Bouchon, Las Vegas

BouchonI have a sense that Thomas Keller, one of America’s best chefs and a man with impeccable style and taste, doesn’t really do the Vegas thing. Bouchon, his Las Vegas outpost, feels positively out of time and place in this very modern, very garish city. By hiding it in a little-travelled corner of the sprawling Venetian Casino Resort, he’s successfully made it feel private, out-of-the-way and oddly genuine in a city full of fibreglass souks serving sushi. (It really is out-of-the-way, in a corner of the Venezia tower; from the car park you will need to take two separate elevators, and if you’re approaching from the casino you will have to swallow your pride and ask for directions, because it’s near-impossible to locate otherwise.)

Bouchon is a glorious Palladian room housing a Lyonnaise bistro (or ‘bouchon’), all marble-topped tables, encaustic tiles, sweeping arched windows, a pewter bar and pristine white-aproned serving staff. The restaurant has won a number of awards, many for its breakfast, and made Anthony Bourdain spit with rage over the French fries (of all things), which he admitted were better than the ones he serves at Les Halles. It serves what is, for my money, absolutely the best breakfast you will find in the city – we made a point of walking the two and a half miles from Mandalay Bay each time we went in order to burn as many morning calories as possible before arriving.

Bread and jamBreakfast diners are given complimentary butter, jam and an epi of freshly baked bread. Bouchon’s bakery has a giant reputation, and you’re well advised to sample the pastries on offer at the top of the menu alongside the excellent bread. Pains au chocolat are a beautiful example – hundreds of impossibly fine layers of flaky croissant dough, beautifully crisp outside and meltingly tender within, coiled around a stick of bitter chocolate – just begging to be dipped in your coffee. Even that coffee is something special; Chef Keller has selected the blend of four beans from all over the world, and it’s a beautiful, dark, chocolatey roast, fantastic with those pastries.

Cheese danishWe used to live in Paris before we got married, and I haunted patisseries like Angelina, Laduree and Hédiard. I am utterly alarmed to find better pastries than were available in any of the famous Paris names in a place like Las Vegas. My favourite pastry was probably this cheese Danish – a cloud of sweetened cream cheese on the lightest, flakiest, melting-est Danish base I’ve ever encountered.

Breakfast entrées include Dr W’s favourite, the Bouchon French Toast. This is prepared bread pudding style – a tower of hot, custardy brioche, studded with jewels of cooked apple, drizzled with maple syrup and garnished with thin, thin slices of raw apple. If held at gunpoint, I couldn’t choose between the amazingly light and flavourful boudin blanc with beurre noisette and scrambled egg (the only quibble I had over a few meals at Bouchon – these eggs weren’t among the best I’ve eaten, being rather dry and hard) and the croque madame, which oozes glorious bechamel and Gruyère. That croque madame comes with the pommes frites which made Tony Bourdain enter a deep depression, and they’re very good indeed. They’re dry, crisp, fluffy inside, and hard to stop eating. But for French fry perfection in Las Vegas I recommend that you visit Stripsteak, a Michael Mina restaurant at Mandalay Bay, where the trio of duck fat fries (always served as an amuse bouche, and also available as a side dish) – one pot with paprika dusting and a barbecue sauce, one with truffles and a truffle aïoli, and one with herbs and a home-made ketchup – are far and away the best I’ve ever eaten.

Bouchon always offers a few daily specials on the blackboard. Peekytoe crab hash with onion confit, a poached egg and hollandaise was, according to the lady at the next table, ‘Perfect. Gorgeous.’ Dr W’s tomato, bacon and spinach omelette with sharp cheddar was a simple preparation presented brilliantly. And Keller’s quiches are justifiably famous – tender, moist and delicious, with a brittle, short crust.

Service here was charming and unobtrusive. On each visit, our waiters were very happy to answer questions (even rather technical ones about the sourcing of ingredients), and refilled coffee and water unobtrusively.

As you’ve probably gathered by looking at the number of dishes mentioned above, we didn’t feel much like eating breakfast anywhere else once we’d eaten our first Bouchon meal. Somehow, we didn’t manage to make it to the restaurant for an evening meal – I’m leaving supper at Bouchon as a treat for our next visit to Vegas, which is probably my favourite city for eating in the world.

9 Replies to “Bouchon, Las Vegas”

  1. That sounds amazing! It’s definitely on my list of restaurants to try. Do you know somewhere in Las Vegas that does good sushi?


  2. Hi Sarah! I like Shibuya at MGM Grand and Okada at the Wynn. Both are quite pricey, but very good. I’ve also heard very good things about Sushi Roku at the Forum Shops, but haven’t had a chance to try it yet.

  3. So, that sounds soooooo good. I went there with my sisters and we walked all over the hotel looking for a nice place for lunch. We ended up sharing a huge appetizer platter that was very nice. I don’t remember the name of the place. Bouchon would have been much better. For breakfast my two top choices are Bellagio’s Palio by the swimming pools and the Paris Buffet. Yum! I like the Bellagio’s buffet for lunch or dinner but I always over eat!

  4. Ok, I’ll get out my google blogger name and fess up…I wrote the above bit about my sister’s trip to Vegas. I live in Texas and I love to go to Vegas. One of my sisters lives near Vegas so we meet there and eat our way through the Bellagio,Caesars,Paris,Venetian and a new find: the Springs Reserve Wolfgang Puck cafe. I’d only go there if you have a car. It’s a nice place to have a great lunch, look through the museum and maybe buy some gifts for children in the gift shop.

    But back to Vegas and the Venetian. My sisters and I had the huge appetizer platter at the Grand Lux Cafe and had mimosas. It was Grand.
    Thanks for your blog. I really enjoy your point of view and your recipes. Keep it up! I’m depending on you. Sue

  5. Hi Liz

    Wonderful review.

    I was at Bouchon in dec 2008, and would agree with your review! Have done a little review and linked it to yours if you don’t mind.

  6. Not at all, Nuanda – thanks for the link! I was back at Bouchon myself in February, and I’m happy to report that it’s still just as wonderful. Back to Vegas in September for our wedding anniversary, when I hope to eat my own weight in pastries again.

  7. And Anon – I totally agree about the Bellagio buffet. I could essentially eat breakfast there until going pop, Mr Creosote-style – where else do you get excellent congee and house-smoked salmon with all the trimmings?

    Happy news for those of you who pay attention to the various Vegas reviews here – we’re headed back in Sept 2009. Watch this space.

  8. Hi Liz
    Off to Vegas with my foodie family to get married on christmas day. Can't seem to find anywhere for lunch – any reccommendations gratefully received!

  9. Congratulations!

    This may sound a bit out of left-field, but one of the best Christmas lunches I've had in years was at Jasmine, the Chinese restaurant at Bellagio. They don't normally open for lunch, but on Christmas day they usually (ring to check!) operate a dim sum buffet. I know, I know; a dim sum buffet for a special occasion sounds like hell on wheels. It's actually absolutely cracking – really top-class dim sum full of abalone, lobster and other really luxe-y ingredients, very high-quality non-dim-sum Chinese foods, along with a fantastic seafood bar, roast meats Chinese style and some non-Asian things like beef Wellington, perfectly crisp on the outside and pink in the middle, for those who don't want to concentrate on the Chinese food or seafood. There was also a suckling pig on the Christmas we were there.

    The room itself is an absolute joy – very high ceilings, a wonderful view of the fountains, flowers and gorgeous oriental wallpapers covered with flowers and butterflies. I also recommend the house cocktail!

    How big's your party, and what's your budget like? If you want to drop me an email at, I should be able to come up with a few more suggestions. (I had to do a lot of "research" – read this as "I had to exercise a lot of unrestrained greed" – on Vegas eating last year for the National Geographic book I contributed to that's just come out, so I'm in a pretty good position to help out on this one!)

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