This comes a little late I know, but here it is finally. While in Vegas some weeks ago I visited Thomas Keller’s Bouchon. I hadn’t heard of Bouchon until about a month before my trip, when at a wine bar I had a long conversation with a stranger who told me stories of his dinners at accoladed restaurants, Bouchon among them. About Thomas Keller I knew what I learned reading about him in culinary school. The details of what I read escape me but the image of Keller as a mysterious culinary magician stuck with me.
Bouchon is styled after a Paris bistro. It was a Sunday night and the restaurant was close to empty. The paper menus are neatly folded in a rectangle around the cloth napkins on the table. They open up like a map containing seafood, caviar, hors d’ouevres, entrees, salads, sides, desserts, cheese. Their wine list could be intimidating to novices like us but they try to make it somewhat easy.At the top of the menu there’s a selection of wines sold by the glass, half carafe and full carafe. These are divided by white, red, sparkling and champagnes, and then you have the sommelier’s choice. Below you have even more choices divided by French whites, American whites, French reds and American reds. We chose one of the less expensive options ($43), Les Heretiques 2004 VdP l’Herault, a blend of carignan and syrah by Chateau d’Oupia, described in the menu as “soft, beaujolais style.” I would say it’s a safe choice.
I started with the soup of the day, a carrot soup served with a dollop of cardamom creme fraiche. This may sound strange but I loved it because it tasted like pure carrots, nothing more. It was simple, smooth with a little sweetness. D and my friend had the French onion soup. The soup was the perfect combination of beef broth, bread and cheese. As they say, simple is complex and they did this right.
D ordered steak frites and my friend a flatiron steak. Both were juicy and tender. Again, simple but satisfying. My mussels in white wine with mustard and saffron were delicate and light. The accompanying fries served in a cone-line cup lined with wax paper were perfect.
For dessert, chocolate mousse (pictured above) and chocolate bouchons — three small chocolate cakes shaped like corks, bouchons, served with vanilla ice cream.
At Bouchon, I didn’t find Keller’s magic in the shape of the innovation and creativity I had read about. That’s not what Bouchon is about. But I did find simple food done well, and that in itself is magic.
Bouchon Las Vegas
The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino, Venezia Tower
3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 10101