Friday, April 19, 2013

Brunching in Las Vegas

Since we were in Las Vegas over a weekend, we were able to experience restaurants normally only open for dinner during their weekend brunch, which was a much more affordable option. To be honest, what we were looking forward to the most in Las Vegas was the chance to dine at some famous chef's restaurants and not have to travel to Napa Valley or New York City (we're looking at you Joel Robuchon and Le Cirque and the tops of that list was Thomas Keller's Bouchon French Bistro. Located in the Venetian Hotel we were a bit disappointed to find the restaurant a glamorized Las Vegas version of a French bistro, but the terrace was absolutely adorable.

Bouchon-resizedLa Bouchon Terrace

We hadn't made reservations so we started with classic European beers before being seated.

Before Brunch DrinksMike

Mike opted for the classic french Trout Almondaine, a boneless Idaho trout split and served with classic french green beans and toasted almonds. This dish was truly scrumptious. The trout was expertly split and not a bone in sight, the trout meat was absolutely delicious, moist and sweet.

Trout Almondaine

I ordered another classic French dish - a Croque Madam. A pressed ham and cheese sandwich smothered in bechamel sauce and topped with a perfect sunny side-up egg. Anthony Bourdain claimed on his Las Vegas No Reservations show that Bouchon's french fries were one of the best he's ever had, so I was pleased as punch to find out that french fries came on the side, but these weren't the best, in fact you could tell they had been sitting out under a heat lamp. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Croque Madam with fries

Bouchon quickly made up for their faux pas (or faux fries) with their take on French Toast. Bouchon's bread pudding pear stuffed french toast were fantastic. A layered tower of what makes brunch so great, besides the waking up late and casually eating and drinking late into the morning, the french toast was like no other and made us think why no one else has thought to do bread pudding french toast, it's basically the same concept.

Bread Pudding French ToastStuffed Bread Pudding French Toast

Our first full day in Las Vagas started off with a bang and a street side mojito (oh those were so good). Our Bouchon brunch kept us going until our buffet dinner, long into the night after dancing at the Aruba Hotel/Club's Reggae & Dancehall ladies night, way, way, way off the strip.

The next morning we hit the Fountains Brunch at Jasmine in the Bellagio Hotel. While not a celebrity or famous chef's restaurant, the Jasmine Restaurant is a classic Cantonese restaurant only serving dinner, but on Sundays they serve a magnificent Asian themed brunch buffet. Yes - Asian. Brunch. Buffet! We were hoping to avoid a list of restricted food items which are the mainstay of brunches (eggs, gluten, sugar, potatoes, coffee) by selecting an Asian themed buffet.

The Jasmine is a cheery sunshine yellow restaurant with a wonderful view of the Bellagio fountain. I loved everything about this dainty restaurant from the yellow butterfly wallpaper to the fine china and high tea feel of the brunch to the excellent white glove service to the luxurious decor and details.

Jasmine Fine ChinaJasmine Decor - ResizedDessert RoomJasmine View

After our drinks order was placed a tower of baked goods, fruit palate cleansers and jams/butters arrived at the table.

High Tea Tower

While we were waiting for our beverages, a waiter plunked down a plate of Peking duck. So far this brunch buffet had it going on!

Peking Duck and Hot & Sour Soup

We made a lap through the different stations and decided to start with a nice bowl of soup and rice porridge to get our stomachs a chance to wake up. The build your own, similar to the omelet station, had us making tough decisions too early in the day.

Noodle and Pourige StationRice Noodle SoupBuffet Sign

Next we made a loop around the cold station, which included all kinds of luxurious items such as cavier profiteroles, sushi, cold salads and tartar cones, as well as the most delicious fruit & yogurt cups and traditional European muesli, adorably served in mason jars.

Cavier profiteroles, salmon & cream cheese rolls and smoked salmonLobster Profiteroles with salmon cavier and citrus creamBuffet Cones-ResizedCavier Profiterole and Smoked SalmonYogurt & Fruit Cup, Meusili & Fruit, and a lobster profiterole

Next we hit the beautifully displayed iced seafood that welcomed us to the Fountains Brunch at Jasmine.

Cold StationTabasco TreeOysters and Cold Items

Now we were ready for some hot items, including the steamer baskets holding dim sum!

Dim Sum CourseTuna Roll

Before heading into traditional brunch items, we tried the cute jars filled Thai beef salad and lobster louie salad, as well as their selection of roasted vegetables situated next to the carving station.

Thai Beef Salad, Lobster Louie and roasted veggies

Now we felt we had eased our way into brunch and was ready for the heavier items - eggs benedict, potato cakes, housemade chicken sausage, nutella stuffed french toast and spinach & gruyere cheese crepes. There was no shafting dish filled with bacon because a brown sugar coated bacon log was at the carving station, along with lobster pot pies and prime rib.

Eggs benedict, potato cake, chicken sausage, nutella stuffed french toast, and spinach & gueyre crepeCarving Station and Lobster Pot Pie

After skipping the sushi station and the make-your-own omelet station, we headed face first into the meat and cheese board. Both the delectable meat and variety of hard and soft cheeses was commendable, it was the fruit accompaniments we were most impressed with, which included the most delicious little green plums, champagne grapes and big fat dried figs.

Meat & Cheese Plate

This wouldn't be a buffet without some tiny desserts and the Jasmine had a whole room dedicated to desserts, complete with a chocolate fountain, gelato, fancy Italian desserts, French pastries, pate de fruits and mochi.

Dessert Plate

Mike was a complete trooper. He was a bit hung over from the night before and several times he thought he would have to go back to the hotel room, especially since this meal took over 2 hours because I refused to leave without getting my fill of this dainty and beautiful brunch buffet. This is Mike sleeping with his eyes open.

Mike barely awake

After brunch we strolled through the grand Bellagio Hotel to their lobby atrium garden decorated for spring with a butterfly house to match the butterfly theme of the Jasmine Restaurant.

Bellagio Lobby GardenButterfly House Resized

All in all the brunch buffet was a beautifully leisurely way to spend the morning after too much dancing, drinking and hijinks the night before. The price was steep and we've had better brunch buffets for a lot less, but this is Vegas and I'd much rather spend my money on a nice meal than gambling it away into the night.

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