Vegas: Bouchon, yes: Alize, no
Just returned from quick trip to Vegas. Had dinners at Bouchon and Alize, based in part on prior recommendations on this board. Had contrasting experiences:
Bouchon: a great dinner. My wife and I sat outside, some noise from the pool but much quieter than inside. A breeze kept it very comfortable. Started with champagne and white burgundy off the glass list, both very good. Apps were a green salad and a country pate. Both were excellent, along with the great bread.
For entrees, my wife had mussels and frites. Classic bistro presentation made special by the largest PEI mussels I have ever seen or eaten. As good as it was, it was topped by the other entree, which was a special. Braised beef cheed, signature Keller food--fabulous! The beef was braised to an almost gelatinous texture and sat in a pool of an incredibly complex reduction sauce. As good as I've had anywhere, including French Laundry.
Another high point was the wine. We had a very reasonably priced CDP (~$100)--often an oxymoron--at the waiter's recommendation for a Rhone. The sommelier brought it out and spent time telling us about where he got it and why he liked it. We thought it was wonderful.
Alize: in contrast, perhaps the best word to describe our dinner here was "tired." You reach Alize through the (by current Vegas standards) run-down casino. The room is pretty, with a view that improves as the sun sets, depending on which way you face. However, that may have been the high point. A small vase of dying flowers and the worn upholstery set the tone. The menu was rather dated, but plenty pricey (Dover sole at $62!). The bread was stale, and the amuse bouche tasted as if it had been sitting in the refrigerator a long time.
Apps: the waiter warned my wife to avoid the carrot fennel soup. She had salad--fine. I had a pear in phyllo salad, which looked and tasted more like a pear puree-filled piece of French toast. Not bad, just not what I expected.
Entrees: again, the waiter steered my wife away from the steak and to the sea bass, which was very good, perfectly done and presented nicely. No complaints there. I had the duck. The breast itself was also nicely prepared, but the accompanying confit was leathery and tasteless--too long under the heat lamp?
While the food was disappointing, the real low point was the sommelier. We were in the mood for something modest, and asked for a reasonably priced domestic pinot. He immediately suggested the most expensive pinot on the list, a Williams Selyem. Now I agree that it's a nice wine, but I had little enthusiasm for spending well over $200 for a bottle which, although nice, was certainly no better than many $40-50 bottles I have at home. I told him it was too pricey. He then suggested a $175 bottle which I again vetoed based on price. He then turns around and points out another bottle which "he really liked" at $200. By now, it felt like he was doing his best to make me feel like a cheapskate, and made it clear that he didn't think there was anything worth looking at below that price point (I know he really wanted to sell us a Burgendy). We ended up with a respectable but unremarkable Martinelli at $125.
I think the mark of a great sommelier is the ability to put a list together with something at all price points that he or she is truly excited about. The notion that there is nothing worth drinking for less than $200 is obnoxious, and wrong.
We skipped dessert.