As Daniel Boulud prepares for his return to Las Vegas with the opening of his DB Brasserie in the Venetian, the chef staged a series of friends-and-family nights last week. Before Friday’s service, his executive chef, David Middleton, invited me in for a tour of the restaurant and a sampling of some menu items.
The room is stunning, and a far cry from Valentino, the restaurant that previously occupied the space. Where the old restaurant was compartmentalized into cozy spaces, the new one is wide open and airy. It’s decorated in dark-brown wood, set off by mirrors and white linen, with bright lighting throughout—definitely a bit more elegant than one might expect from a Brasserie.
Middleton says the restaurant will combine the styles of all of Boulud’s eight New York restaurants, which run the gamut from casual to fine dining. “It has all the notes of a brasserie, but at the same time there are some newer fine contemporary notes there,” he says. “Vegas is a melting pot itself, so we’re kind of running with that.”
While the menu still hadn’t been finalized, the chef was kind enough to share a few dishes. We began with a duo of poissons fumés, or smoked fish. It combines elegantly simple slices of smoked salmon accented with caraway seed and a delicious sable rillettes, accompanied by preserved cucumber with citrus and dill and pillow-light pommes dauphine (potato puffs) topped with crème fraîche and salmon roe. Next up was a pissaladière: flatbread topped with caramelized onion, anchovies and olives.
For our final savory course, Middleton offered a Tunisian lamb duo, pairing a house-made lamb merguez sausage with a lamb chop. They’re accompanied by Tunisian couscous, minted yogurt, lemon-braised spinach and chickpeas, providing hints of the North African side of the Mediterranean. And for dessert, we sampled Le President: a chocolate-hazelnut mousse tart with coffee Chantilly adorned with gold leaf.
Sadly, Middleton informed us the daily menu will not include the famed DB Burger, a hamburger stuffed with short-rib and foie gras that started the gourmet burger trend when Boulud introduced it in New York more than a decade ago. Instead they’ll offer two other burgers, the Yankee and the Frenchie, the former being an ode to a classic American cheeseburger, while the latter comes with Dijonnaise, pork belly and arugula. DB Brasserie officially opens to the public April 24.