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September 2, 2014

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Preview: Daniel Boulud’s DB Brasserie at the Venetian — c’est magnifique

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Bill Milne

Chefs David Middleton and Daniel Boulud are opening DB Brasserie on Thursday, April 24, 2014, at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

DB Brasserie at Venetian

DB Brasserie at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »
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Homard au curry at DB Brasserie at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

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Raspberry clafoutis at DB Brasserie at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

2013 Epicurean Affair and Daniel Boulud Announcement

The Daniel Boulud announcement and the 2013 Epicurean Affair at the Palazzo on Thursday, May 23, 2013. Launch slideshow »

It’s a take-your-breath-away moment when you walk into star chef Daniel Boulud’s stunning, new and contemporary French restaurant at the Venetian. And the food at DB Brasserie is just as striking. It’s the perfect recipe for a remarkable dining experience.

Daniel flies here from New York for the official opening May 8 as part of the hotel’s first-night partying for the launch day of this year’s Vegas Uncorked food-and-wine festival. However, starting Thursday, first guests will be able to revel in its energetic opulence. Our photo gallery today does more justice than any words from me can adequately convey.

I enjoyed a delicious advance experience Monday night, and our esteemed Senior Editor Don Chareunsy visited over Easter Weekend — and we both not only came away filled and satisfied but also raving with high praise about Las Vegas’ newest celebrity chef restaurant.

Renowned culinary king Daniel is no stranger to Las Vegas, and this isn’t his first rodeo. Steve Wynn originally wooed him to the Strip at his rival hotel across the Strip. Sometimes the best of intentions don’t pan out in the cutthroat restaurant world, and a somewhat-baffled Daniel returned to his thriving East Coast empire.

I’ve known Daniel, author of eight cookbooks and a multiple winner of prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards, for more than 25 years. From the French hotbed of perfect cuisine in Lyons, he has called Manhattan home since 1982 when he was an unknown in Sirio Maccione’s kitchen at Le Cirque. Now he owns his own top-ranked restaurant, Daniel, in the same space winning an unheard-of three Michelin stars.

Considered one of America’s leading culinary authorities and one of the most revered French chefs in New York, Daniel owns seven other Big Apple venues and has expanded to Florida, London, Singapore, Montreal and Toronto, with a Washington, D.C., outpost up next. It’s a well-deserved and extraordinary success story for one of the nicest, warmest personalities in the food business.

Now he’s returned here to Las Vegas and teamed with executive chef David Middleton, who in the past decade has worked with Alex Stratta at the Wynn and David Burke at the Venetian. On the opening team of Alex at the Wynn, David saw his five-year run there win restaurant accolades, with two Michelin stars and Mobil Five Star and AAA Five Diamond awards. He went on to open Scott Conant’s Scarpetta at the Cosmopolitan.

David rejoined Alex two years ago at the gourmet lakeside favorite Marche Bacchus on Desert Shores in Summerlin. Over the years, Daniel had invited him to work at any one of his New York City hotspots where it’s nigh on impossible to secure a reservation without a several-week wait.

Their paths crossed again at a City Meals on Wheels benefit. A snowstorm stranded David in Manhattan, and because there were no hotel rooms, Daniel and his wife invited David to stay at their Manhattan pied-a-terre. Over a late-night meal Jan. 27, they talked Las Vegas and Daniel’s plans for his Las Vegas return. Five weeks later, they began the collaboration on the menu and now less than four months later DB Brasserie at the Venetian is about to open.

Vegas DeLuxe reported last May that Daniel was returning to the Strip to open at Sheldon Adelson’s casino resort.

They’ve created a spectacular space and food to match with more than 300 international wine selections. With the main dining room, the lounge bar and private rooms, DB Brasserie accommodates 280 guests for lunch and dinner.

It has all the elements of a traditional brasserie from the French capital but with modern French New American cuisine. Let me make your mouth water by recommending the watermelon and lobster curry salad with julienne (thin strips) of young coconut.

That didn’t do it? Well, start with the aromatic Thai calamari or the crab and avocado presentation with baby pink grapefruit slices. I was over the moon with both, and we couldn’t resist adding the hamachi with eggplant. Continue with the swordfish or salmon — the lightest I’ve ever tasted anywhere in the world.

End with the deliciously delightful raspberry and rhubarb pie topped with ginger yogurt sorbet or the strawberry sundae juggernaut. I added the presidential chocolate hazelnut mousse tart. This is a meal no one will quickly forget, and it raises the bar for French brasserie fare in Las Vegas.

Don completely agrees: “This is one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, from the sparking wine, seafood platter and French onion soup to the duck and foie gras terrine and crispy duck confit. My guest raved that the halibut he ordered was the best he’s ever had. Somehow, we had room for decadent chocolate molten lava cake and a souffle. DB Brasserie itself is chic, classy and absolutely gorgeous.”

Daniel described his return and the opening of one of the most anticipated culinary events of the year: “It has all the elements of a traditional brasserie with the constant energy of a cafe. It will buzz with people enjoying my favorite French dishes and fine wines, shellfish and charcuterie. It is a very French feeling.

“We have brasserie classics to start, three of my gourmet burgers with market-driven dishes changing regularly using the best ingredients of the season. Desserts provide the essential sweet finish.”

It’s Daniel’s signature French-American cooking and a modern sensibility of unexpected twists. Designer Jeffrey Beers created the spectacular and perfect complementary atmosphere for guests with blackened steel panels and a grid of glass-ceiling panels with a faux skylight with changing lighting to mimic natural light changing through the day and evening.

Around the perimeter of the restaurant are single Edison bulbs mounted in antique brass fixtures. The bar area includes a marble-topped communal high-top table, and the back bar is amber glass backlit for added drama.

There’s no doubt that Daniel and David’s culinary creation will be this summer’s dining hit here. Log onto Open Table immediately for your reservations starting Thursday.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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