Vegas Eats: Daniel Boulud Brasserie at Wynn Las Vegas
A Not-So-Awesome Birthday Dinner
Vegas and my birthday are synonymous. It has become a tradition since Chuck Monster and I started dating 6 years ago. It all started with the annual Trek convention and cheap rooms at the Imperial Palace, with my birthday dinner somewhere in between. However, over the years, not only has our bodies aged, but so has our palate. Instead of a 99¢ hotdog, we now appreciate a finely aged cut of beef or a perfectly broiled lobster. Mind you, there is most definitely a place in our lives for food on a stick, but when it comes to special occasions in a city that is just as famous for it's chefs as it is for it's headlining acts, we splurge.
Given that it was not only the evening of my birthday, but also the eve before our wedding day, Chuck and I decided to checkout the resident French joint at the Wynn. We had initially attempted to get into SW Steakhouse, but when we called without a reservation, they demurred. Instead we were pointed to Daniel Boulud Brasserie just across the way, which also served a fine steak, we were told. We were transferred over and were told we could be accommodated easily. On a Friday night. Not bad, we thought.
After making our way across the casino floor and down the escalator to the French Brasserie, we were told that if we wanted to wait 10 more minutes, we could get a seat outside on the terrace, overlooking the Lake of Dreams. Fantastic! We were getting more and more excited.
Less than 10 minutes later we were seated. We were on the terrace, yes, but behind a column that partially blocked our view. However, as we did not even have reservations we were very pleased. As soon as we were seated, our drink orders were taken and then were given some advice about the menu. We were told, for the second time since we arrived (the first from the hostess) that the best item on the menu was the Braised Short Ribs. It was described as the signature dish and delicious. The lady who offered up this advice fawned over this dish but when I asked about other items she was not as enthusiastic. Having spent time (10 years) working as a food server, I understand the concept of raising the overall cost of the meal. A larger check meant a bigger tip and it just so happened that the ribs they were talking about were by far the most expensive item on the menu (meant for one person - there was a porterhouse for two that ran $85). I took her advice along with everyone else's who suggested it with a grain of salt.
The waiter also attempted to rub us the right way by complementing Chuck on his choice of shirts. Apparently the waiter was a fan of Iron Maiden as well! While the sentiment was appreciated, it did feel like more belly rubbing. It reminded me of a time when I visited a Porsche dealership with a friend of mine. She was in the market for a new Carrera and I tagged along for the ride. At that time I happened to be wearing a t-shirt that depicted an altered version of American Gothic with the farmer and wife being portrayed as skeletons. It wasn't a statement by any means, but the car salesman thought he had my number and as we were leaving he called out my name and said 'Rock and Roll!' ::sigh:: I hate skeeves and this waiter sure felt like one.
In the end despite the waiter's insistence that the Braised Ribs were awesome, Chuck and I decided to go with what we were craving and I opted for the steak frittes, 'a true French classic' per the wandering hostess lady, and Chuck went for the roasted chicken. For starters we went with the French onion soup and a Caesar salad and our side was the 'super green spinach'. The waiter seemed under whelmed with our order, but my feelings are that you can't just order the signature dish at a joint to get a true feeling for the menu. Clearly the braised ribs were going to be good, but could they serve up an awesome steak for me? Could they roast the hell out of a chicken the way Chuck likes? These are the questions that we had up when selecting these items. Screw the road always traveled, we decided to go off-roading.
The appetizers arrived and while the onion soup was as good as it could be with the perfect amount of cheese melted atop a floating crouton, the Caesar was not awesome. I prefer my Caesar to have a less egg-y dressing and this did not meet my standards. Not to say that it was bad, but it was not my style. Some prefer a heavier Caesar dressing; I just happen to not be one of them. Additionally, there was no 'tang' to the dressing, which is also something I prefer. Overall I found it to be a tasteless creamy Caesar. Chuck really did enjoy the soup however and I concurred that it was awesome.
when our main dishes arrived we were pretty well ready to tear into some flesh. The steak, served with fries and shallot butter, had a nice hunk of fat hanging on one edge, something that I just don't care for. Admittedly, my cut of choice is usually a filet mignon so fat is not something I am used to. The roasted chicken was served with green beans which turned out to be cold! Mind you the menu does say 'haricot verts salad' so I guess we should have expected it but visually, it didn't appear to be cold so it was quite a shock when we tasted it. The chicken was roasted fine, but nothing I couldn't do in my own non-gourmet kitchen. The best thing of all ended up being the super green spinach, which ended up being a perfectly creamed spinach held together well with a heavy cream. Having never really tried creamed spinach, I have nothing to compare it to, but I can say that it was tasty - and hot which was nice.
During dinner we were privy to the show over the Lake of Dreams, which was a treat and unlike anything I have witnessed over a meal before. The lake's backdrop is a faux mountain covered in real pine trees. Against the mountain was a screen where images were projected accompanied by music. Various props popped up from behind the screen depending on the show. Our favorite of the night was the 'tulip dance' where along with the projected images, two giant tulips appeared from behind the screen and began a dance. They twirled and spun and swayed along with the music and it was quite fascinating, event without the LSD.
Our meal ended in a whimper. Me, someone who makes a mental note of my dessert selection even before the main course found that I couldn't care less about dessert at the Daniel Boulud Brasserie - on my birthday nonetheless. That, to me was more telling of anything else that occurred during our dining experience. The fact that I was not interested in a dessert at a French restaurant did not bode well. Truthfully, Chuck and I wanted out of that place badly enough that I even forwent my usual after dinner coffee.
The check took forever to arrive and the meal came out to be as pricy as expected but without the satisfaction that we needed. I guess even in the Wynn, you can have an underwhelming meal, sadly and surprisingly.
As we left the restaurant, we glanced longingly across the way at the SW Steakhouse. We vowed to visit Steve Wynn's namesake restaurant before we left Vegas on our wedding weekend to make up for the 'meh' experience of the Daniel Boulud Brasserie.