Las Vegas is a weird place. You’re invited to the titty bar, then condemned by the Jesus freaks on their loudspeakers, all within a ten foot radius. Luxury is juxtaposed by kitsch. The scantily clad woo girls do their inebriated wooing into the club as the large, intergenerational foreign family looks on in disbelief. It’s a strange place, but I think I love it all the more for that.
Oh, and it has some fucking delicious food.
I could wax poetic on all the gastronomic choices a person has in Las Vegas. “No matter what your price point, or level of food sophistication, you will find something to satisfy your hunger there,” blah blah blah. But my post today focuses on the one place that captured my attention when I spent the weekend in beautiful Las Vegas: Bardot Brasserie.
Bardot Brasserie is a classic but casual French restaurant, located in the Aria Hotel and Casino. The restaurant’s design reminded me of scenes from Midnight in Paris.
My husband and I made a reservation, but the place was pretty empty for brunch on a Saturday morning at 10:30. Our server was Amanda, who was helpful but not over eager. We could tell that she was knowledgeable and had a passion for the food they were serving.
We were warmly welcomed, then left alone with the menu. Foie Gras Parfait, Escargots Bardot, Hunter’s Waffle, French Toast. The items and how they were prepared really caught my attention. The chef was maintaining the integrity of these super French dishes and giving them an ever so slight American twist. He wasn’t “dumbing down” the food; he was making it more relatable for an American audience. Once Amanda came back, I had to ask: “How does the chef come up with such creative takes on French food?”
Her eyes lit up.
She explained that Bardot is owned by Michael Mina, and that the restuarnt’s executive chef is Joshua Smith. That Joshua used to be the executive chef at Church and State in its first couple of years. That Bardot is still pretty new and that they received the award for best restaurant, 2015, by Desert Companion.
My mind wandered as she continued. I had gone to Church and State here in DTLA in its first couple of years and had the most delicious pork belly dish. You ever have a meal so good that you actually remember it? Yeah, it was that good. So naturally I was excited that this might be the same chef.
My attention came back to Amanda. I asked about the escargot, mostly because I had never eaten it before. She explained that the escargot is wrapped in a delicate puff pastry and topped with chartreuse garlic butter on top.
“I have to warn you though,” she said. “Once you try our version, you’ll probably never be able to enjoy traditional escargot again.”
Well, I obviously had to order it.
We ordered, excited to see if the food was actually as good as the menu and the ambiance. As we waited, a freshly baked mini baguette came out to us with butter. It was perfectly crisp on the outside, but warm and yeasty on the inside. Then came the strong, fresh coffee. Oh, and a really refreshing Bloody Mary made with house pressed tomato and cucumber juice.
Then came the escargot.
I was scared. I had never eaten…snails…before. But they looked like beautiful little pillows of pastry topped with a jade colored sauce on top. Not seeing the shell made it much more palatable to a newb like me. They were buttery and rich; little explosions of savory flavor balanced by the texture of the light puff pastry.
Then came the main course.
The hunter’s waffle was fabulous. The duck confit was perfectly cooked; tender and rich, not greasy. The poached egg was perfect. The yolk was a deep, rich yellow and it flowed slowly like lava when my knife tore through the delicate membrane. There wasn’t too much maltaise sauce. And the waffle was crisp on the outside, but light and fluffy on the inside, adding the perfect crunch to the tender duck and egg.
My husband’s smoked salmon benedict was also delicious. The smoked salmon was rich and buttery, and had a gamey flavor. Trust me, it’s not a bad thing.
Our brunch was so good that we made the decision to have dinner there. That same night.
I ordered the foie gras parfait which was served with grilled country bread. The foie gras was light and smooth, not too rich at all. Then I ordered the steamed mussels which were divine. They were not tough or gummy; they were tender and tasted like the ocean. Though it came with a small loaf of French bread, I preferred dipping the grilled country bread into the broth.
Our friends ordered Bardot’s most popular side dish, the mac and cheese. You will never see mac and cheese served like this. And you will never taste mac and cheese like this either. It’s the ultimate “grown up” version.
My husband had the 14 ounce prime rib which was not huge; but it was so flavorful that it left him satisfied anyway.
Then came dessert.
Our friend ordered the chocolate macaron. She was expecting a traditional, small macaron cookie. She was shocked to find that she had ordered a 6 inch cookie filled with chocolate mousse, topped with chocolate ganache. Yes, it was as amazing as it looked.
My husband ordered the frozen Paris brest. A light pastry, shaped like a doughnut, cut in half, filled with hazelnut ice cream and drizzled with caramel. All of it was delicious, but the caramel really made this for me.
Our other friend ordered the lemon meringue tart. The lemon curd was bright and not too sweet. The meringue cut through the tartness of the lemon.
If I had to pick one word to describe the dishes at Bardot, it would be “balance.” My tongue was overwhelmed by all the flavors, but I never felt like any one ingredient overpowered another. I was challenged to notice all of the complementary flavors.
The service was phenomenal. Everyone was attentive, knowledgeable, and passionate. We asked our server at dinner what chartreuse was. He not only explained it to us; he brought us a sample of it to try ourselves.
We absolutely loved dining at Bardot and we definitely recommend that you give it a try if you’re in Las Vegas.