Sunday, October 01, 2006

dinner #1 in vegas

When we were planning our trip to Vegas, I was excited to learn that Bouchon is located in the Venetian. There's a Bouchon in Yountville, CA up near Napa, but Mr. Cupcake and I have yet to make the trip up to that area. Bouchon is owned by the famed Thomas Keller who also owns the French Laundry. We will eventually make the trip for French Laundry. I'm thinking birthday '07 (do you hear that Mr. Cupcake?!).

I used OpenTable to make a reservation for six about a week prior. Our party included Tristan, Delia, Soo, Chrisi, Mr. Cupcake, and me. We were all a bit delirious from traveling that day, so this was our "Welcome to Vegas" meal. We needed something special after our food court lunch where we dined on specialties from Panda Express.

I managed to snag a Bouchon menu, but unfortunately, I think I left it in the room at the hotel. So, I'll try to my best to recall our meal from memory.

The meal started off with bread. I was convinced this was a good sign of the things to come because the bread was nice and crusty on the outside. It wasn't quite as dense as I like, but it didn't keep me from stuffing my face with the carby goodness. The group also liked pulling apart the nubby pieces of bread.

Mr. Cupcake and Chrisi ordered the French onion soup. Mr. Cupcake is a French onion soup lover, but he and Chrisi weren't impressed by this soup. The main issue was that the soup tasted like beef broth instead of salty onions. It was lackluster for both of them, but it at least made Chrisi's sore throat feel better.

I debated whether or not to get the French onion soup, but our waiter convinced me to get the corn soup. It tasted like sweet creamed corn and after tasting the French onion soup, I was very happy with my selection. The soup was very smooth and creamy. There was also a small piece of sweet corn bread in the middle. I wish it had been bigger because it was tasty. This soup will please any corn lover.

Soo and Delia ordered what they thought was a watercress salad. When it came out, everyone oooh'ed and ahhh'ed. Unfortunately, it didn't taste as impressive as it looked. They were both disappointed that there was very little watercress. Instead, the salad was mostly endive. They felt the menu was misleading.

Chrisi ordered the steak and fries. While the overall quality of the meat was good, Chrisi wasn't a fan of the sauce on top. I can't remember what it was. Maybe he'll chime in and tell us. In the mean time, we can sit here and eagerly anticipate his response.

Tristan ordered the roast chicken. It had a honey (I think) mustard sauce to it. He was afraid that the sauce was going to be too overwhelming, but it wasn't. Instead the flavor was light, the skin was crispy, and the meat was tender and juicy. Later in the trip, he declared this was his favorite meal of the trip.

Delia and Mr. Cupcake ordered the pork roast special. It came with a pear and potato side. Neither of them were particularly fond of the potato, but Delia felt the pork was the best meal of the weekend. Mr. Cupcake liked the pork, but wasn't blown away. I tried the pork and was surprised how tender it was. It nearly melted in my mouth. I didn't really feel the pear complimented the pork that well. It seemed out of place.

When we were ordering, Delia couldn't decide over the steak or the pork. The waiter told us the French fries were a signature item, which made the decision even harder. Delia went with the pork, and we ordered a side of fries. The order was huge, and we didn't come anywhere close to finishing them. However, the fries were very good. Bouchon cooks the fries in peanut oil, and it gives them a really nice flavor. It also gave me a really nice night of heartburn. I hate getting old.

I ordered the gnocchi. I usually love gnocchi, but this version was not my favorite. It was mixed with mushrooms and tomatoes. I ate all the tomatoes and the mushrooms, but the gnocchi itself was too overwhelming. The potato dumplings seemed to be pan fried, but there was a greasiness to them. The gnocchi really needed a sauce because it left a very dry feeling in my mouth. After I ate all the vegetables, I looked for something else to eat, but all I could reach for were the french fries and the bread on the table. The end result was carb overload. This dish has a lot of potential; it just needs a sauce.

Soo had the fish special. I can't remember what it was, but Mr. Cupcake thinks maybe it was grouper. There were beets in the sauce, which she wasn't sure about, but she took the plunge anyway. I know she wasn't super impressed with the fish. Again, I can't remember why. Tell us why Soo!

We passed on dessert because we were all stuffed. This became a common theme in our trip. Even breathing was challenging at times because we ate too much, but more on that another day.

Our total bill including drinks, a bottle of wine, tax and an automatic 20% tip was $340.44. While most of us weren't blown away Bouchon, it was still a good night. I mean come on, we were in Vegas! I'm pretty sure Chrisi and Tristan were having a good time considering they drank half a bottle of rum in them before we even made it to dinner. I'm not opposed to giving Bouchon another chance; it just won't be in Vegas. After our trip, I got the distinct feeling that a lot of these restaurants don't need to provide outstanding food; people will pay anyway.


mrcupcake said...

Underwhealming. The bread was the best part of the meal. I've had better pork in a carnitas burrito in Mountain View.

How I miss the days of dinner at the Holly Hill Inn. It's one of the few reasons to go to Kensucky.

Anonymous said...

Just FYI...

The reason the fries are their signature item is because they are fried in duck fat, not peanut oil.

Anonymous said...

I had the gnocchi last week. It was excellent. It had a smokey taste. I don't usually eat mushrooms, but it was all excellent.
I could have eaten it all night.
Everyone at our table enjoyed their meals.
The only downside we had was our waiter tried to be funny and, well, he wasn't.