rhythmcityone I’m not a big casino guy. I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve gone to casinos to actually gamble, and every single one of those instances was at the insistence of one of my friends. That said, if you are a casino person, you’re going to love the new Rhythm City Casino venue. And if you’re like me, and lukewarm at best on the casinos, you’ll still enjoy the other amenities quite a bit.

I was invited to a special sneak preview of the venue at 7077 Elmore Ave., last Sunday, along with the contractors, construction workers, employees and their families, who were there to see the fruits of their labors – and they should be very proud.

The new Rhythm City is a huge upgrade over the downtown spot. It’s a gorgeous facility that reminds me of similar venues near Chicago, most notably those newer ones in the suburbs. The first thing that strikes you is that the exterior is a bit muted and not as gaudy as casinos typically are, which, to me, is a plus, and once you get inside, it has a similarly understated feel.

rhythmcitytwoThe architecture and design of the space is obviously meant to mimic its previous environment on the river, in that there is an aqueous theme to the décor. The rugs are beautiful and rich in dark blues and vibrant colors which mimic the patterns of running water and raindrops. Likewise lush and gorgeous, the wall decorations and motifs are also a mimic of the rushing water of the river, making the entire casino an understated homage to the Mississippi.

Beyond that, there are the typical loud and in-your-face casino amenities and each is big and bold and bountiful, which, again, is what you expect and want from a casino. The gaming areas are well-packed with options, the sports bar is terrific – I especially loved the 360 style screen in the middle of the room which gave an awesome immersive experience – and the buffet is full of delicious options. Like any casino buffet, there are some misses and a few things which I found less impressive than others. The salad bar is a bit thin options-wise, food isn’t marked for people concerned with food allergies and diabetic issues and when we were there the shrimp skewers looked great but were cold, as in not cooked all the way through. But the new Rhythm City gets some very important things right food-wise – the beef and pork entrees, including ribs, prime rib, burgers and the like are fantastic, the chicken and Midwestern fare like potatoes and vegetables are hearty and delicious, and the gelato bar is packed with terrific flavors, including key lime, grapefruit and tiramisu, all of which are top notch.

rhythmcitythreeWhile we didn’t get to sample the fare at the new upscale restaurant, Ruthie’s, the interior design of the place is beautiful. It’s easily one of, if not the, most elegant restaurant in the area in regard to design, with a terrific view and wonderful modern design touches, including glassed-in rooms, a wine wall and an elegantly styled bar. The menu is likewise promising and intriguing, with more upscale selections mingling with some interesting surprises. It seems perfect for a romantic dinner or a night away.

Likewise impressive were the event rooms, which were spacious and accommodating, and seem well-prepped for formal and corporate events as well as the concerts and performance events that will be heading their way.

In all, the new Rhythm City is a magnificent new venue for the area, and a terrific upgrade. And, again, keep in mind this is not coming from a casino aficionado, this is coming from a guy who goes to watch bands in bars and hits coffeehouses on the regular. If I enjoyed it this much, if you’re a casino fan, you’re going to love it. Definitely check it out when it opens this weekend.

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written almost 30 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.