Bouchon: Sidestepping Las Vegas Glitz at Bistro with E.A.T.Z.

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Bouchon is a French culinary oasis in The Venetian.

To begin 2005, I co-founded an eating club with three friends: Adam, Krystal and Tamara. At first, it was an excuse for us all to meet and share some exotic dishes, with no pretense. Adam decided our club needed a name and took to calling us E.A.T.S., even though he had no idea what the acronym stood for. Over drinks after an African meal one night, we thought it’d be fun to assign meaning to E.A.T.S. As our suggestions became increasingly pornographic, and we weren’t even past A, it was clear it was wrong to continue. Four months later, at a boba-less boba bar, in a stroke of genius, Krystal changed the S to a Z and solved the acronym. From that point on, E.A.T.Z. would stand for “Eating A to Z.” Adam wished it was raunchier, but three of us were happy, and the acronym stuck.

To end August, we took E.A.T.Z. on the road for the first time, to Las Vegas. We had two special guests: Krystal’s new boyfriend Alon, and Tamara’s friend from work, Allison. This is an account of our first road trip meal at Bouchon, uber-chef Thomas Keller’s casual bistro in The Venetian.

Most restaurants in Vegas reside in high-end casino retail corridors or gaming table-adjacent nooks. Bouchon is the rare restaurant that’s set apart from gaming action. The third floor of the hotel’s new Venezia Tower houses Bouchon, named for a particular style of Lyonnaise bistro. Designed by Adam D. Tihany, the left side of the restaurant features a gorgeous pewter bar, intricate tile floors, dark wood stools with mustard colored cushions and several small tables, separated from the dining room by a glass partition. The dining room is heavy on gold and dark wood. The top of the canary yellow walls are lined with French artist Paulin Paris’ hand-painted figures with accompanying French words: horseshoe, gavel, binoculars, revolver (Huh?), corkscrew, anchor, key, and more. How they’re related, and what they have to do with Lyonnaise bistros, I have no idea, but they’re certainly amusing.

Oysters Las Vegas

A silver oyster bar near the entrance displays five kinds of oysters with lobster partitions: Dabob Bay (Washington), Malaspina (B.C.), Bagaoure River (Maine), Samish Bay (Washington), and Sun Hollow (Washington). There’s even an outdoor patio, but with the temperature registering triple digits, we passed on that option.

Bread Las Vegas

Our waiter laid a pile of warm epis on the table with a dish of whipped butter. An epi is a baguette in the shape of a chaff of wheat, and each one was epic.

The menu at lunch is very simple. Simple doesn’t preclude deliciousness. Executive Chef Jeffrey Cerciello brought the same level of excellence from his previous stint as head chef at the Yountville original. Our group managed to order a good percentage of the available dishes. There were three dishes “du jour,” and we ordered every one. Soupe du jour was Sweet corn with chive mousse ($8). It was incredible, sweet, not too creamy, with a chive jolt in the center in the bowl.

Alon ordered Quiche du Jour ($13.50). Fiorentina had swathes of spinach suspended in silky custard.

French Food Las Vegas

Krystal’s Omelette du Jour ($13.95) featured smoked salmon, scallions and cream cheese. The eggs were extra fluffy, came with two juicy links of pork sausage and three pieces of brioche toast, served in skillet-like dish.

French Food Las Vegas

Though it wasn’t a dish du jour, Tamara’s “Oeuf and boudin blanc” ($19.95) was still sensational, a huge link of velvety veal sausage with scrambled eggs and more wonderful brioche toast.

Allison, Adam and I went with traditional lunch entrées.

French Food Las Vegas

My “Truite aux Amandes ($24), pan-roasted trout with almonds, brown butter & haricots verts, was outstanding. The delicate fish was boned and filleted. Only the fish head remained. Shaved almonds and snap-fresh string beans worked well with the juicy, lightly sugared fish.

French Food Las Vegas

Adam’s “Moules au Safran et à la Moutarde” ($24.50) featured a sleek iron pot full of Maine bouchot mussels steamed in white wine, mustard & saffron, served with a huge cone of crispy, virtually greaseless frites. A mini chain-link fence allowed for easy frite dipping.

Allison’s Poulet Rôti ($21) featured a juicy half-chicken with bronzed skin and more delicious frites.

We ordered two sides a la carte for the table: Épinard ($5.50), sensational sautéed spinach with butter-soft garlic bulbs…

French Food Las Vegas

Macaroni au Gratin ($5.50) was incredible, starring small macaroni with creamy white Comte cheese, Mornay sauce, and nutmeg.

Dessert was equally eventful, though two of us sadly skipped dessert, depriving the rest of us of additional tastes (Tamara and Allison, how could you?).

Sorbet Las Vegas

Alon went with two scoops of guava sorbet ($5.50), which brought the guava thunder.

Dessert Las Vegas

Adam ordered profiteroles ($8.50), biscuit-like pastries that sandwiched vanilla ice cream. The waiter drizzled the ‘roles with Valrhona chocolate sauce from a pitcher.

Dessert Las Vegas

Krystal ordered “Mousse au Chocolat Noir” ($7.50), a small pot of fluffy dark chocolate mousse.

Dessert Las Vegas

Our waiter tipped us off to one off-the-menu dessert option, a trio of Bouchons ($9.50). There was no way I wasn’t going to order the bistro’s namesake dish. It turned out to be three Valrhona chocolate “corks” with Valrhona chocolate sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The corks were brownie-like, crispy outside, near-molten inside.

Embossing Machine Las Vegas

As we left the restaurant, thrilled with our experience, we encountered a do-it-yourself business card station. There was a silver embosser with a stack of mustard-colored card stock. The embosser stamped the restaurant’s name and telephone number onto the card with a thwunk.

We exited the restaurant, returning to Vegas’ neon-soaked heat. Our first out-of-town E.A.T.Z. meal couldn’t have gone better.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

[…] designer Adam D. Tihany, who created Celebrity Solstice’s Grand Epernay main restaurant …Food GPS Bouchon – Las Vegas, NV – August 27, 2005To begin 2005, I co-founded an eating club with three friends: Adam, Krystal and Tamara. … […]

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