I just finished watching Hangover 2 and, though the movie is now based in Bangkok, I couldn't help but reminisce the last time I hit up Sin City and lived the suite life.
Instead of partying it up and waking up with a nasty hangover, I decided to take the old-lady route and got up early to have one of the best breakfasts I've had in a very, very long time.
Yes, I went to Bouchon Bistro, Chef extraordinaire Thomas Keller's casual counterpart to French Laundry.
French bistro food is my favorite - steak frites, a two-inch high quiche with bacon and onions, a salad with an egg on top finished with a perfect vinaigrette, a croque madame, some oysters and a glass of champagne. These are foods that represent the most important kind of cooking there is because they're rooted in tradition. So when I thought of opening a restaurant that's more casual than The French Laundry, I decided to explore and deepen the culinary heritage that I admire so much. A Bouchon can be, and should be, whatever you need it to be. It's a casual place, a social place, a place where people come to relax talk and to eat. A kind of home. -Thomas Keller
With accolades such as 'America's Best Chef' by Time magazine, 'Best Chef' by the James Beard Foundation, 'Chef of the Year' by the Culinary Institute of America, and the only American-born chef to hold several 3-star marks by the Michelin Guide, it's no question Thomas Keller has the restaurant business down to a T.
Bouchon is a beautiful bistro located at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, and sprouted from the 1998 original which was right down the street from Keller's infamous French Laundry in Napa Valley.
Bouchon was actually conceptualized, albeit jokingly, as a nondescript place to eat after Keller worked his shift at The French Laundry. It's not very casual as he claimed, but it is quite a relaxed easygoing setting, with high-ceilings to bounce the chattering of the diners.
Tiled floors and molded ceiling and wall treatments give a Mediterranean warmth and ease to the area. Much like my other favorite brunch place, Pastis in New York.
So I decided to dine al fresco to have a view of the Palazzo and a whiff of the fresh cool Vegas weather.
The al fresco area was much brighter, and more casual than the indoor section, with woven chairs and whimsical tables amidst topiary and hotel windows.
Love the table details.
My brunch date? Fellow Filipina Maj, a culinary wunderkind who studied in Florence (soul mate!) and was apprenticing with a renowned Vegas Executive Chef for 6 months. I knew she would be the perfect companion to have brunch at Bouchon.
As we browsed the menu, there were very many brunch must-orders that caught our attention.
Leave it up to Maj to rebel and order what wasn't on the menu. Yes, we ordered all three. I picked the perfect dining partner
I remember our server Felipe was quite impressionable and left little to be requested. He memorized our orders without the need to write them down, was very courteous, and had perfect manners which made our meal feel special, even if we were just trying to have some brunch.
Another thoughtful gesture was the butter cover, stamped with the Bouchon ball logo. And the dishes which were all branded. LOVE. Oh, and the butter was definitely fresh as well as the jam.
While not part of our dining experience, we had an impromptu show when a very flexible and dexterous cleaning lady rappelled herself down the windows attempting to clean them. Cirque du Soleil, is that you?
Now on to the dishes.
Quiche du Jour: Florentine
Spinach, Cheese, Eggs. A generous pouring of custard to coat the spinach and baked to perfection; just Browned on the top, and fluffy in the middle. I am not a big quiche fan, but this was delectable, delicate and light all at the same time. I've encountered quite a few mediocre quiches in my lifetime, and this quiche just schooled all the other ones out there.
Omelette Du Jour
Prime Steak, Forest Mushroom, Comte. Served beside breakfast sausage and brioche toasts, it did not look like any normal omelette. It was airy and voluminous, and the perfect shade of sunny yellow.
Once you break into the omelette, the mushroom, steak and cheese filling present itself and makes for a substantial and earthy biteful. The eggs were fluffy... I still can't get over this damn omelette and how a simple egg dish can instantaneously put all other breakfast eggs to shame.
Oeuf au Gratin du Jour
Eggs baked with ham, button mushroom and spinach. Covered with bechamel and cheese. Most au gratin eggs are baked with the yolk broken and mixed with the other ingredients, this was a different preparation.
The entire egg was baked into the bechamel creme mixture alongside the ham, mushrooms and spinach. Egg Yolk = my weakness. Atop a fresh brioche, the egg was creamy, runny and clean-off-the-plate delicious. The brioche made for the perfect yolk sopper. I'm having hunger pangs just imagining this gratin.
Although these potatoes were just sides to the au gratin, Maj and I agreed that these spuds were perfectly cooked, crispy on the edges and tender in the middle all at the same time. French cuisine is a stickler for seasoning and these potatoes are the perfect complement to the creamy eggs.
Did we finish all three dishes? We won't tell.
I knew Maj was the best person to enjoy an indulgent meal in the city of Sin. Yes, we were guilty of gluttony, but well worth the calories and the food coma afterwards. We ended our meal satiated and satisfied. Ready to use all our newly-ingested energy all through the day.
It is an embosser which embosses Bouchon's phone number onto a card stock. I am a gadget freak. Must. Have. It.
If you are a grab and go type of diner, the Bouchon Bakery is just by the lobby of the Venetian, and a convenient way to experience Thomas Keller's culinary charm. I just realized that Roomie and I had grabbed a post-jog brekkie at the Central Park location.
My verdict? MUST EXPERIENCE. And now lusting over a meal at Keller's French Laundry or Per Se, whichever comes my way first.
And experience it in Vegas, especially if you are nursing a hangover. Definitely.
Experience Bouchon Bistro
Learn more about Thomas Keller