We have run hot and cold about Bouchon over the years. We’ve had stupendous meals here; we’ve had pedestrian ones. Service has been terrific on occasion, sloppy and slow on others. We wanted to kiss all the cooks after one brunch…and felt like strangling them at another — when scrambling eggs seemed to challenge their skill set. A certain “critic” in town (who knows as much about French food as he does about ELV’s bunghole), once complained of being served a cold breakfast of (supposed to be) hot food and, for once, we had to agree with him.
But then there are the oysters. And the bouillabaisse. And the Tomato “Farcie” — stuffed with niçoise olives and goat cheese and roasted to within an inch of its life. Or the Ouefs et Boudin Blanc. Or the Poulet et des Gaufres (chicken and waffles) — so good Roscoe would sit up and take notice.
And don’t even get me started on the baked goods, the Truite Amandine or the brioche French toast — called Brioche Dorée on the menu — that are as good as anything you’ll find on the Left Bank.
And did we mention the oysters…and the clams…and the steamed mussels with frites? No one in town gets better or fresher ones, and no one fries a potato any better. They also do the best quiche in Vegas, and the best leg of lamb — French style, very rare* — and a killer Croque Monsieur (or Madame), napped in a proper Sauce Mornay.
Put it all together with a well-chosen, if expensive, wine list (yes, that half-bottle of Patz & Hall pinot will set you back fifty-five bucks), and you have the one true brasserie all others in town want to be. Sure Bouchon can disappoint. But the food can also make you swoon. Go on a weekend, and all bets are off. Drop by on a weeknight and you’ll think you’re in Paris (France, not Kentucky).
Max Jacobson says: “Chef Thomas Keller has been on Charlie Rose and in every national magazine except Scientific American. Unlike Wolfie, he’s home grown, and unlike Emeril, he’s relatively sublimated….I like to come here for the city’s best breakfast: flaky croissants and the best pastries around are made in the attached bakery. Almost all ingredients are sourced from boutique producers: lamb is from a special purveyor in Pennsylvania, butter is from Vermont, et cetera….Local French chefs come for steak frites, just like they’d get on the Rue Moffetard.”
Favorite dishes: Oysters; Clams; Mussels; Soup à l’Oignon; Quiche du Jour; Rillettes aux Deux Saumons (fresh and smoked salmond spreads); Frisée Salad; Bouillabaisse; Steak Frites; Gigot d’Agneau (roasted leg of lamb); Boudin Blanc (white sausage); Truite Amandine; Croque Madame; Tomato Farcie; Chicken with Waffles; Brioche French Toast; All Breads; All Pastries; Insider tip: the Mini-Bouchons (tiny, dense chocolate brownies) are not on the dessert menu but always available upon request.
* The way the French cook lamb is someone yells “fire!” as it’s leaving the kitchen.