Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 | 6 p.m.
Since opening his Bouchon bistro in the Venetian in 2004, celebrity chef Thomas Keller has won numerous “best restaurant” and “most popular” awards. So when he celebrated Bouchon’s 10th anniversary, it was a grand gala occasion also tied to the 20th anniversary of his flagship restaurant in Napa Valley (French Laundry) and the 10th anniversary of his Per Se in New York City.
Thomas served a six-course gourmet meal with fine champagne and wines: foie gras terrine, salmon tartare and Dungeness crab salad started the feast with Billecart bubbly. His seafood salad course of Maine lobster, scallops, mussels, prawns and crab was served with Christian Moreau Chablis.
Diners had a choice of sauteed Scottish salmon with black truffle butter or slow-roasted eye of the rib entrecote for the main course. The glorious meal ended with an anniversary chocolate sponge cake gateau — nearly as tall as the star chef himself.
The restaurant with its soaring interior space is as stunning today as it was the day it opened — the magnificent pewter bar, hand-painted murals by French artist Alexis Paulin Paris, antique light fixtures and the classic mosaic floor. It seats 160 guests, but another 60 enjoy the patio, and there are two private dining rooms to seat 48 guests and another 12.
Thomas describes the meals as French country bistro fare, and although he changes the menu with the seasons, his personal favorites are a yearlong fixture, especially the roast chicken that I love with steak frites. Sticking with tradition since Day 1, the additions to the menu are hand-written on chalkboards. He posed for individual photographs at the towering anniversary cake with each of the 150 guests celebrating the milestone.
“As hard as we work, as committed as we are and as dedicated as we try to be, we always have the opportunity to be better. It’s always that quest to do a better job tomorrow than we did today,” Thomas told me. “That is what drives me and the individuals who work with me. We will continue to strive for perfection and make everything better than the best it already is.
“I want you back here when we celebrate the 20th!”
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.
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In the spirit of Venice, The Venetian is a little piece of romantic Italy right here in Las Vegas. The Venetian is an "all-suite" hotel, with rooms accented with plush linens and Italian marble. The 4,027 suites are divided into two towers: The 36-story Venetian Tower that offers guests a taste of luxurious Las Vegas and the Venezia suites, which guarantee 12 floors of high-end elegance. The top five floors are the hotel's highest level of luxury with its private access, concierge lounge, upgraded features and even a dedicated staff.
The flagship of Venetian nightlife is TAO, an ultra-hip nightclub located inside of TAO Asian Bistro. V Bar is The Venetian's super smooth ultra lounge, made by the owners of New York City's club Lotus and Los Angeles' super swank Sunset Room.
The Venetian features 19 restaurants including Thomas Keller's award-winning French restaurant Bouchon, Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante, Aquaknox for fresh seafood and the 42,000 square foot TAO Asian Bistro. There's also the food court inside the Canal Shoppes for those looking for a quick bite.
Guests can float along The Grand Canal Shops in an authentic Italian gondola ride and pass stores like Burberry and Kenneth Cole along the way. And if you haven't caught a real celeb, on the street in Vegas, you can head over to Madame Tussauds to check out a wax version.