Ok, now everyone will think me crazy but let me explain before I review the 4, count them 4, meals at Bouchon last week.
We had reservations for the evening we arrived. Plus, we knew we'd be having breakfast there at least once as we'd been there in the morning before and were totally blown away by it.
The other 2 meals (another dinner and breakfast) occurred because a) we got bored with the concierge breakfasts at the Venetian (which we knew we would) and b) my husband hadn't been feeling well a couple of nights while there and our last night, we wanted to stay as close to our Venezia suite as possible and; since we'd already had one incredible meal there and were told we didn't need a reservation for late dining we figured, why not?
And so on!
I'd been highly looking forward to dinner here since the last time we visited and we didn't get a chance to fit it in. I'll begin by saying that this first dinner may have been the best meal we'd ever had in LV thus far, and we certainly have had several great ones already.
We arrived and were seated promptly, I into the banquet seat, he into a regular chair, which was at the corner of the banquet area. We were serviced this evening by two very knowledgeable waitstaff, who were very professional and proficient in every way. They were able to fully explain menu items, offer suggestions for wine, and knew when to give attention and when to stay away.
We both ordered glasses of Pinot Noir that may have been the best I personally have ever had, since I usually stick with red zinfandels for the most part. It was Hein Family Vineyard/Copain Wines 2002. It seemed a good choice to go with both of our dishes and did not disappoint.
Of course, amazingly fresh french bread was brought to the table, along with a small dish of warm pistachio nuts. Already we were in awe. Anyone that has enough sense to serve us bowl of nuts as a nibble first is our new best friend LOL.
We both begain with the daily special soup - a creamy roasted garlic, served with a toast point and tapanade to swirl into the soup. This was served sort of lukewarm, but I think this may have been on purpose. We both agreed that if it had been piping hot, you would have perhaps lost the nuances of the garlic and olive paste. We both thought this soup was fantastic.
My husband ordered the daily special which was a breast of veal. Now, we had NO idea exactly what this was going to be - neither of us have encountered this before. The waiter explained to us that what they do is take the veal breast, braise it for many hours until it is pretty much falling apart. It is then cooled and reassembled more or less into a cutlet shape, than breaded with panko crumbs and pan fried. This sounded very intriguing and hardy and turned out to be something that we wish we could figure out how to cook at home. It was so juicy, succulent, moist, tender and yet had that crackly finish from the panko on top. Amazing dish. If I remember correctly, it was served with potatoes and roasted veggies.
I ordered the grilled monkfish special over lentils with a fried marrow "tator tot" (for lack of a better way to describe what it was) on top. Another winner. The fish was perfectly cooked, the lentils were those really tiny ones and were wonderfully flavored. The marrow "tot" was to die for, if you enjoy that sort of thing. As I already noted, the Pinot Noir did justice to both of these dishes.
Dessert was a tough choice. I opted for the cheese tasting. 3 pieces, one a goat, one a cow and one sheep - I couldn't tell you what any were other than a morbier, since all had very french names and they just didn't stick in my head. However, the waiter and I had a discussion about cheeses in general, and he evidently saw that I did have some understanding about types, flavors, textures, etc. and brought me over 1 more piece (another goat) gratis. This plate came with 1/2 a Gala apple stuffed with honeycomb (yum!) and a small plate of fruit/nut breads.
My husband went simple and had a butter pecan ice cream. But of course, this was the best butter pecan we'd both ever tasted and I'm now going to have to find a good recipe to make this at home. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy that flavor.
During this, they brought out a small dish of their homemade tiny cookies (1 peanut butter, 1 chocolate chip), a passionfruit gelee, 2 fruit macaroons (orange and lemon I believe) and a piece of dark Valrona chocolate. We were way to stuffed to manage this and asked them to pack it up. The check was brought over and so was a bag of carmelized peanuts and popcorn! Crackerjacks for adults! This too, got saved for another day (and by the way, put Crackerjacks to shame but we did miss getting a prize LOL).
Here was the small misstep of service however. My husband went to pay the bill and I asked him how much it came out to out of curousity. He says "$205". I'm like, that can't be, that's wrong, it's too much. I take a look and sure enough, they had put another tables martini orders on our bill! An extra $60! Good thing I looked, because hubby would have just paid it and not realized. We called over one of the waiters and he was terribly sorry about it and seemed genuninely embarrassed for the mistake and promptly had the bill reworked.
All in all, the bill was $150ish, 2 glasses of wine, 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 2 desserts and lots of goodies to take back to the room with us. The next day we noticed one more small problem - they forgot to put the Valrona chocolate into the take away dish! Quel horror! LOL!
Ok, so the next morning we went down for breakfast and it was as good as we rememembered. We just love sitting in there early in the morning, looking out at the pool area. French bread was brought with really great raspberry jam to nosh on while waiting for our orders to come out. I ordered one of the specials, eggs and corned beef hash. Not something I'd normally do but I couldn't resist. Well obviously this was no Dinty Moore out of a can. The corned beef has was real corned beef minced up, with even smaller minced pieces of potato and onions, melding together into one mushy delicious mouthful of happiness. The eggs (scrambled) are the best in the world. I've asked for the recipe before, but they are not telling any secrets. Very good latte too. My husband had waffles with vanilla butter and bananas and a side of their artisinal Hobbs bacon. Just perfect. Breakfast was about $50ish, with tip and tax. Pricey, yes but as we later found out, the Grand Luxe downstairs wasn't much cheaper and we found ourselves wishing we'd just gone for a 3rd breakfast at Bouchon that morning.
We had breakfast there, again, Sunday morning. This time I had a spinach, fontina, and steak omelet. Again, something I normally wouldn't ever think of having but hey, you're on vacation, right? Omelet was perfect in every way - I couldn't finish it if I'd tried. Hubbie had scrambled eggs/bacon, etc. Great again. Latte and coffee, a small carafe of fresh OJ too. Again, breakfast about $50ish when all was said and done.
Monday evening, we had gone to see Blue Man Group. We were leaving the next afternoon and had not made reservations in advance for any place because as I mentioned the prior two evenings he wasn't feeling well.
One of those nights we had to cancel our Daniel Boulud Brasserie reservation and just called in-suite dining, another we ate at Delmonico because it was our annivesary and he was trying very hard to please me but really, shouldn't have.
That meal was very good but alas, he was so out of sorts that the whole experience just wasn't worth having. Great filet mignon as always, I had a shrimp scampi w/fresh fettucine which was nice but not remarkable. No appetizers, (although we were givene amuse bouches, and since my husband didn't want his, the two made a nice appetizer for me). Only I had dessert, although he tried it, a good butterscotch creme brulee. Dinner was only $100, who would think in Delmonico you could get out that "cheap".
I do have to add that we were a bit disappointed that Delmonico has changed their menu and has deleted several items in favor for others. I was dying for rack of lamb, which I knew was on the menu but apparently it's been removed because not enough people ordered it regularly. They only put it on as a special now and then.
Anyway, sorry for digressing. This was how we went to Bouchon again the last night. We arrived around 9:30, were warmly greeted, seated immediately (and even remembered at that point). Waiter came over, asked if we'd ever been there before. We said yes, and mentoned how many times and that for this trip it has become our restaurant of choice. We given menus and were asked if we wanted drinks, we said not this evening and then...he disappeared for 15 minutes! No less, he'd never mentioned the specials and the board was too far from where we were seated to read.
I was fuming over this. I told my husband if he dares come over there and ask if we are ready to order without having told us the specials I'm going to crack. Sure enough, he does. Plus he apologizes for the "short" delay. Short???
I looked him square in the eye and said (probably more snooty than I intended - no wait, let's be honest, I meant to be MORE snooty) "now how can we make a decision without knowing the specials?" Well, he then says there are none! I'm like, I can see there are things written on the boards, I just can't read them. Oh, says he, we ran out of this and blah blah blah, and blah blah blah, on and on. I just didn't want to hear it. I was just exasperated and tired.
Anyway, enough of my ranting for the moment. We both ordered salads. Me, a goat cheese and mixed greens with herb dressing, him a bibb lettuce with another type of herb dressing. We were way impressed with that Bibb salad. It was like they'd taken it apart, washed it up and reassembled it to look exactly like they'd never taken it apart! Really kind of remarkable feat of construction. Both salads were very good fresh lettuces as you would expect and the goat cheese on mine was warmed up just enough to make it spreadable. Very enjoyable.
I had the steak frite and he had a roasted vegetable gnocchi. The steak was great, very tender and perfect french fries. Way too much food on the plate. The gnocci were totally not like those fat little Italian gnocchis, these were smaller, thinner and nicely browned from being in the pan with the veggies. We both really liked this dish a lot.
Inbetween all of this, the manager on duty that evening noticed that we seemed annoyed/unhappy. He personally came over to apolgize about the waiter and to take our dessert orders and make suggestions for a dessert wine that would go with our choice. We split a mousse au chocolate noir. I had a glass of Four Vines port style Zinfandel with it. I've never had this type of dessert wine - I MUST find this. It was like drinking a glass of raspberry jam and went perfectly with the dark chocolate flavors. Outstanding. My husband had a glass of a tawny port - I do not recall the brand but it was quite good too.
No treats were given this evening. I wonder if they only do this on the weekends? Service was obviously an issue - and I wonder if they have their best waitstaff on weekends and save the boobs for the weekdays? This was the only bad service we experienced, however, as both breakfasts had great service.
So, all in all, 4 meals, all of the food was great and 3/4 of the service was wonderful too. I can excuse one lousy waiter :-)