Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bouchon Bistro (2), Las Vegas Nevada

As I am a very healthy eater approximately 29/30 days each month as part of my lifestyle, I haven’t even experienced the 20 best restaurants in Columbus, my home city. With that in mind, as a rule I generally don’t revisit restaurants, especially when on vacation. How is it that I found myself back at Bouchon only 2 days after my original experience you might ask? Because dollar for dollar it is the best restaurant in Vegas. It’s the same reason I found myself at Bouchon Bakery four times in four days. Call me obsessive if you like, I consider it a pursuit of perfection and as of yet I’ve not found anything in terms of food or service that Thomas Keller does less than perfect.

Arriving for Saturday brunch around 7:50am the night after dinner at Alex one might assume I was both happy and full…and difficult to impress. One would be correct. With those things in mind, the Buckeyes and Gophers game was starting at 9:00am and I was meeting friends at the Palazzo Sports Book so an early trip to Bouchon was ideal. Seated outside I was once again greeted by the same fantastic service I received on trip one and was presented the specials including a phenomenal sounding Lobster gratin, Lorraine quiche, Strawberry croissant, and Cauliflower soup. While the gratin was incredibly tempting the draw of the French toast bread pudding was simply too much this time around and my neighbors had the cinnamon beignets which appeared heavenly. One French toast, one order of beignets, and a coffee please.

Unlike the first time, for this meal I was started off with Keller’s famous epi-baguettes which I first experienced in NYC back in June. Still wonderfully crunchy on the outside and soft and buttery within and served with that sinful sweet butter and raspberry preserves the baguettes were gone by the time my beignets arrived.

The beignets, as expected, were incredible. Having tried the custard and Raspberry filled versions at Bouchon Bakery the day before I opted for the donut-esque versions this time around which were served with a beautiful apricot jam and a pot of warm Nutella. Light, airy, sweet, and still warm/glistening the beignets were much more than a “donut” and when dipped in the Nutella were even better than Ducasse’s famous madelines from two nights prior. Magical. Losing myself in the morning sun, wonderful taste, and bold coffee I slowly indulged until all the jam and nutella was spent.

Plates cleared and table dusted off for posterity, my coffee was refilled and returned along with the French Toast. Smaller than expected, yet delicate in appearance I dug in slowly expecting to be amazed…and amazed I was. While small, the taste was compact and potent with a creamy texture of butter cut by the texture of spiced apple and the fragrance of cinnamon. Syrup was utilized sparingly, yet wonderfully to create a masterpiece without overpowering with sweetness. While not a “true” bread pudding in the sense of the one served at Bouchon Bakery, this is my second favorite bread pudding ever behind only Nancy Olson’s life-altering version at Gramercy Tavern.

Meal finished I paid my bill and thanked my server for the wonderful meal. All things being equal I would have returned for a late brunch around 2pm in order to check out the gratin or chicken and waffles, but after hanging out at the Sportsbook for a few others my buddy made other plans. Oh well, at least I made my fourth and final stop at the Bakery on my way over to the Palazzo for some mid-game snacks.

Two meals in four days, four stops at the Bakery, and a previous visit to the NYC location back in June…certainly not normal for me…then again, there is nothing normal about Bouchon; it is fantastic. With fellowship interviews coming up later this year I fully expect myself to wind up on both coasts for interviews…if schedules work out, a trip to French Laundry, Ad Hoc, and/or Per Se is almost a guarantee. Until then, Thanksgiving will certainly feature the Bouchon Cookbook quite prominently.

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