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Review: Las Vegas - 3 good meals at the Venetian/Palazzo: Bouchon, Sushi Samba, Enoteca San Marco

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Bouchon is a brasserie-style French joint by Thomas Keller that was just off our hotel room wing at the Venetian. We went there for dinner although I've heard it's fabulous for breakfast, and that there is some multilayered bread-pudding-style French toast involving custard. At dinner, gracious waitstaff, creative presentation... we kept getting whiplash as interesting-looking desserts and entrees and appetizers were carried by to other tables.

I had an entree that involved a medium-rare slab of tuna, green beans, potatoes and some nice sauce... it aspired to be a deconstructed nicoise salad and succeeded.... it brought together all the best flavors a nicoise salad can have, but it was distinctly not a salad. It's also probably the first time I've had a medium-rare tuna steak where I really liked it. Nice job.

My partner had duck breast with cherries and red rice, fennel and tarragon... he really liked it, and loved the red rice, which had almost a congee thing going and involved long-cooking in stock, I believe.

http://www.bouchonbistro.com/

Sushi Samba is in closest proximity to the adjacent Palazzo hotel... albeit like many of the restaurants, it's in the mall... the huge mall with the fake canal and occasionally opera. It's a dark, cozy place though, with some nice rhythmic music at dinner, a little low-key trance/techno. The food, I thought, was very, very good. It's a combo of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian and the nexus is where it shines - especially gorgeous sauces.

The best items we had were:

Seared Kobe Beef ponzu geleé, warm japanese mushrooms, truffled tofu crema - this was an appetizer

Churrasco: five meats - grilled hanger steak, ribeye, pork tenderloin, chorizo, lingüiça with malagueta pepper oil and chimichurri, served with a side of white rice, black beans, collard greens and steak dipping sauces

The dipping sauces were very nice - my favorite is a red (roasted?) creamy chili sauce paired with a yellow chili sauce. I'm going to be roasting, blending and Googling till I can copy this sufficiently at home - and I'd put it on almost everything.

These were nice too:
Sashimi Tiradito sampler: Yellowtail jalapeño and lemongrass; Kanpachi yuzu, sea salt, black truffle oil; Tuna granny smith apple, serrano, lime; Salmon orange and mustard miso

http://www.sushisamba.com/index.cfm/i...

Enoteca San Marco is a Mario Batali restaurant. ("Zach Allen's casual cooking sensibility with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich") Really nice ingredients, preparation and presentation here - simple, clean, delicious. That said, it's in the middle of a fake city square in the aforementioned mall, and involves a dining patio that extends out into the square under a fake blue-painted sky. The food is so good, that can be ignored. However, it's harder to ignore the 'living statues' presentation adjacent, which involves frequent opera noises.

The cheese plate was good and was served with truffled honey, a gorgeous plate of brandied cherries and something else that the cherries made me forget.

For an entree, I got... chicken. Normally, this would be a bad thing. But this was really terrific, and a very generous portion. It was called Marinated Chicken Paillard and involved arugula, fried eggplant and ricotta. I want them to come to my house and make this for me every week. It sounds so basic, but it was so good. Perfectly charred-at-the-edges chicken, either expertly sourced as really terrific chicken or some magic happened in the marination. Probably both. I want these people to help me do my grocery shopping.

My partner got rigatoni with pork belly, swiss chard and cacio. I had a bite and it was yummy in a homemade, cold-weather kind of way.

http://www.enotecasanmarco.com/

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