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June 23, 2005
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Boulud Brasserie

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GOD (AND GOOD EATING) IS IN THE DETAILS

Daniel Boulud Brasserie
Wynn. Hotel and Casino
702.770.3312

If you'd like to discover the difference between good and great eating, I suggest you run, not walk to the Boulud Brasserie at Wynn and order a single dish. That dish, the Danish-style smoked salmon, is a testament to elegant simplicity. It is also so beautiful in both presentation and flavor that the discerning customer knows there are brilliant professionals at work in the kitchen. To paraphrase a famous saying, God, my friends (and great cuisine) is in the details.

What details first strike you about these strips of smoked fish is how perfectly sliced they are. Then you notice the firm texture, the slightly browned edges, and the subtle wood-smoked essence that caresses your tongue on the first bite. Your plate will also contain a tablespoon of the most finely chopped and uniform pieces of red onion you'll ever see, along with a dollop of not to tangy crème fraiche, and some scattered capers for a slight vinegary bite. I don't know if they smoke this over alderwood shavings like they do in Denmark, but the woodsy perfume, the almost warm temperature, and just a touch of saltiness, lets the purity of the fish come through with all the right accents.

Am I making too much of a single dish? Well if you're a steak-n-taters guy or gal probably yes. But if you like or love seafood, and have ever enjoyed eating a smoked anything....then the perfection of this salmon is a must try.

And the wonders of the Boulud Brasserie do not end there. Le Grand Daniel had the good sense to put Phillipe Rispoli at the helm of the kitchen, and install a top flight front of the house team, This place has run like a fine watch from the get go, and unlike some other Wynn restaurants, will need no re-tooling of its name, its prices, its décor or its menu.

And what a menu it is. An incomparable shellfish platter, charcuterie to die for, a luscious frittata that looks like a big round omelet and before you know it, disappears with everyone at the table taking their licks, and a crispy duck confit that will single-handedly win you over to French food. The wines by the glass are well chosen and well priced, and there's not one, but two humongous hamburgers to chose from. And I haven't even gotten to the two best things on the menu, the wine-drenched short ribs and the braised veal cheeks, because I can never get them-they sell out too fast on a daily basis.

Is there anything I don't like about the Boulud Brasserie? Well the name is misleading-if it's a Brasserie then RM is a clam shack, and the décor doesn't exactly ring my chimes-WITH two exceptions-the bar and the bathrooms are soooo cool, that you should go, even if you don't need to go.

Daniel's signature short ribs of beef: wine-saturated and tender

Daniel's signature short ribs of beef: wine-saturated and tender enough to eat with a spoon--two bites and you're full.

Simple roast chicken done right with small Yukon potatoes

Simple roast chicken done right with small Yukon potatoes.

Alaskan halibut-good but boring

Alaskan halibut-good but boring.

My fave-veal cheeks with veal sweetbreads-rich, delicious and the best red wine food on earth

My fave-veal cheeks with veal sweetbreads-rich, delicious and the best red wine food on earth.

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