>> Friday, February 18, 2011
I'm a pretty big fan of Thomas Keller.
If you just look at my restaurant posts this past year, you'd think I was on some sort of subconscious mission to try every single Thomas Keller restaurant in America. I mean, between The French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon Bakery, and now Bouchon Bistro, I'm pretty darn close. All I have left is that famous fried chicken at Ad Hoc. Heck, I've even cooked from several of his cookbooks, including a multi-course meal made completely with sous vide, and of course my beloved TKOs.
Bouchon Bistro is clearly very different from The French Laundry and Per Se, which are extremely upscale restaurants with three Michelin stars each. Thomas Keller decided to open the more casual Bouchon Bistro because he wanted to capture the essence of the amazing bistros he enjoyed while traveling in France. These were typically small, intimate family-owned venues where the husband cooked in the back while the wife managed the front of the house. He wanted Bouchon Bistro to be "a place where people come to relax, talk, and to eat. A kind of home."
I'll agree that Bouchon Bistro is a great place to relax. Though it hardly has the feel of a small, family-owned home, it retains the warmth and comfort of a traditional French bistro. Situated on the 10th floor in a slightly hard-to-find part of the Venetian, Bouchon takes the classic French bistro and nudges it up just a bit with that Thomas Keller flair.
Case in point: the moment you sit down, you are greeted with beautiful artisanal baguettes (strewn across the table!), fresh butter, and pistachios!
Macaroni au Gratin (fancy way of saying mac & cheese!) $7.50
Soupe a l'Oignon (French onion soup) $9.75
We came here with a couple friends who actually brought their two young children. Surprisingly, it was fine. The seats were spacious; there were kid-accessible dishes on the menu; and the servers handed out a box of crayons and some paper. The kids got some "Macaroni au Gratin" and "Soup a l"Oignon." [It's funny how just saying something in French makes it sound 10x more elegant]
Oh, they also loved the bread on the table!
Truite Grenobloise pan-roasted trout with cauliflower florets, sultanas,toasted brioche & truffle cauliflower purée $28.50
Bryan ended up getting this really really delicious pan roasted trout. The combination of flavors inside the fish worked beautifully together (I mean, how can you go wrong with cauliflowers and truffles!) We loved how the toasted brioche added just the right amount of textural contrast (i.e. crunch) to the soft cauliflower puree and the ever-so-tender fish. For some, it may be a bit disconcerting to have your dinner stare at you all night. Bryan was totally fine with it though, as Chinese people have been eating fish this way for generations.
Côtelette de Porc pork delmonico chop, Brussels sprouts, red wine-glazed pears & roasted shallot pork jus $34.95
My friend got the pork and let us all try generous bites of it. "There's no way I can finish this! Have another piece!!" The pork was juicy, flavorful, and overall delicious. The roasted Brussels sprouts were solid - nothing I couldn't make at home, but good.
Steak Bouchon New York strip steak, Yukon gold potato rösti, sauce béarnaise $45
Coquilles St. Jacques Poêlés sautéed scallops with abalone mushroom & salsify fricassée
with lobster royale & black pepper gastrique $36.00
I ordered the scallops, which were solid, but nothing particularly special. The mushrooms were quite nice, but I've had better scallops elsewhere.
Trio of Bouchons with Ice Cream
I loved the bouchons from Bouchon Bakery, so we opted to share this dessert. It's delicious (as expected). The bouchons, which are quite chocolately, rich, and sweet, are nicely tempered by the creamy ice cream.
Overall, Bouchon Bistro is an excellent restaurant where everything is well executed - no real misses. Of course, the prices are your typical inflated Vegas Strip prices, which can get annoying after you spend more than a few days there. If you can ignore that aspect of it (which you have to if you want to actually enjoy your meals in Vegas), I think you can have a great time here.
I think my favorite dish was Bryan's pan roasted trout because its combination of flavors was more unique and interesting compared to the other dishes. All the other menu items we ordered were solidly executed and delicious as well - just not as unique or interesting.
If you only have a few days in Vegas, I probably would not pick this as a destination dining place.* Yes, the food is excellent and the ambiance is relaxing. However, it's the type of food you can probably find elsewhere. I would instead visit more interesting, Vegas specific-type places, like B&B Ristorante, Joel Robuchon, Jean Phillipe Patisserie, or even China Poblano!
*I might be biased because I generally think typical French food (piece of meat with a side of roasted veggies + carbs) is kind of boring
This post is part of a larger Las Vegas series. Posts in this series:
Beijing Noodle No. 9
Joel Robuchon (The Mansion)
Enoteca San Marco
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109