October 20th, 2007

On the road: Bouchon Las Vegas

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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
Las Vegas
702.414.6200

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5 Responses to “On the road: Bouchon Las Vegas”

  1. As Keller you take us through your experience at Bouchun in a very simple and refreshing way. That it is magic too.

    I am not sure if I will try Keller (never had)but if I do for sure will remember what to look for

  2. First of all, great wine choice! Perfect food wine. Beautiful label, too-if you have to look at a bottle on your table for the whole meal, nice to look at this one. Would it hurt to know that that bottle retails for under $10? They probably pay no more than $5-6/bottle. I’m no math major, but that is one helluva markup. Curious how the rest of the meal was priced. I’m sure you made it all back on the craps tables, anyway.

  3. MD – Oh yes, I looked up the wine online and found it retailed for $6-8. I’d rather not dwell on that thought too much. Ouch! And to think it was one of their least expensive. The meal wasn’t cheap. There are some pricy items on the menu like a caviar for $125 (sterling white sturgeon) and a terrine de foie gras for $48, which I’ve heard is good. My mussels with fries were $26.50; the steak frites was $34.50. Not cheap but at least it was good and the portions were generous. Total for three people with three soups, three entrees, two desserts and the bottle of wine was $250 including tip.

  4. My steak was so tender! I think I was drooling during the whole meal and the french onion soup was the best I’ve had.

  5. Not too pricey, really. Although watching D drool for the whole meal is definitely worth the price of admission.

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