I eat: Julienne

I actually wanted to try breakfast at Julienne, but it’s only served until 11:15AM on Saturdays. I couldn’t make it because I had a dentist appointment in the morning, but honestly, even though I love food, it’s a tough sell for me to wake up early on the weekends.

When we arrived, my first impression was… wow! Fancy, schmancy! Since it was a beautiful day, we chose a table outside.

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Our meal began with bread service. I really liked the Rosemary Currant bread. Henry, on the other hand, isn’t a big fan of rosemary so I basically finished his bread for him.

Since I looked at the online menu before we left the house, I was set on ordering the Sauteed Shrimp and Broccoli Curry with Steamed Rice. I was a little bummed when I found out that the menu posted on the website was Julienne’s winter menu and the curry was no longer available. However, there were a couple of other items that caught my eye. I couldn’t decide between the Tuscan Meatloaf with Spicy Tomato Chutney, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach and the seasonal Fish Tacos so I asked our waiter for his recommendation. He said, without any hesitation, fish tacos.

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And they were SOOOO GOOD! The swordfish had a nice char, the citrus was refreshing and I absolutely LOVED the jalapeno aioli. It was definitely the best fish taco I’ve ever had! NO CONTEST!

Henry ordered the Roasted Lamb with Caramelized Onions, Avocado, Tomato, Basil Aioli on Pain Rustique. We were both expecting a hot sandwich, but it was cold.

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Although it was a good sandwich, I really couldn’t tell I was eating lamb. If you told me it was roast beef, I would have believed you. The best thing about the sandwich was the caramelized onions.

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The dessert menu was presented to us with a tray of desserts. Cute points!! We were sold on the Blueberry and Lemon Bread Pudding. It was served warm, drizzled with raspberry sauce and topped with whipped cream. Delish!

The only downside to this great meal was the bill. Two entrees, one dessert and one cup of coffee set us back $50. Julienne may not be my casual weekend brunch spot, but I’ll return when I feel like splurging 🙂

Verdict: 4/5
Julienne
2649 Mission St
San Marino, CA 91108

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I eat: Bottega Ristorante [2]

My first time dining at Bottega was SO AMAZING, I couldn’t wait to go back! I had to try the Egg and Pork Belly Confit, which Tyler Florence showcased on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”. We weren’t able to order this dish the first time around because it’s seasonal; it appears on the menu starting in July.

Good thing I didn’t have to wait too long.

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We started off with one of Henry’s favorite wines (Buehler ’05 Cab) and a few appetizers: Polenta Under Glass, Monterey Calamari and of couse, Egg and Pork Belly Confit.

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The polenta was just as delicious as last time, but the calamari, though tasty, was nothing extraordinary. Unfortunately, I wasn’t blown away with the Egg and Pork Belly Confit either. I LOVED the runny soft boiled egg, but unfortunately, the pork belly was overcooked. Oh well. I prefer braised pork belly over pork belly confit anyway.

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Next up was pasta: Pappardelle Bolognese. The fresh pasta was cooked perfectly, but the meat sauce fell a bit flat. I expected it to be more flavorful.

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We shared two entrees between 3 people because we didn’t want to over-stuff ourselves (which we ended up doing anyway). Since Henry and I had duck last time, we went for the Wood Grilled Lamb (with local figs and polenta). The polenta was delicious and the figs added a subtle layer of sweet that balanced out the gaminess of the lamb.

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We also ordered the Smoked and Braised Short Ribs (with preserved Meyer-lemon spinach). The meat was very tender and the lemon lightened up the dish.

So even though our buttons were popping off at this point, we couldn’t leave without having dessert. I don’t remember the name of the 1st one, but who cares. Focus on the 2nd dessert: Zeppole al Lemoni – Italian donuts served with Meyer-lemon curd and Earl Grey infused jam. Hot damn, these were delicious!!!! I preferred the jam because the lemon curd was a little too tart.

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I had put Bottega on a pedestal after my first time dining there. My second time brought Bottega back down to earth. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the restaurant and would recommend it to anyone. I just know that, other than the Confit of Half Duck and the Polenta Under Glass, most dishes aren’t the best I’ve ever had.

Verdict 2.0: 4/5
Bottega Ristorante Napa Valley
6525 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599-1300

I eat: Bouchon

When one of the girls suggested dinner at Bouchon, I immediately jumped on board. I became an avid Thomas Keller fan after my trip to The French Laundry last October, despite the astronomical price tag. Thus, I was eager to try Keller’s more affordable restaurant, Bouchon.

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Bouchon, Las Vegas, is located on the 10th floor of the Venetian. Luckily, we were staying on the 12th floor so walking to the restaurant only took a few minutes. So location itself? FIVE STARS! 🙂

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We were seated promptly for our 6:15PM reservation. Being so early, the restaurant was practically empty. The menu was printed on a parchment-like paper and wrapped around the dinner napkin. Cute points! I had a hard time deciding what to order. It seemed like the menu listed everything I love: lamb, duck, salmon, mussels, gnocchi. I was only able to cut my list down to lamb or duck so I pressed the waiter for his thoughts. He told me he preferred the duck since he loves him some good seared duck breast. Well sir, it just so happens that I too, am a sucker for a good seared duck breast so duck I shall have! Three of us actually ordered the duck, two ordered the moules frites (mussels and fries) and one ordered the salmon. We also shared the french onion soup, potato puree and macaroni gratin.

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We started our meal with the usual bread service and I absolutely loved the butter (as I also did at The French Laundry). The french onion soup, though comforting since it was cold and windy that day, was nothing special; it tasted like any other french onion soup.

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The mussels were very plump and juicy. On the menu, the description read: Maine bouchot mussels steamed with white wine, mustard & saffron. Though I’ve never had this combination before, the sauce didn’t taste like what I had imagined after reading the menu. It actually reminded me of the chicken marsala I just made. The frites were a bit… disappointing. You may be right about most things, Anthony Bourdain, but Bouchon’s fries are not the best things I ever ate. Don’t worry though, I’ll still keep you in high regard.

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The macaroni gratin fell flat as well. Yes, it was cheesy enough, but the flavors just weren’t there. I don’t know, perhaps use a more sharper cheese? The potato puree (no picture available) on the other hand, was straight up smooth buttery goodness! I would be more than happy to consume 3000 calories worth of that in one sitting.

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The waiter was right about the duck being seared beautifully. But that was the only thing good about this dish. The flavors didn’t mesh well, mainly caused by the tart-sweetness of the rhubarb. With all of the other components being mild and savory, I didn’t expect that punch. The sauce eventually grew on me by the end of the meal, but not to the point where I could say that I loved it. Nice try, Chef de Cuisine, Bryan Podgorski. I realize that rhubarb is now in season and I get what you were trying to do, but ultimately the flavor combination was a fail. However, I will commend you for such a perfectly seared duck breast!

We ended the meal by sharing a creme brulee. I’m glad it was delicious, or else I would have had to hurt somebody.

Verdict: 3/5
Bouchon
The Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109