[Pigging by Wilfrid: April 5, 2017]
I've eaten mediocre French bistro food in cities all over the United States. If I want over-salted duck and bread dumped on the table without a smile, I can get that on the Lower East Side.
And the problem with Bouchon is that it really announces itself. And really jacks up the prices.
It's on an upper floor of the Venetian, and you tramp through smoky casino floors, and then down fabulously silly mock-Renaissance corridors, to arrive at the solemn door-plate. "A French Bistro"--which interestingly implies The French Bistro.
Actually, it's more like any-old, "Will this do?" French bistro. It's busy, noisy (high ceilings), and you're just sitting there reading the specials, and wondering what they did to a lamb shank to make it worth fifty bucks, when slam!
There's a loaf of bread dropped on the table by a speeding bus boy, with an unexplained dish of cashews. And some butter. Just dropped.
A cocktail arrives, and it's recognizably a Negroni, but it's a small one and rather warm. Looking at the wine list, however, I have to admit that the mark-ups (consistently 200%, where I had knowledge) are less of a gouge than Manhattan.
But the food prices? Mains range from just under $20 (for chicken or mussels) to almost $60 for a grilled ribeye. A portion of duck confit was unexpectedly offered as an appetizer. And $17 might have been tolerable, had it been a little more edible.
The duck leg was crisp, but ragingly salty, served over barley itself lapped by a salty reduction. One might have been offered a spoon for the puddle of sauce, but one really didn't want it. This would be a poor dish in an unpretentious, cheap bistro.
I wasn't in the best mood when the boudin showed up. This was another dish which came in just below $30, and there was certainly plenty of it. The puréed potatoes were good. The caramelized apple was a nice idea, but the large slabs were inelegant.
As I anticipated--and so can't complain--the boudin noir had the mushy, near-liquid filling which seems popular in the United States. All over Europe, and especially in the UK, it's more likely to be a firm, peppery sausage. But this is what you get.
I saw no reason to risk dessert. This is the kind of place you'd regret going to if it had no famous chef, no over-priced specials, and was in the neighborhood. None of which (unless you live at The Venetian) are the case.
Note: A fair point is made by a Las Vegas resident who knows about these things, that in eating at the hotels and on the Strip, I am not getting the best of the city--and certainly not the best value. So it seems fair to point out that this was a business trip and I was tethered to a convention center in one of the big hotels throughout my short stay.