Food and Food: Las Vegas and Travels29 Dec 2008 09:15 am

Often, the only thing that gets me going after a late Las Vegas night is the promise of being able to avoid long lines at bistros serving breakfast. I have yet to take in a breakfast buffet (and probably never will), but the line-ups at the Las Vegas outpost of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon strike fear in my empty stomach. I will do anything to avoid a wait, even if it means waking before 9 a.m. Yikes!

Others may feel that greasy IHOP hash browns help sop up the liquor from the previous night’s debauchery. I, however, subscribe to the belief that airy croissants and strong lattes get me through the pain.

This trip involved two visits to Bouchon‘s dining room, one to the bakery and yet another visit to Lenôtre in the Paris hotel. Yet, this was not enough. I would have gone more, but it seems that the hard working pastry chefs at Bouchon were given a holiday for the last three days of my trip. Damn them. Damn them to hell.

After collecting Mike and Connor at the airport early in the morning, we immediately drove to the Venetian to eat at Bouchon. Some people complain about the stilted service, and while it is true that things can be a little shaky at times, the food and atmosphere make up for it. It’s a pretty decent bargain, with most breakfasts coming in at under $20.

Daily specials are announced by the server and written on chalkboards around the room. Freshly baked items arrive at your table, along with creamed butter and the jam of the day.

I highly recommend the quiche du jour (eggy, light and rich) the frites (fried in duck fat, they are a bit different than most fries you will have and are well worth a side order) and the fresh beignets (bay-nays) which are served with Nutella. Our server suggested them, and wasn’t even finished saying “beignets” when all three of us exclaimed “Yes!”

Bouchon is a good way to start the day, and stretch your stomach for the inevitable flood of eats Vegas has to offer.

Entrance to Bouchon, which is located in the Venezia tower of the Venetian.

Beautiful floors. In warmer weather, there is a patio that over looks the Venezia pools.

Salmon baguette with fresh cream cheese and duck fat fried fries. In front of Connor sits another cloud of fries, which came with his croque madame.

Fresh butter and jam which came with our baguette.

Mike not paying attention to his menu.

Fresh beignets with Nutella and strawberry jam.

By the way: Nutella does not blend well into coffee, in case you were wondering.

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My dad and I paid a visit to Lenôtre one morning. It took about 10 minutes to collect him at the MGM from the condo, find parking and then find Lenôtre, which is in the shopping area of Paris Las Vegas. Lenôtre is a famous Paris pâtisserie, run by Gaston Lenôtre.

Here is the exterior of Lenôtre.

I had never been in Paris Las Vegas before. Everything was “Le ____”

Le shop. Le Boulevard. etc. Le fromage, if you ask me.

There was a pretty steady line the entire time my dad and I were there, but oddly empty here.

Here, apple-walnut and blueberry “muffins” (more like mini-cakes), some pain au chocolat, apple and raspberry turnovers, pain au raisin, chocolate twists and, of course: croissants.

I honestly expected more selection. There were some small quiches (I got the leek and potato one) and gâteaux in another cooler.

I had dreams of macarons, tartlets, eclairs, baguettes… there was none of those.

The croissant was airy and flaky, with some substance to it. I would go back exclusively for the croissants, but probably not anything else.

My raspberry turnover was deliciously light, but a bit chewy, with a filling that was not too sweet. I normally steer away from sweets in the morning, but this was just right.

My dad enjoyed his “muffin” but thought the caramel was a little sweet and that the treat was a bit dense. He ordered a bear claw to bring back to my mom, but ended up with a fruity turnover instead. They were a bit busy, I guess.

I brought back some quiche, croissant and chocolate twists for the guys, with no screw ups. We broiled some sausages from Whole Foods in our condo kitchenette.

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Yet another morning, after dropping Connor and Mike off at the Bellagio to play some cards, I went and collected some baked goods for them and myself at the Bouchon bakery. If you do not have the appetite for a full meal at Bouchon’s restaurant, the bakery on the casino level floor of the Venetian may have what you are looking for.

The selection was insane, triple the offerings at Lenôtre. In this photo alone, apple and pecan pie, the focaccia of the day, epi baguettes, sandwiches, eclairs and lemon custard tarts.

There were also macarons (four different flavours!), croissants, almond brioche, pain au chocolat, Keller’s famous “TKO” cookies and even doggie treats. Most items were $2.50-4.00.

Two different varieties of Valhrona chocolate cupcakes. They were the size of those jumbo Costco muffins.

I finally settled on one savoury and one sweet item each for the boys, and a macaron as a treat for myself. After dropping off the treats, I was dismayed to see that my macaron had been forgotten by the clerk. I never got to try one because, as I mentioned earlier,  Bouchon was closed the remainder of our visit.

Next time, Keller, next time.

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