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The Reserve Hotel Casino in Central City, Colorado keeps on getting better and better

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THE RESERVE in Central City, Colorado

The Reserve Hotel Casino
321 Gregory St
Central City, Colorado
(800) 924-6646

Originally published September, 22, 2012


>>> UPDATE April 11, 2013 < << The buffets have been replaced with off-the-menu ordering, although Friday thru Sunday the CAFE features a Lobster Buffet from 5:00pm until 10:00pm. Also, Ardore’s has undergone a name-change. The new name is, BISTRO 321 CHOPHOUSE. Visit the LasVegasBuffetClub’s Colorado Casino’s page on THE RESERVE at the bottom of this post. This information supersedes any of the following.

< <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Hotel/Casino THE RESERVE in Central City, Colorado, formerly Fortune Valley Hotel Casino, keeps on getting better and better, in fact it’s becoming a Gilpin County favorite.

The Reserve sent me another room comp + a voucher for a trifle-bit of gambling/food cash, I jumped at the opportunity.

This hotel (resplendent with it’s rock & roll theme, 60s-70s vintage rock-posters, signed R&R memorabilia including guitars, records and microphones – also, crazy motorcycles, including a replica of the Easy Rider “Captain America Bike,” a Go Cart with a V8 auto-engine, and a long-legged-blonde-Pamela Anderson-look-alike-cocktail-waitress) is becoming yet more attractive by expanding the hours of the “fine-dining” restaurant ARDORE to seven days (ARDORE used to only be open on the weekends,) and converting the buffet to a real all-you-can-eat buffet. These are two excellent changes that are helping fine-tune this roadhouse-get-a-way in the mountains.


Upon arriving, walking through the casino, we gave ARDORE the once over and decided to come back later in the evening to try out this restaurant since it was the first time we found it open (we usually go up during the week and ARDORE previously only opened weekends.) “Ardore, meaning passion in Italian is Reserve’s own gourmet restaurant, featuring steakhouse style dishes with an Italian and Tuscan flare.” After checking in, settling in to the room to have a cocktail and catch up on the news, we went over to the AMERISTAR on Richman to play with the small gaming “stipend” they sent me. I did all-right, coming close to acquiring enough points to get a free-buffet (20 out of 25 points,) however we were still set on trying out ARDORE so I cashed in, dead-even, and we drove back up the hill to Central City.

ARDORE is fronted by glass and bottles and bottles (500) of stacked wine from THE RESERVE’S owner Tom Celani’s, “Celani Family Vineyards.” On weekends the restaurant offers up-scale Tuscan-style fine dining and also does business as: ARDORE’S BISTRO every day from 11:30 am to 4:00 pm for Lunch and re-opens for Dinner Monday thru Thursday at 4:30 p.m. serving lighter meals including salads, bistro-appetizers, and entrees including: a 1/2 lb. Certified Angus Beef Burger “Served on our House Roll with Tomato, Lettuce & Onion, and choice of Fries or Chips 7.99, Topped with your choice of Bleu, Swiss, Cheddar or American Cheese 8.99,” Avocado Salmon (13.99,) Merlot Meatloaf (12.99,) a couple of pasta dishes including: Rock ‘n’ Rollin’ Bolognese – “House Made Bolognese of Marinara, Ground Beef, Celery, Carrot, Onion over Angel Hair Pasta 11.99” and more see the complete menu at THE RESERVE’S website.

Weekends, they jack up the dinner menu a notch – menu-choices as well as prices. For instance the weekend dinner-menu offers: among the ANTIPASTI – APPETIZERS: there’s CALAMARI “Fried Calamari above a creamy Red Pepper emulsion and Micro greens – 7.00,” and entrees such as: LAMB SHANK “Braised Lamb Shank, marinated and baked in our house Marinara served over Risotto Primavera,” as well as an ARDORE RIBEYE “12 oz. House Butchered Ribeye, Our Signature Zip sauce, Asiago cheese, Truffle Rosemary Potatoes and Sautéed Spinach,” each $21.00. There’s also a BOLOGNESE Pasta “House made Bolognese consisting of celery, onion, carrot, Marinara and ground beef over your choice of Fettuccini or Angel Hair 16.00.” View the complete weekend dinner-menu at ARDORE’S website.

Being a Cobb Salad guy I ordered, guess what, The Cobb Salad. It was beautifully presented in a cool, white, oval deep-dish/plate that was made in such a manner that it tilts at an angle to your face, you gotta see it. All of the ingredients were “right” (including Grilled Chicken, Bacon, Avocado, Tomatoes, Hard-Boiled Egg and Crumbled Blue Cheese,) fresh and artistically placed in neat little groupings around the plate over a bed of Romaine Lettuce. The salad is offered with “either a Side of Bleu Cheese or Balsamic Vinaigrette 9.99.” It’s one of the better Cobbs I’ve had. That includes the Cobb at the (long-gone) Stardust in Las Vegas as well as that tasty honey-mustard Cobb at BOOMTOWN before it became SILVERTON on Blue Diamond Road in South Las Vegas. Yea I know – I’m just a Western/Southwestern dude, I don’t travel much out of the West, haven’t found a need to… Can’t get enough of that desert. Regarding the salad dressing, I would prefer a creamier (less tart/vinegary) Bleu Cheese. ARDORE’S might be just the place to dine before the (Central City) Opera. If other food choices aren’t up to par, don’t blame me, remember I’ve only had the Cobb Salad, so far…

The Chefs Kitchen Buffet
The Chef's Kitchen Buffet

Regarding the little breakfast buffet ($3.99 or $1.99 with coupon) in The Chef’s Kitchen at THE RESERVE, it is now (to repeat) a true, all-you-can-eat buffet, and now one serves oneself at the buffet. Used to be that the buffeters’ plates were plated by a server behind the glass: they would ask you what you want and then you would have to point and say “some of this and some of that.” That’s over now, you load up your plate with exactly what you want and then come back for more – good move Reserve. Breakfast Buffet choices include: Western Scrambled Eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, pancakes, French Toast, fruit, bagels, sweet-rolls, cereals, biscuits and gravy, coffee and more. Orange juice and other drinks are extra. [This may be wrong, last time we went up Orange Juice was available in a dispenser next to the water dispenser.] This little Breakfast Buffet is my “hands-down” favorite in the area. It’s small-town intimate and though the food choices are minimal there’s enough for me. $1.99 with the coupon ain’t a bad price either.

There is also an all-you-can-eat, Lunch Buffet, (Monday – Friday) for $8.99 and a Champagne Brunch for $10.99 on Saturday and Sunday; and there’s a Dinner Buffet (7-days) for $16.99 in The Chef’s Kitchen. Call for hours and more buffet information.

If you’re an East-coast foodie/food-snob, you’ll find the buffet choices minimal. For the little mountain-town of Central City, they’re doing just fine, thank you. The restaurant experience is all-around, small-town friendly. The staff at the buffet are friendly, upbeat and helpful. The gracious, Debbi will make sure your visit to the buffet was satisfactory, at breakfast for sure. Perhaps she works other shifts as well.

Inside Market Street (the Reserve’s restaurant area,) besides the buffet line, there’s a coffee-bistro called Java Express “a little sandwich shop” that offers several Panini sandwiches for around $5.99. They also serve salads for about $4-bucks, beverages and Pizza slices ($1.99 or $.99 w/players card) and whole pies for $5.99 and $10.99, or Calzones $7.99. Beer is available here by the glass or pitcher. Take-out your order and head back to your room or have a seat at one of several, nearby tables.

Visit the LasVegasBuffetClub’s Colorado Casino’s page on THE RESERVE

The Reserve Casino Hotel in Central City, Colorado

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Originally published June 21, 2012
New information/photo added July 12, 2012.
****New Gaming information below.

The Reserve Casino Hotel
The Reserve Casino Hotel

The Reserve Casino Hotel
321 Gregory St
Central City, Colorado
(800) 924-6646

In the space previously occupied by Central City’s long struggling FORTUNE VALLEY Casino Hotel, THE RESERVE Casino Hotel is making a stand – just a minute from the west-end of Central City Parkway, which is an entry point into the gaming, mountain-town of Central City, Colorado – 45 minutes from Denver. Fortune Valley struggled for years against the “big-boys” on the other-side-of-town (a five-minute drive) in Black Hawk. The big-boys were, at that time, The Ameristar and The Riviera.

Central City had the lock on mom & pop gaming until neighboring gaming-town Black Hawk started building Las Vegas-style casinos down the mountain. Then Black Hawk was getting the lion’s share of business – so… Central City – of Colorado Opera fame – fought back with a new road direct from I-70 into Central City: Central City Parkway (four-lane, 8.4 miles) which is an easy drive from I-70. It’s a safe(r), mountain-valley type, scenic road that passes by old, gold mines and gold/green pasture – and in the winter-time bypasses the sometimes dicey (when snow or other winter conditions are present) Highway 6, paralleling Clear Creek. Now Black Hawk is fighting back: building a four-lane road up/down Highway 6, but that’s another story for another day. I’ll report when the road is finished. The two main entrees into the area are: Highway 6 approaching from the east, paralleling Clear Creek, entering the east end of Black Hawk – at The Riviera! And from the west on Central City Parkway, down from I-70 east passing a few casinos then passing in front of The Reserve! As one can see, both are strategically located – hence the Highway Wars fighting for **the richest square mile on earth.

The Reserve sent me a hotel-room-comp with a chit-for-a-small-amount-of-playing-cash, food discounts and more. I graciously accepted the offer and took a break with the free room.

The hotel has been rethought as a vintage rock & roll showcase with scores (no pun intended) of 60s, 70s music-posters, such as The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Mothers of Invention etc. as well as (authentic) celebrity-autographs on guitars, like Eric Clapton’s, as well as someone’s Gold Record. I recall seeing a photo of Willie Nelson, can’t remember if it was autographed. Willie items are certainly appropriate since Willie Nelson used to live just over the hill near Evergreen, Colorado back in the day. I don’t think the guitars or the gold records are authentic, but was told that there is provenance with the autographs. Besides dozens of guitars, there are also American bike replicas like Captain America’s/Peter Fonda’s) American-Flag motorcycle from the great film classic, EASY RIDER. And to boot there is a huge 15-20 seat tabletop, video-poker bar shaped like a guitar, appropriately called The Guitar Bar (see below.) The Reserve is definitely an authentic, vintage rock & roll casino hotel. It’s a little bit like the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, but just to the extent that there are rock memorabilia everywhere. The theme seems to work and it seems to be the real deal. 60s and 70s groups like POCO, THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS and FOGHAT are currently booked in The Lava Room.

The Guitar Bar at The Reserve
The Guitar Bar at The Reserve

“Colorado’s Only Casino Showroom”
“This 300 person showroom is home to National music acts, local bands, comedians, UFC viewings, sports parties and club type feel in the evenings.”

“The Lava Room is fully equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system, HD TVs at every turn, dance floor, private bar, sunken stage with three levels of seating and standing area, specialty VIP sections, and new outdoor patio conveniently located opposite of the stage.”

The Lava Room
The Lava Room

The Reserve’s website shows basic room-rates from around $90.00 to $180.00. On the upper-end, suites run $140.00 to $200.00.

The rooms are definitely rock & roll: done-up in ***black/orange, yellow/black etc. That took a while to digest, but knowing the black/orange, black/red are all about the “color of fire” makes sense. The important things are that the rooms are clean and secure with flat-screens, coffee-makers, iron/ironing boards, hair dryers, shampoo/conditioner etc. and ice-makers/vending machines just down the hall, small refers and acceptable carpeting. It seems as though Fortune Valley was not in perfect condition when The Reserve took over. All in all it’s acceptable lodging, in my opinion. The beds are extremely comfortable.

Basic room at The Reserve
Basic room at The Reserve

The thing that’s more than acceptable is the little cafeteria/restaurant that serves, in my opinion, one of the best all-things-considered breakfast-buffet ever. $1.99 w/players card gets you: scrambled eggs – in several varieties, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, ham/sausage/bacon, hash-browns, fruit, muffins, bagels with a schmear and all of the rest of important basic American breakfast fare. The buffet is very compact compared to the bigs, but it’s really very adequate. I’ve not sampled the lunch or dinner yet but will in due time. Even if I stay at a different hotel, I’m sure I’d do The Chef’s Kitchen for breakfast.

Lil Buffet at The Reserve
Lil' Buffet at The Reserve

Here are the current prices and hours:
Breakfast: Monday through Friday, 7am – 11am, $5.99 – $1.99 w/players card
Lunch: Monday through Friday, 11am – 4pm, $7.99*
Dinner: Sunday through Thursday, 4pm – 8pm, $10.99*
Champagne Brunch: Saturday and Sunday, 7am – 4pm, $10.99*
Specialty-Dinner: Friday, Steak & Shrimp and Saturday, Prime Rib, 4pm – 8pm, $10.99*
*No discount with players card

There is also a little sandwich shop called Java Express that offers several Panini sandwiches for $5.99;
they also serve salads for about $4-bucks, beverages and Pizza slices ($1.99 or $.99 w/players card)
and whole pies for $5.99 and $10.99, or Calzones $7.99. Beer is available here by the glass or pitcher.

The Reserve also sports a fine-dining Tuscan steak house. Ardore, the Italian restaurant at the casino and hotel, features a 500-bottle wine display. This upscale restaurant is open Friday – Sunday evenings. Dinners are $16.00 – $23.00 – visit the website for complete menus. “Tom Celani is one of the owners of Reserve Casino Hotel, and has a commitment to provide Ardore Tuscan Steakhouse-Seafood-Wine Experience with the highest quality wine, food and guest service. Celani Family wines are featured in Reserve’s gourmet room, named after the Celani Family vineyards prestige wine Ardore.”

****I really can’t comment on the gaming since I really don’t know the casino yet other than saying that they have the standard electronic slots, including video-poker, Keno, Double Bonus and all of the Micky Mouse machines that are so prevalent today. Live tables include poker, blackjack, craps and roulette. ****New gaming information below.

**”The Richest Square Mile On Earth:” “The Colorado Gold Rush began in 1858, leading prospective miners and settlers to discover modest gold deposits in the South Platte River and Cherry Creek in the modern-day Denver area.” “In May of 1859, a major gold strike was found close to Clear Creek in the Rocky Mountains, and Central City was born. By July over 10,000 people lived in the new town of Central City and the surrounding areas.” “By the end of 1859, between $1-1/2 & $2 million in gold was estimated as having been discovered, and the region quickly became known as “The Richest Square Mile On Earthread more…

***After spending another comped night at The Reserve, I was delighted to find that they also have more tastefully decorated rooms like the room with Robin-blue walls in the photo below.

****Well I finally tasted the gaming at The Reserve, and it tasted pretty damn good. Usually I don’t like to comment on gaming since it can be a dicey situation if someone reads an article and looses cash. I’ll just lay it out as it was, but please don’t “bank” on the information leading you to winning hands. I searched for a particular type of machine. I like to play Video Poker and Keno machines, usually in small denominations like pennies or nickels. I found a machine and it was smoke’n. In a two-hour stretch, I hit several four-of-a-kinds, one of which was four-4s which, as you may know pays pretty good. This was a Multi Game slot with variable coin choices of $.05, $.25, $.50 and $1.00. This could be a fluke or as is usually the case I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Whatever the reason, it’s always better to win than to loose. I reserve the right to not reveal the slot or the location – other than saying that I was on the lower floor. Are the slots in the Colorado mountains finally loosening up a bit?

The Reserve - Blue Hotel Room
The Reserve, Blue Hotel Room - photo by WCCarbone

On my last trip up to Central City I snapped this cool (and wet) photo with my little Canon SD 1200 IS. A very welcome rain was saturating the mountain-side. FYI: Those mounds of golden-hued earth are tailings from the gold mines.

Central City in a summer rain
Central City in a summer rain - photo by WCCarbone

Some photos are from The Reserve. See more photos on The Reserve’s website.

Visit The Reserve’s Official Website
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