db’s knees – Martin Miller’s Gin, Lemon Juice, Local Desert Honey
Pork, Chicken, Mustard, Cornichons, Country Bread / Foie Gras, Smoked Duck, Rillettes, Rhubarb, Turnips, Pistachio, Frisee
Parmesan Focaccia, Baguette, Butter
Escargots Spatzle – Burgundy Snails, Chicken Oysters, Mushrooms, Garlic Parsley Coulis, Hazelnuts
Sea Scallops – Sweet Corn, Trumpet Mushrooms, Jalapeno, Confit Tomato, Basil
Tunisian Spiced Lamb – Roasted Chop, Merguez Sausage, Couscous, Lemon Braised Spinach, Chickpeas, Red Pepper Tagine
Crispy Duck Confit – Swiss Chard, Turnip, Trumpet Royale Mushrooms, Onion Rings
Pierre Robert Triple Crème, Humbolt Fog, Petit Basque, Penn Noble, Forme d’Ambert with Quince Preserves, Nuts and Cranberry Bread
Black and White Fondant – Molten Chocolate Cake, Verbena Ice Cream
Raspberry Clafoutis – Rhubarb gelée, ginger yogurt sorbet
Gateau Basque – Custard Cake, Brandied Cherries, Vanilla Anglaise
Le President – Chocolate-Hazelnut Mousse Tart, Coffee Chantilly
Freshly Baked Madeleines
Having visited every Daniel Boulud property in New York City, from the eponymous 3* dining room and its original 1* Café home to breakfast and brunch at Bistro Moderne and Sud, respectively, it was with great delight that I learned of the chef’s return to Sin City – a new Brasserie helmed by former Marche Bacchus chef David Middleton scheduled for dinner with two friends, a tasting menu presumably pre-arranged by private dining manager Heidi Voskuil. Every bit the bustling space suggested by its name, with close set tables and traditional heavy woods beneath the sexy glow of globed lighting, it was just after 6:30pm on Saturday when our party was seated and starting off with a stunning riff on the Bee’s Knees our menu was confirmed…at least conceptually…though much of what followed was not exactly what was requested and much of it was marred by still-green service. Setting aside small mistakes on sourcing and pronunciation as well as beverages spilled more than once plus an obvious miscommunication from front of house to back about the menu requested it was with a duo of Boulud’s superlative terrines that we began and with the foie gras smooth as silk while the chicken and pork pate upped the ante with an earthy funk one can only hope for this program to expands; a “Bar Boulud” charcuterie program like that in Manhattan’s theater district seemingly a perfect choice on The Strip. Moving next to outsourced bread and salty butter before progressing into the one-two punch of garlicky snails followed by the best scallops I’ve had in recent memory as the restaurant filled to perhaps 80% capacity it was in our fourth course that things got interesting; the lightly seared lamb and its spicy sausage tender and delicious but served as our “main course” when my request had clearly delineated the duck as a ‘must.’ Eventually served the confit after much hemming-and-hawing including the involvement of the Dining Room Manager suffice it to say that the crispy-skinned fowl is absolutely worth visiting (and perhaps fighting) for and finishing the evening with a glut of sweets plus a quintet of award-winning cheeses one can only hope the service will soon keep up with the kitchen…not only does Chef Middleton’s cuisine warrant it, but so does the textbook Gateau Basque.
THREE STARS: Well priced by Strip standards but still finding its footing as it relates to service db Brasserie presents as a relaxed challenger to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon just a few stories above and with David Middleton helming a kitchen already executing at a very high level it will be interesting to see how this iteration of Boulud’s vision evolves over time, the menu currently a veritable ‘greatest hits’ collection of concepts featured throughout his New York locales.
RECOMMENDED: Pates and Terrines, Game Meats, Desserts.
AVOID: Madelines were over-baked and spatzle was over-boiled, breads are outsourced (though our server neglected to tell us by whom despite two inquiries.)
TIP: At least for now the tasting menu option does not offer any cost savings to parties greater than two. At $95 per person for five courses our party could have ordered 1-2 more items and shared family-style at less cost. A better option, at least for those willing to live within its constraints, would be the three-course prix-fixe offered for $38 at lunch and $48 at dinner.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor