these glamorous establishments.
Located in The May Fair Hotel’s former Grand Art Deco Ballroom, The Palm Beach Casino features one of the largest gaming rooms in London.
With a wide variety of games including roulette, blackjack, punto banco and poker available to play 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the casino has undergone a £2m refurbishment that includes a new Bar & Grill and destination restaurant The Palm Beach, which features modern global cuisine by executive head chef Mahmud Zaman.
“It is what’s expected of us, being a well-known Mayfair casino,” says casino director Phil Nunn. “In order for us to keep our customers happy and returning, we have to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.”
While the hotel has been open under different guises since 1927, it wasn’t until 1965 when Maxwell Joseph, founder of Grand Metropolitan hotels, along with the Barnet brothers, Robert and Alfred, opened the new and exciting French-themed Palm Beach Club – in what was once the hotel’s famous ballroom – and Boulevard de Paris Restaurant was created.
The casino changed hands numerous times during the 20th century until 2007, when Malaysian resort
company Genting bought it as part of a 40-plus casino estate from Stanley Casinos Ltd.
And now, after its upgrades, the casino is set to be one of the go-to locations for London gaming, with an emphasis on the hospitality side of the experience.
The Palm Beach restaurant is an opulent, art deco 52-cover a la carte restaurant overseen by award-winning chef Zaman.
Zaman brings with him more than 25 years of experience in the London hospitality scene, having previously worked at well-known casinos such as Rendevous, and moved from The Sportsman Casino about eight months ago.
From 2015 to 2017, Zaman won multiple awards at the National Asian Awards and Asian Curry Awards, reflecting his in-depth knowledge and skills now on show at The Palm Beach Casino.
“The menu at The Palm Beach reflects Zaman’s expertise and passion for South Asian and global cuisine with dishes that span continents in order to appeal to Palm Beach’s international clientele,” says Nunn. “He oversees the menus across the restaurant, international Bar & Grill and The Lounge bar, making the casino a foodie destination in its own right.”
Starters include dishes such as aloo tikka chaat with tamarind sauce; kale pakoras with Indian salad; or three-lentil soup with coriander and fried onions. Mains include achari paneer tikka with spices, pepper and onions; classic tandoori lamb chops; or spicy king prawn madras, among other dishes.
Desserts comprise house favourites including javira chocolate mousse; and Coconut crème brûlée, complemented by refreshing lemon sorbet – all washed down perfectly with a glass of sweet Moscato d’Asti, fresh mint tea or double espresso.
“The menu reflects Zaman’s expertise and passion for South Asian cuisine,” adds Nunn.
The new Bar & Grill will offer guests a more relaxed, all-day dining experience overlooking the casino floor, equipped with large screens showing coverage of the world’s major sporting events.
“This offers great food and drinks from 12pm onwards, allowing diners to take in the atmosphere of the gaming floor,” says Nunn. “The menu has been designed to appeal to the casino’s international clientele and traverses the globe. As well as Zaman’s signature Asian dishes, choices include the Palm Beach Burger with gherkins, onion rings and fries; 10oz grilled ribeye with peppercorn sauce; lamb cutlets with mint jelly and sautéed potatoes; or a freshly prepared beetroot and goats’ cheese salad served with smoked chilli jam and orange.”
Lastly, The Lounge Bar, renovated last year, has a travel-inspired theme with aged map murals on the ceiling and comfortable deep red velvet stool seating complemented by brown leather Chesterfield sofas.
The bar is headed up by a talented mixology team featuring signature and classic serves, spirits and wines, alongside a range of bar food from across the globe – maintaining the casual but stylish theme, house DJs play every night from 10pm until 4am.
“The Lounge is made for party people and people-watching,” says Nunn. “Whether heading there after work, post dinner or a trip to the theatre, it’s the perfect place to sip on vintage champagne and classic or creative cocktails, such as the Tiki Beats (made with Mount Gay rum, St Germain, passion fruit, lime and a hint of chilli); Lapsang Light (incorporating Lapsang tea-infused Tanqueray gin, Chambord, lemon juice, egg white and raspberry) and the American Kiss (a martini made with Maker’s mark whiskey, Chambord, pineapple and raspberry).
“A bar bites menu means you can also refuel any time of the day, whilst DJs provide a party vibe come Friday and Saturday nights. Every Sunday is Arabic Night with belly dancers, Arabic menu and shisha.”
The new F&B spaces at the casino will be looked at to both extend and heighten the guest experience, offering another revenue stream to the operator as well as an extra reason for guests to stay for longer and spend more.
“It has been very important for us as this was the area that we were lacking in,” says Nunn. “We have seen the increase in footfall already across all of our F&B areas and the customer feedback has been second to none so far. We can now offer our guests a full casino experience where they can start and finish their night with us here at The Palm Beach.”