Oceano at the Peppermill Casino and Resort, Reno, NV

by Stevie on August 26, 2011

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casino entrance to Oceano

casino entrance to Oceano

Normally, I’m not into casinos—I’m convinced that the house always wins, so what’s the point? But when you’re talking restaurants that’s a whole other story. So I was delighted to find myself in the company of a good friend from school, her wife and two young children last week on my WorldCon adventure to Reno. I was staying at the Peppermill for the conference. Since my friend knows that I’m clueless about how to get around town on my own, she suggested dining “in” at the casino seafood place, Oceano.

glowing plastic seaweed surrounding our large booth

glowing plastic seaweed surrounding our large booth

jellyfish lamps at Oceano

jellyfish lamp up close at Oceano

stimulating Oceano dining room

stimulating Oceano dining room

There’s something funny about dining at a casino. It isn’t the bright lights, loud noises of the winners on the slot machines, or even the dramatic over-the-top décor. No, it is the fact that we were able to walk for what seemed like miles with a ten year old girl and a three year old boy through the entire facility; past roulette wheels, poker tables, numerous and varied kinds of brightly glowing slots, security guards, bars and waitresses hurrying to deliver cocktails; and nobody even raised an eyebrow. Well, we sure weren’t in Kansas anymore.

Oceano is amazing, really. The food is ok but the ambiance, wow! Done up as if you were dining at the bottom of a shallow sea, we were surrounded by luminous jellyfish as lighting, sitting among fluorescent green plastic seaweed and blue neon that made the entire room feel like you were truly underwater. At our spacious booth, a friendly sea turtle was in the process of swimming by. I even saw a killer whale a few tables over, apparently looking for the right guest to sample.

Oceano entrance

Oceano entrance detail

sea turtle swimming over our heads at Oceano

friendly sea turtle swimming over our heads at Oceano

The menu was full of restaurant staples. You could get almost anything fried. There were some sushi offerings, lots of fish and shellfish. Feeling extra excited, I started with a Manhattan with Blanton’s bourbon, my absolute fave. Look how the drink reflects the ceiling as if it was the surface of the ocean.

shimmering Manhattan at Oceano at the Pepermill

shimmering Manhattan at Oceano at the Pepermill

sour dough bread and butter makes for a classic West Coast seafood meal

sour dough bread and butter makes for a classic West Coast seafood meal

They brought out the obligatory sour dough bread and butter as we waited for drinks. I liked that since I rarely have this at home.

The Crustacean Celebration was just that: fresh oysters on the half shell, lobster, king crab legs, ceviche and jumbo prawns accompanied by six dipping sauces. I only remember five: butter, horseradish, cocktail sauce, cilantro and aioli. It was a fun interactive start, and really added to the party atmosphere.

Crustacean Celebration

Crustacean Celebration

Cioppino with toasted ciabatta

Cioppino with toasted ciabatta

I ordered the West Coast cioppino. This was a calculated risk on my part, as I usually find it is best to try things that you’re not too familiar with when attempting a new restaurant. It decreases your chances for disappointment. Fortunately, this cioppino was good. Sadly, hardly any of my clams opened, but the lobster more than made up for it in my mind.

The kids got fried things. Veronica had what to me looked like oversized crab cakes with huge fingerling potatoes. Karen tried the Louisiana gumbo, which I had considered too, but declined for the andouille, which is not currently on my personal menu.

oversized crab cakes with fingerling potatoes

oversized crab cakes with fingerling potatoes

We shared an ice cream sundae for dessert, though I have to say I was so stuffed by then, that I could only have a few bites.

The service was fine; the food, reasonable. I found it to be tremendously enjoyable to visit friends undersea. You can’t say something like that every day, can you?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen August 26, 2011 at 8:51 am

Wow, that’s decor madness!! I kind of like it though, it’s perfect for a casino restaurant. The seaweed and jellyfish are far out!
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Anna August 26, 2011 at 10:42 am

Oh heavens! What an elaborate place. Looks like fun!! May I join in the croissant challenge? It’s been a personal goal of mine for a while and I’d love to do it with people, if you’ll let me!!

Heavenly Housewife August 26, 2011 at 11:21 am

That place looks crazy! My mom loves going to the casino, I’ve eaten there with her, but this looks a lot better. They’ve got a pretty great seafood selection.
I’ve tagged you in my most recent post. No pressure to follow trough though, only if you want to.
*kisses* HH
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Krista August 26, 2011 at 11:53 am

WOW!! The lighting is so amazing – quite otherworldly. 🙂
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tasteofbeirut August 26, 2011 at 8:36 pm

This restaurant is so surrealistic and extraordinary!
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Hamptontoes August 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Wow! That is quite a dining experience. Yes, isn’t it amazing that one can be in a casino with little tykes and noone seems to care? I’ve been to Vegas and I’m not a gambler, so the shows and the dining were what we took in…it was fun! I like the lighting fixtures at this place.
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wizzythestick August 27, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Hello! I was blown away by the photos of this place.. Definitely out of this world.

Shelley August 28, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Wow! If the pics do the place justice, it is over the top indeed. I think I would have been on sensory overload but it does look fabulous!
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Annette | Bucket List Journey August 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Love that sea turtle! I would definitely want to jump in there and go for a little swim with it!
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tigerfish August 29, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Oh the neon lights!!!..I may not find my food in Oceano! They might be so well-camouflaged! ;p

John October 10, 2011 at 11:30 am

I like the way they matched the design and colors with their theme. I agree that the place looks crazy. Honestly I had never been to such a place, the pictures made me want to visit there someday. I may pass on the gambling, I wish to try the seafood, they look so yummy and I feel I would fit in with casino’s ambiance.

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