Las Vegas, NV – Bouchon (Venetian)

Restaurant: Bouchon
Cuisine: French/Fine Dining/Breakfast/Brunch
Last visited: January 25, 2011
Location: Las Vegas, NV (Venetian)
Address: 3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Price Range: $50+

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 4.5
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Fine dining French cuisine
  • Executive chef/owner Thomas Keller
  • 3 locations
  • French bistro
  • Innovative French dining
  • Award winning restaurant
  • One of the most popular in Vegas
  • Local & tourist favourite
  • Elegant, but approachable
  • Seasonal menus
  • Oyster bar
  • On site bakery
  • Seafood/meat
  • Notable wine list
  • Special occasions
  • Private dining available
  • Daily breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner
  • Reservations recommended

**Recommendations: Rillettes aux Deux Saumons, Truite Grenobloise, Poulet Rôti, Ile Flottante, Beignets (if it’s offered on their dessert menu)

Bouchon is tucked away on the 10th floor of the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas and the anticipation was building as I walked through the corridors towards its grand entrance. I felt like Belle from Beauty and the Beast when she’s exploring the castle, but instead of discovering a rose, I discover Bouchon.

Bouchon. The second born child of owner and world renowned Chef Thomas Keller (Chef TK). His first restaurant is of course French Laundry in Napa Valley, which is an exclusive private dining restaurant with a year long wait list. Bouchon is the more casual version, but it’s still fine dining and it’s one of the most popular fine dining restaurants in Las Vegas, I’d say for good reason too. I had the pleasure of trying Chef Keller’s Bouchon Bakery in Napa Valley last year (see my post here), but I never tried his restaurants.

I write about it like I’ve been longing to go for ages, but the truth is it was on my radar, but was never a top priority. The fact that it was Chef Keller made it a very big deal to me, but since Bouchon has three locations it just always seemed like the obvious choice and almost too “readily available”, so I did tend to put it in the “will eventually get there” list. However after a few recommendations from close friends I decided to stop delaying the visit and finally give it a try.

The inside of the restaurant was rather understated, considering the secluded location and somewhat of a journey it takes to get there. However it’s still true to Parisian Bistros, besides the fact that it was spacious and completely no smoking. As much as it’s categorized as fine dining, I actually think it’s one of the more affordable fine dining options in Las Vegas and the ambiance isn’t pretentious for what you may expect.

Our server was curious by my picture taking and was a foodie herself so she did know I was a food blogger, but nonetheless dinner was dinner and I’ll still be honest. However she did invite me to take a tour of the kitchen which I gladly accepted with great enthusiasm.

I found this incredible. Chef has a satellite television set up in the kitchen which features a live stream of each of his 3 kitchens in Beverly Hills, Napa Valley and Las Vegas.

The baked goods getting ready for Bouchon Bakery located on the ground floor of the Venetian. Oh! Are those macarons I see?

Yes! Pistachio & Chocolate Macarons and they let me take them too! Note to self, the bigger macarons they sell at the Bouchon Bakery are more delicious – see here.

At the croissant making station.

All the croissants I ended up making… just kidding! Every single one was identical and so perfect looking that I couldn’t help but to pick one up!

I think I totally lost it at this point and started blabbing about how excited I get about anything sous vide and confit… it was fun! (They probably thought I was crazy… which I am when it comes to food!)

Despite being able to get a behind the scenes look at the incredibly clean and organized kitchen, I have to say that dinner did not disappoint. Some dishes were of course better than others, but I didn’t expect anything less than what was delivered. The value is there and the portions are decent with elegantly prepared food that is still approachable. It was authentic French cuisine with some inventive twists and obvious Chef TK touches, minus the large dining room which isn’t very ‘him’. At the same time the round table family style dining and refined French country cuisine was honest and overall the food and ambiance was rich without feeling rich.

On the table:

Complimentary Bread & butter

  • Done right! And with warm salted pistachios!
  • I wouldn’t expect anything less from Chef Thomas Keller when it comes to great bread.
  • Each of his locations have an on site bakery so breads are baked fresh daily.
  • It was served warm with an incredibly crunchy crust and a soft chewy middle and it was as perfect as a baguette could be.
  • I loved the rustic family style “monkey bread” method of serving as well.

This Rillettes aux Deux Saumons was featured on Food Network by Tyler Florence on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. The method of jarring is an ancient French technique and the layer of lard seals in all the flavours. The capping of lard is removed at the table by the server.

**Rillettes aux Deux Saumons – 6/6
  • Fresh & smoked salmon rillettes served with toasted croutons $17.50
  • I saw the salmon, but being from Vancouver, BC I overlooked it. The description didn’t sound too exciting and it actually took our server to convince me it was worth it. Thank goodness I listened. This was definitely one of the highlights of dinner.
  • The salmon was so creamy, rich and every flake was infused with flavour.
  • It seemed like a mixture of savoury cured salmon and flaky cooked salmon and the texture was incredibly buttery and moist especially since it was preserved.
  • It was tender chunks of flaky cured salmon coated with this rich lemon butter, that didn’t taste oily or greasy, and eaten together it just simply melted in your mouth!
  • It had a beautiful texture and I didn’t even need the crunchy crostini although together it was still divine.
  • The whole appetizer actually reminded me of “The Local Salmon in a Jar” available at Blue Canoe in Steveston Village in Richmond – see my post here.
  • The method of jarring the salmon was the same, except Blue Canoe ‘ups’ the idea by serving it with almond biscotti! I was able to try it once see here, and I remember it being very good, but I also remember the almond being masked by the salmon. I don’t want to compare them or comment too much because it has been a while, but if you’re curious…

Confit de Canard – 3.5/6

  • Crispy duck leg confit, honey-preserved huckleberries, wilted spinach with juniper berry & foie gras vinaigrette $15.50
  • You had to guess it was coming. If duck confit is on the menu 99% of the time it will be on my table.
  • It was good and rather simple, but I can’t say it was my favourite duck confit or even a very memorable one for that matter.
  • The duck itself was incredibly crispy and the meat had great savoury flavour, but it really reminded me of crispy chicken they serve at Chinese banquets. I know that sounds weird but without communicating two of us at the table said “it reminds me of Chinese [in style]”.
  • I have a feeling the duck is fried with peanut oil as well as its own fat. It had a wonderfully nutty flavour and it resembled characteristics of fried chicken.
  • It was a tangy buttery duck fat gravy that was also quite sweet from the bites of juniper berries which were like wrinkly blueberries, but I couldn’t taste their flavour unless I ate them alone.
  • I couldn’t taste the infusion of foie gras in the sauce, and either the berries were too mild of an ingredient or it was a poor crop, but regardless it didn’t play a strong enough role.
  • I was glad I tried the duck confit because the curiosity would have killed me, but at the same time I wouldn’t care to really order it again.

Salade de Cresson et d’Endives au Roquefort et Noix – 4/6

  • Watercress & endive salad with Roquefort, fuji apples, toasted walnuts & walnut vinaigrette $12.75
  • Someone was being good after a very indulgent dinner at Nove Italiano the night before. You can guess, it wasn’t me.
  • I have nothing against salads, but let’s just say they have to be quite fancy for me to order.
  • It was fresh and well assembled despite the fallen leaves you see.
  • It was actually a colour constructed salad and it was the best quality of ingredients listed so it was as good as it could have got.
  • The blue cheese deserves a shout out because it was very creamy with a sharp salty bite and it could have been used as the dressing for the salad.
  • Great quality and flavour with the lemony parsley and slight bitterness of endive, but a touch of honey would have been nice too.

Moules au Safran – 4.5/6

  • Maine bouchot mussels steamed with white wine, mustard & saffron served with French fries $28.50
  • The fries are great, hand cut, skins on and deep fried in peanut oil so they’re very crispy and well seasoned with sea salt. I do wish they came with aoili for dipping though.
  • It came with an ample portion of mussels and probably due to the season and type, but the mussel meat was quite tiny, although still very fresh.

  • The broth was almost like a buttery shallot bouillabaisse sauce with the accent of saffron to bring out a floral aroma.
  • It was a salty and tangy and the quality of white wine they used is incredible. It’s not like I could really taste the white wine since it was cooked out, but you could still taste a hint of it and you could tell it was an important factor in building the flavours of this sauce base.
  • It also used great fruity olive oil which worked really well with the aromatic saffron.
  • There was an infusion of garlic, but it wasn’t too much and the hint of lemon brought out the tang in the white wine as well.
  • There was some added butter for richness, but it wasn’t oily and I could taste a hint of mustard if I searched for it, and it added a slight thickness to the soup.
  • It looks richer than it tastes and it was a nice and light sauce that didn’t overpower the flavour of the mussels. It was great as a dipping sauce with the fries and definitely drinkable with a spoon.

Gnocchi à la Parisienne – 3.5/6

  • Sautéed gnocchi with a fricassée of vegetables & beurre noisette $26.50
  • I do love gnocchi and I’ve had my fair share, but I’ve never had gnocchi that tasted like this one. It was very different and nontraditional.
  • The gnocchi was missing fork ridges, and yes, details like that really do bother me especially when I’m at a fine dining restaurant.
  • The gnocchi was fried crispy, which I like but at times it started tasting like tater tots. The texture and flavour of it was quite eggy and it didn’t taste bad, but it wasn’t that pillowy fluffy traditional gnocchi either.
  • There’s a nice nuttiness from the brown butter sauce, sweetness from the red bell peppers and then richness from the chunks of goat’s feta, but it didn’t have a wow factor or particular uniqueness.
  • I would enjoy this as a shared appetizer or as a side better because the flavours would get a bit tiresome for me.

Coquilles St. Jacques Poêlés – 4/6

  • Sautéed scallops with abalone mushroom & salsify fricassée with lobster royale & black pepper gastrique $36.00
  • This was my official main.
  • It was enjoyable, but I was hoping for a rich and hearty Coquilles St. Jacques considering the description.
  • I thought it would be more traditional French and I expected the serving of the scallops with the shells – see a great version of this dish I had at Le Gavroche here.
  • Maybe I’m just a fatty girl who likes her guilty indulgence of rich food, but as meaty as the scallops and abalone mushrooms were in texture I just wanted more from it.
  • The ingredients used were actually all quite light and I also wanted more contrast in terms of textures.
  • The black pepper gastrique did give it an added richness and I know the lobster royale was supposed to be ultra rich, but it actually wasn’t.
  • The lobster royale (sitting on top of the scallop)
    • This was very Chef TK, he hates wastage, but I don’t feel like it played the “royale” role it should have.
    • It actually tasted like a savoury creamy seafood custard and the texture was very soft and silky smooth like tofu or creme caramel.
    • It was definitely made from lobster tomalley (the livers/guts of a lobster), but the flavour was so mild and surprisingly not rich or even very buttery considering the ingredients. It did have a seafood flavour, but I found it underwhelming or underdeveloped.
    • It kind of blended in with the textures of everything else and seemed a bit random.
    • I think Chef TK tried to emulate similar characteristics to foie gras with the lobster royale, but foie gras is much stronger and meatier. This was very delicate and rich in texture more so than it was in flavour.
  • The plate and lobster royale looks like it was garnished with tobiko, but it tasted like bits of jerky like lobster claws and it was a bit chewy. I think fresh tobiko would have been great to enhance the seafood and savoury flavours in the royale.

  • The scallops were jumbo, great quality and they had a wonderful savoury seared crust and a great steak like texture.
  • They were seared on both sides (my pet peeve when it’s not), but the other wide was barely seared and it was almost like it was done last minute right before it was about to overcook. Call me picky, but I think I can be a bit if I’m at Bouchon.

  • Salsify fricassée
    • I had my first encounter and taste of Salsify a few weeks ago on my “Root Awakening” post at C Restaurant and I admit it was part of the reason I really wanted to try this dish.
    • Salsify was named one of the Top 5 ingredients of 2011 by Food Network and I didn’t really care for it the first time I had it – see here. However Chef TK prepared it in a manner that made me love it and now I really am ‘rooting’ for it 🙂
    • It was prepared in a simple way where the vegetable wasn’t far from its original state, so I really got an idea of its natural flavours.
    • It had the texture of tender and very soft asparagus stems and the flavour of turnip meets fennel root with a delicate hint of licorice, but very mild in flavour overall.
  • The salsify and abalone mushroom side was executed like meat, in a fricassée style, but it was still very healthy tasting and didn’t resemble stewed meats, although the texture of the ingredients were firm and meaty.
  • The black pepper gastique sauce is a very thick and syrupy sauce made with vinegar, wine and fruit and of course lots of peppercorn in this case.
  • The gastrique was aromatic with black peppercorn, but the flavour was not spicy and it reminded me much more of the mild somewhat fruity use of pink peppercorns. It was very bold and tangy and quite sweet and I could actually taste the red wine and fruit. However one of the ingredients left a slight bitterness that I wasn’t keen on.
  • I have the feeling the fruit used might have been juniper berries and it brought an earthy sweet flavour in combination with the peppercorn.
  • I can’t say I appreciated the black pepper gastrique for this dish and the bitter peppercorn flavour wasn’t the best complement to the overall flavours.
  • I’m curious how it would taste with a vanilla bean gastrique made with juniper berries, I can see it working!

**Poulet Rôti – 5/6

  • Roasted chicken with glazed celery root, Jura wine-poached apples, herb quenelles, chestnut confit & chicken jus $29.50
  • This was no ordinary chicken and it was actually excellent.
  • The chicken was moist, tender and perfectly roasted with a crispy skin for the most part. It was cooked in duck fat and resembled a duck confit and I did like it better than the duck confit overall. It had more “wow” factor.
  • It was a very sweet and syrupy rich chicken jus that was reduced very well and almost like a demi glace, but chicken in flavour throughout. I couldn’t taste the duck fat although it was used in the sauce to give it that richness.
  • It’s a great winter entree and I loved the tender vegetable, fruit and nut mixture, but I did want more contrast in textures and flavours since they were all cut to the same size. I definitely could have used more chestnuts too.
  • I couldn’t taste the fine details in the preparation of each vegetable or fruit and it was more natural in flavours and not as sweet as I expected. It tasted like it was simply sauteed in butter and parsley so I couldn’t taste the duck fat being used in this either. If anything the chicken jus made it sweeter.
  • I did want a crisp or crunchy texture or/and a burst of sweet juicy fruit in the confit medley.
  • I think raisins or prunes would have done it, they use duck and prunes in France all the time. It’s just nothing really stood out, so there was an accent missing to this medley of ingredients, which prevented it from reaching the next level.

**Truite Grenobloise – 6/6

  • Pan-roasted trout with cauliflower florets, sultanas, toasted brioche & truffle cauliflower purée $28.50
  • I really enjoyed this trout and it was my favourite main. I want to kiss it!
  • The description called my name and the outcome did live up to what was promised.
  • On the other hand it reminded me of a dish I had from Redd in Napa Valley (see The Caramelized Diver Scallops here) and Chef Reddington changed my palate so I couldn’t help but to compare aspects of the dishes and I have to say that Redd… you are a devil. However this one was still tres excellent!
  • The textures, flavours, protein, choice and combination of ingredients were bang on.
  • It was moist, flaky fish with a crispy skin underneath, and then a topping of tender cauliflower florets, sweet bursts of plump raisins, and crispy buttery lemony brioche croutons.
  • It’s sweet and savoury flavours were paired with a lovely aroma and strong flavour of truffle in a creamy cauliflower puree sauce.
  • It wasn’t too rich because it was cauliflower, but it was rich truffle flavour and just the perfect complement to the fish without being overpowering.
  • The toppings were like a gourmet savoury and sweet trail mix and I loved the fruitiness of the raisins. It tasted great with the fish or alone.
  • DROOL!! My mouth is watering just thinking about it again.
  • I could have used crispier and more caramelized cauliflower florets, but I’m satisfied with what was given.
  • The tangy bite of salty capers or pearl onions would have been nice as well, but overall it was perfectly seasoned and beautiful throughout. This is something I look forward to ordering again.

Croque Madame – n/a

  • Toasted ham & cheese sandwich on brioche, fried egg & mornay sauce served with French fries $18.95
  • I’m sorry Chef Keller!! I Croque MaDAMN the man who ordered this WITHOUT your fried egg & Mornay sauce!!! It pains me to even include this in my post. I’m as traumatized as you are! I can’t argue with personal tastes, but I CAN argue with people not willing to at least TASTE something NEW!!! Please!! I beg you to explore or you’ll miss out on a world of deliciousness!
  • *SIGH* This was ordered by our “white bread and butter” American friend and yes that is his bottle of COKE behind the mound of fries. Oh I’m in pain… I want to cry :*(
  • I can’t even comment on this because it’s not meant to be served this way.
  • I still had a bite of the sandwich which was still good, but at the same time so meh without the complete order. Oh please lets move onto a better topic…

The Dessert

Profiteroles – 4/6

  • Vanilla ice cream & chocolate sauce $9.50
  • This was delicious and it was probably the most perfect profiteroles could get, but at the same time there were no surprises and anything is good with ice cream.
  • They pour the chocolate sauce at the table and the chocolate is creamy and great quality, and it actually didn’t harden which surprised me.

  • Personally, I prefer ice cream to cream, so I liked the switch up, but it would have been great to get the whipped cream or pastry cream served along side as well. Or all 3!
  • The choux pastry was crispy, light and airy and nicely sweetened and almost like a biscuit or cookie, but still soft.
  • The chocolate was a bittersweet chocolate sauce and it wasn’t oily or too sweet.
  • The vanilla ice cream is made in house and it’s wonderfully rich and creamy with vanilla bean seeds throughout.
  • Overall, well assembled and very good, but it was what it was.

**Ile Flottante – 5.5/6

  • Meringue with vanilla crème anglaise, almond & salted caramel $9.00
  • I’ve never had anything like this before and it was so unique and creative.
  • The warm salted caramel sauce is poured at your table.
  • The meringue was a very soft, airy, fluffy and light marshmallow cloud and it was almost bubbly like a marshmallow version of an Aero bar. It was almost creamy and foamy and it wasn’t stringy, sticky, crispy, or even that sweet for a meringue.
  • It was surrounded by a pool of creme anglaise that was loaded with vanilla bean seeds and the salted caramel just intensified the vanilla bean flavour like crazy.
  • All this was followed by the sweeter salted caramel sauce that was more like a candied caramel syrup that would go around a candy apple. The saltiness was perfectly balanced with the sweetness.
  • The vanilla creme anglaise almost lightened up the sweetness and brought it back down a notch too. It was perfect!
  • It would have been nice to have the almonds more incorporated, but it was still a great addition as a garnish.
  • I was scared it was going to be overly sweet, but it wasn’t at all! It was very pleasant to eat as the last course and I would consider it a lighter dessert.
  • Bouchon Bakery makes a salted caramel popcorn with peanuts and I think it would have been perfect as garnish for this dessert, but replace the peanuts with almonds.

Bouchons (Daily special) – 3/6

  • With rocky Road Ice Cream $9.50
  • I don’t get the hype for these chocolate Bouchons, which are essentially chocolate brownies.
  • It’s one of the most famous items to come out of Bouchon Bakery and I tried them in Napa Valley last year and I found them very regular – see here. It’s a very dense brownie and it’s very rich and thick and more bittersweet than it is sweet. It’s more like cake and I find them overrated.
  • The Rocky Road Ice Cream was good and the marshmallows were homemade, light and fluffy, but overall the Bouchons were supposed to be the highlight and I appreciated the other components more.

**Doughnuts or Beignets (Daily special)5.5/6

  • With pistachio Ice Cream $9
  • Unlike the Bouchon, aka brownie, this doughnut was no regular doughnut.
  • This was perhaps the most perfect a doughnut could get and paired with one of my favourite flavours of ice cream, pistachio.
  • I didn’t see or taste anything wrong. I only give it a 5.5/6 because I’ve had better desserts than this, but this was excellent.
  • I should note that I do have a super soft spot for any dessert with warm and cold textures as well as ice cream. I scream for ice cream… literally.

  • The doughnuts were the gourmet version of carnival doughnuts, but bigger and very fluffy. It’s soooo fluffy!!!
  • They had a light dusting of sugar and were soft and fluffy like pillows. As you sink your teeth into them out oozes a thick and creamy warm vanilla bean custard that is melt in your mouth delicious. It was equal parts custard to doughnut and eaten alone these doughnuts were heavenly.
  • The pistachio ice cream had crispy bits of real pistachios throughout and it was so flavourful and made in house.
  • As creamy as all the textures were, nothing was overly sweet. It was simply a parade of wonderful!
  • The beignets combined with the pistachio nut, pistachio ice cream, bittersweet chocolate dipping sauce and the accent of wamm vanilla bean custard in one bite… I almost fell off my chair.

[geotag]

Bouchon (Venetian) on Urbanspoon

20 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *