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Delightful treats: Route 66’s steakhouse hosting first public chef’s dinner Jan. 20

Route 66 Casino Hotel’s Thunder Road Steakhouse & Cantina is hosting its first chef’s dinner on Jan. 20.

“We wanted to introduce customers to something new, something exciting and to showcase our cooks’ skills,” said Thunder Road chef de cuisine Esperanza Martinez. “This is the very first event that we have had open to guests. We’ve done a lot of internal dinners for select guests. This is going to be the first time we have it for people who want to make reservations.”

Martinez has been at Route 66 since 2011. She was chef de cuisine at Buffet 66 and later a pastry chef at Buffet 66 and other venues at the casino. She also previously was manager of the casino’s Main Street Cafe. Her four-course pairing dinner on Jan. 20 will feature exclusive dishes paired with specialty tequila cocktails.

The menu begins with a Winter Salad made of baby greens, avocado, grapefruit segments, pomegranate, baked golden beet chips and shaved Parmesan with agave lime pistachio vinaigrette. It will be paired with a Diamond Paloma 66 cocktail made with Maestro Dobel Diamante tequila, fresh grapefruit juice, chamomile simple syrup and soda.

The salad will be followed by a tamale trio appetizer. The trio will feature a blue corn and duck confit tamale with pomegranate mole, a zucchini tamale with green chile cream, and a guajillo-ancho braised pork belly tamale. The appetizer will be complemented by a Pamarita, which features 1800 Silver tequila, Pama pomegranate liqueur, fresh lime juice and simple syrup.

“They’re going to be small bites, and in the duck confit, that’s duck that’s simmered in its own fat,” Martinez said. “And then it’s going to be topped with a pomegranate mole. It’s going to be a little spicy and a little bit sweet. (For the pork belly tamale) we’re going to cut off the pork belly and stew it. And that will be on top of like a masa cake. (The zucchini tamale is) going to be a vegetable base. It’s trending right now, the vegetable tamale, to offer a bit of variety.”

The entree will feature an 8-ounce tenderloin steak with serrano lime butter, heirloom tomato gremolata and cauliflower fritters. It will be accompanied by a Smoke Twisted Old Fashioned cocktail created with 1800 Añejo tequila, Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Ancho Reyes red chile liqueur, orange peel, and bitters.

“We use Certified Angus Beef in all of our dishes at Thunder Road, so it will be certified Angus beef tenderloin and then the cauliflower fritter is going to be a cauliflower steak and that’s going to be drenched in flour and crisped up and then topped with a gremolata, which is similar to a pesto,” Martinez said. “It’s going to be the tenderloin with the cauliflower fritter, meaning the vegetable portion.”

An apricot dutch baby dessert ends the dinner. The dessert will be topped with thyme cream and toasted almonds. It will be paired with a Hibiscus Angel cocktail, made with Gran Centenario Rosangel hibiscus tequila, cherry juice, fresh lime, simple syrup, and a cherry garnish.

“It’s a bit of a cross between a pancake and a crêpe, and we’re going to do those in miniature cast-iron skillets,” Martinez said of the dessert. “It is going to be topped with a warm apricot compote. It’s fresh apricots that are shimmered with sugar and spices.”

The dinner is $57.99 per person. Reservations must be made before Wednesday, Jan. 17. Seating will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 20. To make reservations, call 352-7888.

For Route 66 promotions and other information, call 352-7866 or visit