Bouchon @ The Venetian

Since this was my first time in Las Vegas, I have to do all the tourist things in Vegas. Sadly, I can only take the tours on the open top buses as that’s all the time I have. Two and half days of personal time in Vegas is definitely not enough. Next time if I visit Vegas again, I definitely want to pay a visit to the Grand Canyon and the Hoover dam. However, the fact that I’ve seen most of the strip and had been through the Freemount experience, that’s a pretty good accomplishment for a first timer in Vegas.

On the day tours, one of the tour guides was telling us about three restaurants in Las Vegas that made it to the Forbes top 100 restaurants in the United States. One of of them is the TAO in the hotel I am staying at. So being a sucker for food and the fact that I initially thought it is nothing more than a topless night club with his words changing my preception, I’ve decided to see if I can book a table at the TAO. It was an unsuccessful attempt as the earliest table the hostess can offer me is around 10:15 pm, at which time I would prefer to be near my bed instead. So I have to look for an alternative for a final dinner before heading back to Toronto.

When I was considering the options available, I realized my feet are actually starting to feel the strain I’ve put on them in the past week. Based on my phone’s health app, I have walked an average of thirty thousand steps each day since I arrived in Las Vegas. This compared to my usual daily average of ten thousand steps, my feet are definitely not accustomed to the sudden increases I am asking it to do. So I’ve decided to look for something close by instead of going for things like a buffet at the Flamingo or others. In comes a little restaurant I’ve walked by everyday for a week, located at the end of the bridge connecting the Venezia Tower with the main Venetian tower, the Bouchon at the Venetian. This place is related to the Bouchon Bakery available in the canal shoppes near the entrance from Treasure Island bridge. For non hotel guest, you will most likely be stopped twice by security guards before you can get to the Bouchon as it is at the heart of the hotel, surrounded by hotel rooms and no direct access to the outside. The only sunlight the Bouchon can see is from the windows and patio doors connecting it to the Venezia pool. The menu is written in a mixture of both French and English. Being Canadian, I can read French and have limited conversational French. So I was naturally drawn to this place after reading a portion of the menu as it feels just like home. Except obviously, we’ll have a full menu in English and a full Menu in French as oppose to a menu of mixed languages.

This is the Bouchon as you enter. As you can see in the picture above,  the Bouchon seems to indicate its freshness on seafood by its bed of ice. This picture was taken as I was exiting and therefore they are in the process of closing for the day. During normal business hours, that bed of ice is piled with fresh seafood such as oysters and clams.

The decor of the place is pretty classic, it doesn’t strike me as French per se but more like a typical fancy restaurant. To be more accurate, it fits right in with the rest of the Venetian and provides a very harmonized environment for diners. It is just that as I was a bit exhausted from all the tourist things I have been doing for the past two days and the fact that the Venetian have an amazing interior decor that the Bouchon’s interior design didn’t stood out for me.

A little candle on my table, it is lit the moment I was seated by the hostess. It is a social place where many people dine with friends and family, I wouldn’t say it has a romantic atmosphere but definitely quieter from the other locations available around the block. I wish I had a date while dining here, at the very least I wouldn’t have to reconsider how lonesome it is to eat alone.

At the time of order, considering the bed of ice and the name of the place, I’ve opt for the seafood plate. In hopes that I may once again be eating the Belon oysters which I tried back in Toronto weeks prior. When I inquire about the size of the seafood plate, the waitress indicates that the petit plateau would be an ideal entree for one. So it became a no brainer, however, I did request to keep the menu just in case it wasn’t enough.

Once the order is placed, she brought forth some rolls and pistachios. The rolls are warm to the touch and from what I gather, it is from the same location where the Bouchon Bakery down in the canal shoppes are supplied. Two bird with one stone I guess, at least I wouldn’t have to line up to try some bread from the bakery :). I had a few of the pistachios, they were also warmed up. At this point, I had an idea and therefore kept them, if the Bouchon offers what I desired. 🙂

She than proceeded to set my table up. To be honest, this is the first time I’ve seen this kind of table settings. It is a bit different than the type I am used to. The typical placement of the seafood fork is the right of the diner fork. However, sometimes the fork is placed in the bowl. This is the first time I have encounter this type of table setup and was a bit surprised by it. On a different note, I have been wondering a very simple question of where on earth is my butter knife?

After a bit of a wait, the seafood plate is finally in front of me. This is nearly close to what I was expecting, minus the oysters. The lobster was delicious, flavored, cooked to perfection, and the claw meat was de-shelled prior to serving. The shrimp, according to the lad who brought this plate over, is a ten to twelve head per pound shrimp. Sadly, my comment on these two is that they weren’t just cooked, they were overcooked to the point where I am classifying them as slaughtered. I actually felt bad for the shrimp as it doesn’t do them justice being so over prepared, the cocktail shrimp I had just a few nights ago was SO MUCH BETTER and it was prepared by the Sands Expo crew. The mussels were so rubbery that I have to enroll the services of the sauces. However, the biggest disappointment are the clams and oysters. It wasn’t that they weren’t good, actually they were amazing! It was the mere fact that I flew all the way to Vegas, hoping that a french restaurant would give me something ‘french’. Instead, they present to me the Oysters from one of the world’s famous oyster beds, those harvested from Prince Edward Island, Canada. Yay! A Canadian flew all the way to the states to eat Canadian food, what’s next? Poutine or beaver tail? Now don’t get me wrong, it is actually extremely fresh oysters and I would highly recommend it. Just that I was hoping for at least one or two authentic French oysters such as the Belon or, since it is Vegas, the Pied de Cheval. Worst case scenario would be a repeat of the oysters I had a few nights ago, prepared by the crew at the Sands Expo, those were GREAT! Well, fresh oysters are still fresh oysters and one cannot complain about fresh oysters.

Once I was done, I requested for the dessert menu. After reviewing, I’ve decided to order their ice-cream. Initially, i was planning to place two orders, assuming it to be one scoop per order. The waitress informs me that there are in fact two scoops to every order and they have some very interesting flavors at the Bouchon, so one order it shall be. By the way, this is the exact reason why I kept the pistachios. I had previously considered the dessert and therefore was hoping that the main course wouldn’t be humongous. When I saw that they have pistachios as a side starter, I was glad that the seafood plate weren’t super filling to the point where I have to alter my initial intention of dessert, yes I have a sweet tooth.

The staff cleared my table minus the pistachios at my request and brought out a very interesting ice-cream spoon.

And here is the ice-cream. Actually, it is peach sorbet, which I haven’t had in years, on top of a scoop of cheese cake ice-cream. Yeah! Cheesecake ice-cream! When I heard that they have cheesecake as a flavor, I basically wanted it already. Two cookies came with the ice-cream, naturally I assumed it is from the Bouchon bakery also. I started eating the ice-cream tasting it slowly. After a tasting the flavors and confirmed that the cheesecake ice-cream does indeed tasted like cheesecake while the peach sorbet does in fact tastes like peach, I started mixing them up. Eventually, I started adding in pistachios at every other spoon. The salt in the pistachios would enhance the enjoyment of the sweetness in the sorbet and the ice-cream.

To be honest, taking into the consideration of the overcooked seafood, I would still recommend the Bouchon. The atmosphere is family friendly and the prices aren’t too expensive for the Las Vegas Strip’s better dinning experiences. The best part is, the Bouchon is directly within the Venezia Towers, this means you don’t have to deal with the constant flood of people walking in from the outside or the heat they bring along with them.

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