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.
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.
Allison, Adam and I went with traditional lunch entrées.
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…
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?).
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.