Bouchon – 7/24/10

Bouchon
The Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

exterior4 500x335 Bouchon   7/24/10

Bouchon has become an ‘old staple’ – the restaurant consistently serves up delicious and comfortable food. So, being in Vegas this past weekend with a big group, Bouchon was a good choice to provide some good food that would appeal to everyone.

A meal at Bouchon always starts with their famous epi bread. Oddly, we received two loaves – one underbaked and one overbaked. The juxtaposition of the two loaves made that fact more evident.

bread 500x335 Bouchon   7/24/10

With the bread came a simple cup of pistachios, lightly salted. These were actually quite tasty.

pistachios 500x335 Bouchon   7/24/10

I ordered a French Onion soup, reminiscing on the strong effort from Daniel Boulud Brasserie on my last Vegas visit.

french onion 500x335 Bouchon   7/24/10

This soup was another very good rendition, with a hearty beef flavor. The onion was not overpowering, and provided a nice sweetness. Great soup for a warm day. Granted, it was 110 degrees outside on this day – and this was still good.

Carré de Porc kurobuta pork loin with summer stone fruit, field greens & whole grain mustard sauce

pork 500x335 Bouchon   7/24/10

This looks like a very simple dish, and the pork looks rather plain and dry. However, this was not the case. The pork was quite moist and flavorful, and the peaches added a sweetness that went well. The portion was rather inconsistent with many of the other entrees on the menu, which tend to be on the large size.

Roasted Veal Costalleta Chop glazed Tokyo turnips, whole grain mustard spatzel, bing cheeries, Forestiere butter

veal 500x335 Bouchon   7/24/10

This dish was the entree of the day, and came highly recommended by the server. The veal, served bone-in, was cooked perfectly, leaving a very moist and tender piece of meat. The turnips and cherries were great accompaniments, along with the al dente spatzel.

Gnocchi à la Parisienne sautéed gnocchi with a fricassée of vegetables & beurre noisette

gnocchi 500x335 Bouchon   7/24/10

Bouchon makes some very good gnocchi. The gnocchi are very light and pillowy, and the vegetables add a vibrant, fresh flavor.

Pommes Frites

frites 500x335 Bouchon   7/24/10

You can’t come to Bouchon and not order the fries. You just can’t. These are quite simple, and seasoned just with salt. But the execution is flawless, with a consistently crisp exterior and fluffy interior. Beautiful.

Next we were on to the desserts. For me, many restaurants fail to have desserts that live up to the appetizer and entree. At Bouchon, this is definitely not the case. If I had to make a meal out of the dessert menu, Bouchon would be a pretty damn good choice.

Bouchons vanilla ice cream & chocolate sauce

bouchons 500x335 Bouchon   7/24/10

Their signature dessert, which is always an off-menu “special,” are these cork-shaped brownies made of valrhona chocolate. Usually they have a selection of ice creams, but it was only vanilla on this day. I love the interplay of chocolate and vanilla, and this dessert hits that spot on.

Profiteroles vanilla ice cream & chocolate sauce

profiteroles 500x335 Bouchon   7/24/10

What a pretty dessert. The profiteroles are brought to the table and then topped with a chocolate sauce. Again, the vanilla and chocolate flavors meld very well together – really a simple and delicious dessert.

Beignets pastry cream filling & vanilla ice cream

beignets 500x335 Bouchon   7/24/10

This was the daily special dessert of the evening. The first thing I thought of when I heard “beignets” was the coffee & doughnuts dessert at The French Laundry. I loved that doughnut, and I loved this one too. Light and fluffy, this beignet was filled with a light, sweet pastry cream. It was kind of reminiscent of a lighter version of a Krispy Kreme cream-filled doughnut. Excellent. I wish we had a different flavor ice cream, however, as this was the third of three desserts with the same flavor.

Overall, a very good meal at Bouchon. I’ve come to expect well-executed, comfortable food at each location, and Bouchon seems to always come through.

LudoBites – 7/21/10

LudoBites 5.0 at Gram & Papa’s
227 E 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

exterior3 LudoBites   7/21/10

I was lucky enough to score a reservation to the opening night of this fifth incarnation of LudoBites. The husband-and-wife team of Ludo and Krissy Lefebvre continues to dramatically grow in popularity, clearly indicated by the reservation system crashing once reservations were available this time around. 3000 people tried to log on to the reservation system when it opened up at 5pm on July 7, more than it could handle.

Ludo is one of the most unique chefs around, with his pop-up restaurants giving the public just a brief taste of his ever-changing modern take on French cuisine – before it goes away again. The venue for this iteration is the same as LudoBites 4.0; perfect for me considering I live and work in downtown.

Given that this was LudoBites opening night, I expected to recognize some people, whether it be other chefs, celebrities or bloggers. My expectations were warranted, as Kevin of kevinEats and Ryan of Epicuryan sat down at a neighboring table, and Ludo superfan food writer Jonathan Gold was present as well.

menu 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

We tried most of the dishes offered, starting with the naan.

Vadouvan Naan Bread, Salted Coconut Butter

naan 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

The bread was a bit on the salty side, but a decent rendition of naan. The salted coconut had a good coconut flavor; but overall, this ‘bread course’ didn’t stand up to the baguette with honey lavender butter of LudoBites 4.0 – which I really enjoyed.

Grilled Squid, Heirloom Tomato Salad, Black Rice, Yuzu Red Onions, Umami Broth & Seaweed Tartar

squid 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

I really liked this dish. It screamed “summer” with its fresh, perfectly cooked seafood, and light vibrant flavors primarily from the tomatoes and yuzu red onions.

Raw Wagyu Beef, Dried Miso, Somen Noodle, Peanut Vinaigrette, Candied Watermelon, Mint

beef noodles 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10


Our server, as well as Krissy Lefebvre herself, raved about this dish…and it did not disappoint. Raw slices of wagyu beef topped cold somen noodles. I love beef with noodles, so this was right down my alley. The beef was not too chewy, and provided some great flavor, complemented by some mint and watermelon. The peanut vinaigrette provided just the right amount of acidity to cut through the rich meat. However, I’m not sure I could tell that this was wagyu beef if someone hadn’t told me.

Poached Egg, Potato Mousseline, Santa Barbara Spot Prawn, Chorizo Condiment

poached egg 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

This was probably my favorite dish of the night. A silky smooth potato mousseline sat atop a nicely poached egg, on top of some chopped pieces of spot prawn. Great combination here. The potato flavor was subtle, but the combination of the richness of the egg and the sweetness of the prawns was just perfect.

Grilled Octopus, Oregano, Grilled Hazelnut Polenta, Pineapple Aioli, Piment D’Espelette Gelee

octopus 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

I don’t think I’ve ever had octopus in this sort of presentation, with a large grilled tentacle on the plate. The octopus was cooked very well – moist and tender with a great, charred grill flavor. The gelee, a combination of a number of spices, was strong and really brought out some of the flavors of the octopus.

Next on to the entrees – four were offered on this night.

Hot Foie Gras, Chinese Barbecue Sauce, Miso Eggplant Terrine

foie gras 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

A very generous chunk of foie gras was presented, perfectly seared. Chinese hoisin sauce was a prominent flavor – I never imagined foie gras with hoisin sauce – but I thought these flavors went well together. In addition, it came with an eggplant terrine, a really unique preparation. Often when I have eggplant, it’s fairly mushy, but that was not the case here – it was more of an al dente texture.

Day Boat Cod, Torched Uni, Ratatouille, Red Bell Pepper Pickles, Black Curry

cod 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

I enjoyed this dish. The cod was cooked well and was really moist. The ratatouille was fantastic as well. I didn’t think the uni was really necessary though – tasty, but not adding much extra to the dish. I found the black curry to be very overpowering in this dish though, and stayed away from it.

Confit Pork Belly, Raw Choucroute Thai Style, Guiness, Emulsion

pork belly1 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

pork belly2 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

What restaurant doesn’t offer pork belly nowadays? This was an excellent rendition, with moist, succulent pieces of pork. The choucroute’s acidity provided a nice balance to the fattiness of the pork.

Steamed Duck, Lemon Verbena, Crispy Skin Puree, White Peach, Radish, Balsamic

duck 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

This dish was a little underwhelming for me. The duck, while cooked well, was steamed, and I was missing some of the complex, deep flavors that come with searing the meat. The crispy skin provided some nice textural crunch, but it wasn’t quite enough for me.

Next we were on to the desserts.

Campfire Smoked S’mores, Guacamole Sorbet

smore 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

The smore was a nice treat, and beautifully presented. However the guacamole (primarily just avocado) sorbet combination just didn’t work for any of us at the table.

Caramel Souffle, Blanco Grapefruit, Fleur De Sel Ice Cream

souffle 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

The last iteration of LudoBites featured a very popular dark chocolate souffle. This time around it was caramel – and I think it’s even better. The amount of caramel flavor was just right, and I really enjoyed the Fleur De Sel ice cream, effectively making this a ‘salted caramel’ souffle. Yum.

In all, we were all very satisfied with the meal. It was very solid from start to finish. Do I think it was better than LudoBites 4.0? Hard for me to say; they were both very, very good. I’ll probably have to make a return trip soon in order to make a judgment like that. Service was pretty good this time around..and as usual, Krissy and Ludo are very gracious hosts.

Daniel Boulud Brasserie – 7/4/10

Daniel Boulud Brasserie
Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89136


exterior2 Daniel Boulud Brasserie   7/4/10

We came to Daniel Boulud’s sole Las Vegas restaurant on what would be its last night of service. The Daniel Boulud name just did not attract enough people to the restaurant – evidenced by the restaurant being only half full on its final night during July 4th weekend.

We ordered variations of the “Taste of Wynn” fixed menu, as well as a supplemental burger.

DB’s Onion Soup – cheese, beef shank, guinness

soup 500x335 Daniel Boulud Brasserie   7/4/10

I really enjoyed this soup. Good onion flavor, with a hearty, deep beef flavor imparted by the beef shank. The mixture of the cheeses was delicious as well.

Duck Terrine – foie gras, pistachio, country toast

terrine 500x335 Daniel Boulud Brasserie   7/4/10

The terrine was nice, with chunks of duck and foie gras mingled throughout. The pistachio added some crunchy texture, which went well in the terrine.

Scottish Salmon – asparagus, english peas, sauce bearnaise

fish 500x335 Daniel Boulud Brasserie   7/4/10

The salmon was cooked perfectly. However, I thought the rich bearnaise sauce was a little overpowering for the delicate salmon.

Steak Frites – 8 oz. sirloin, watercress, french fries

steak 500x335 Daniel Boulud Brasserie   7/4/10

The steak was great. Tender, flavorful and cooked well. The fries were also delicious, as they came out hot and crispy.  The watercress provided a nice counterpoint, adding a light peppery flavor.

Original BY DB Burger – 9 oz. sirloin burger stuffed with braised short ribs, foie gras, and black truffle, on a parmesan bun with french fries

burger1 500x335 Daniel Boulud Brasserie   7/4/10

Considering we had been to Burger Bar earlier in the day for lunch, we wanted to try this as a sort of comparison. Boulud was one of the pioneers of the high-end burger trend, so I really wanted to give this a try.

burger2 500x335 Daniel Boulud Brasserie   7/4/10

You can see the burger is just completely stuffed with beef, foie gras and short ribs. Very rich and decadent, you can pick out the beefy flavors of the sirloin and short rib, as well as the foie gras, but I felt the truffles were a bit muted. However, this was still a very good burger, but probably too rich for one person to enjoy.

Chocolate Hazelnut Fondant - nougatine crunch, coffee ice cream

dessert2 500x335 Daniel Boulud Brasserie   7/4/10

I really enjoyed this dessert, however full I was after that burger. The coffee ice cream was delicious, to start, with a deep coffee flavor. The chocolate cake was fairly dense and richly chocolate – chocolate and coffee are a great pairing.

Meyer Lemon Tart – candied lemon rind, thai basil ice cream

dessert1 500x335 Daniel Boulud Brasserie   7/4/10

This was a really pretty dessert. The tart was quite sour, indicative of the meyer lemon,  but the sweet lemon rind provided a nice sweetness. The thai basil ice cream was really delicious, and I thought it went pretty well with the strong lemon flavor of the tart.

In all, the meal was very solid. Nothing exceptionally creative, per se, but comfortable food executed well. I don’t think it deserves to close (there are a ton of restaurants that are worse), but people just weren’t coming. Rumor has it that Boulud is looking for other places in Vegas to have a restaurant. Considering the strip’s heavy emphasis on name-brand chefs, it’s probably only a matter of time.

Burger Bar – 7/4/10

Burger Bar
Mandalay Bay
3930 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89119

exterior1 500x335 Burger Bar   7/4/10

When I first tried Burger Bar, it was instantly one of my favorite burger places. Created by Hubert Keller of Top Chef Masters and Fleur de Lys fame, Burger Bar offers a number of “signature” burgers, as well as completely customizable burgers. Their most notable burger is probably the Rossini – a kobe beef patty topped with foie gras and shaved black truffles. However, my favorite has been the lighter surf & turf, topped with lobster.

Surf & Turf Burger – black angus, grilled half lobster, grilled green asparagus on a plain bun

surf turf burger 500x335 Burger Bar   7/4/10

I really like how Burger Bar uses a nice, thick patty on their burgers, allowing for a nice medium rare to be cooked.

burger interior 500x335 Burger Bar   7/4/10

The burger was cooked perfectly with a nicely seared crust and pink throughout. However, the burger wasn’t quite as juicy as I would expect. The lobster also was a little bit drier than I remembered, but the combination still works well.

Other burgers we had were customized:

Angus beef patty topped with portabello mushroom, grilled onions and guacamole and an onion bun

kobe burger 500x335 Burger Bar   7/4/10

Vegetarian burger topped with mozzarella and eggplant.

veggie burger 500x335 Burger Bar   7/4/10

In addition, we ordered some sweet potato fries.

fries 500x335 Burger Bar   7/4/10

These were simple, good. Often I find sweet potato fries are cut a little thicker than french fries, but these were the same size – which was good. Crispy on the outside with a moist, fluffy interior.

I was satisfied with my burger, but I feel the execution has slipped a notch, somewhat reminiscent of the mediocrity of the San Francisco Burger Bar location.

Bartolotta – 7/3/10

Bartolotta
Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

exterior 500x335 Bartolotta   7/3/10

I first sampled Paul Bartolotta’s cuisine at the American Wine & Food Festival a couple of years back, and was really impressed by some of the seafood he prepared. Specializing in Italian preparations of seafood, Bartolotta offers a ton of different fish and shellfish, line-caught wild and shipped almost every day. Most of the fish are available served whole family-style.

It seems everything that the Wynn does is very elegant and grand, and this two-level restaurant is no exception. As you walk down the stairs, the main dining room is in view, as well as cabanas encircling the restaurant’s private pond.

interior1 500x335 Bartolotta   7/3/10

We sat at one of those cabanas, which may have proved to be a mistake, since it was blistering hot outside.

interior2 500x335 Bartolotta   7/3/10

We did not try any of their whole fish preparations, opting to sample more of their dishes a la carte.

risotto ai frutti di mare risotto with clams, scallops, shrimp, lobster, calamari

risotto 500x335 Bartolotta   7/3/10

I love a seafood risotto, so this dish was a must. The risotto was creamy and al dente – just the way it should be. The seafood was plump and juicy, also cooked pretty well. A pretty good rendition of the dish in my opinion.

sauté di vongole sautéed tiny clams with tomato sauce, garlic, white wine, parsley

clams 500x335 Bartolotta   7/3/10

This dish had a surprising amount of clams, as we had been told the appetizers were somewhat small. The clams were perfectly cooked, and the tomato-based sauce was light and flavorful.

Grilled saberfish

sablefish 500x335 Bartolotta   7/3/10

Bartolotta offers a number of fish, “simply grilled” as an appetizer. Here we have saberfish, nicely grilled and juicy. The restaurant consistently served some very fresh and well-cooked fish.

insalata di campo arugula, raddichio, frisee, Belgian endive, red wine vinaigrette


salad 500x335 Bartolotta   7/3/10

The only dish we ordered with vegetables – the salad provided a lighter alternative, but wasn’t anything special.

spaghetti all’ astice spaghetti with rock lobster, spicy tomato sauce, white wine

pasta1 500x335 Bartolotta   7/3/10

Pasta with seafood is something else I really enjoy – spaghetti with rock lobster? Why not? This dish was delicious. The pasta was cooked perfectly with a slightly spicy, light tomato sauce. The lobster was probably cooked a little more than I preferred, however, as they weren’t as plump and juicy as I’d expect. They were still good though. The crushed cherry tomatoes added a bright, fresh flavor to the pasta.

penne con scorfano e melanzane penne with Mediterranean scorpion fish, eggplant, tomato, basil

pasta2 500x335 Bartolotta   7/3/10

Compared to the spaghetti, this dish was a bit of a letdown. The penne was not cooked quite as well (a little overcooked), and the eggplant and firm scorpion fish did not provide the same exciting, vibrant flavors.

pollo alla Riviera Ligure Ligurian style roast chicken, artichokes, asparagus, porcini, taggiasca olives, lemon herb sauce

chicken 500x335 Bartolotta   7/3/10

Bartolotta is a primarily seafood restaurant – make no mistake. But, they do prepare a very nice roasted chicken. The skin, all around, was superbly crisp. The meat was moist and flavorful, and the accompanying greens and herb sauce were a nice complement.

Pescato Del Giorno Con Carciofi E Origano Oven baked imported Mediterranean fish, artichokes, oregano

snapper 500x335 Bartolotta   7/3/10

The fish in this case was a Mediterranean snapper. I love light, white fish, and I loved this dish. The fillet was really moist with a light and delicate flavor. The tomatoes and artichokes provided extra flavor, but were mild enough to not overpower this fish.

torta Ligure al limone, gelato al rosmarino, balsamico dolce Ligurian lemon cake, rosemary gelato, sweet balsamic syrup

dessert 500x335 Bartolotta   7/3/10

A moist and tart lemon cake was topped with a rosemary gelato. I thought the cake was nice, but the rosemary gelato did not stand up too well to it. A bite of every component was largely flavors of the lemon and balsamic.

In all, I was pretty happy with the meal at Bartolotta. It’s a beautiful looking restaurant, and the food stood up to it. Seafood is done very well here, and in a variety of preparations. Some of the highlights were the risotto and lobster pasta,  as well as the chicken and snapper. Next time, I will have to try one of the whole fish.