The Head Bitches in Charge, Becca and Cori Sue, were invited to Las Vegas for Bon Appetit magazine’s 9th annual Vegas Uncork’d event. The Bitches were lucky enough to rub elbows with some of the greatest chefs in the world, try some of the best restaurants in Las Vegas, and enjoy all that the city has to offer. This review is part of the Uncork’d series, featuring stories and interviews from the weekend. Thanks for having us, Bon Appetit!
I had the most spectacular time in Las Vegas—not doing anything you’d normally do in Las Vegas. I spent Wednesday and Thursday by myself, by the pool, taking conference calls and catching up on emails under an umbrella. I slept, excessively, in ARIA’s incomparably comfortable beds. I didn’t party. I didn’t gamble.
I did shop. And I did eat. Which, I guess, are both activities you do in Vegas. In fact, Becca and I ate like Queens, as we were there for Vegas Uncork’d, a food and wine festival hosted by Bon Appetit magazine.
We’d had amazing meals at Sage at ARIA, Jean-Georges Steakhouse, Lago at Bellagio, among others. I also enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon wine-tasting at the Bellagio, learning about the California wine renaissance, the Old versus New World wine rivalry and more, during a spirited discussion, as the Bellagio fountains performed in the background.
However, I’d really been looking forward to my final meal: a Celebrity Chef Brunch at Bardot Brasserie, Michael Mina’s new French restaurant in ARIA. Mina was joined by the weekend’s notable chefs: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Julian Serrano.
Bardot is the American take on a French brasserie—the beautiful yet contrived variety. Real French cafés are not this polished, clean, or varnish-coated. It’s not unlike Le Diplomate in Washington or Pastis in New York.
That said, the space is stunning: a gorgeous glass square bar, beautiful wood paneling, stunning floral arrangements. If this is the Vegas take on Paris, I’m OK with that.
I walked in and was greeted by a tuxedoed waiter with a tray of mimosas. That’s ideally how I’d like to make every entrance: “Hello, you’re here. Here’s a mimosa, mademoiselle.”
The meal began with Huevos Serranos from Chef Julian Serrano, paired with a white Luneau Paplin Clos De Allées Muscadet. The beautiful dish was cold eggs topped with warm tuna belly and caviar. Chef Serrano is the chef behind Picasso at Bellagio, has two James Beard Foundation Awards, and recently opened Lago, where we brunched the day prior.
The second course was impeccable: an enormous, singular Maine lobster ravioli, made with Michigan ramps and topped with Fava beans. It was created by Chef Shawn McClain, who is a total sweetheart and served us an amazing meal at Sage in ARIA the evening prior.
McClain hails from the Midwest—hence the down-to-earth charm—and was named the Best Chef in that region by James Beard Foundation in 2006 for a little restaurant called Trio in Evanston, Il. The ravioli was paired with my favorite wine: rosé from Chateau D’Esclans Les Clans, a step above Whispering Angel from the Provence wine chateau.
I didn’t think much could be better than rosé and lobster, until a steak course from Jean-Georges arrived. We had the privilege of the full experience at his steakhouse the day prior—touring the kitchen, learning about how they select and cook the steaks, and sampling every steak on the menu.
I had decided that day that Jean-Georges is my favorite celebrity chef. (Previously, I didn’t have one.) This charming, tanned and eccentric French chef was behind many of the best restaurants in New York and Vegas, including the Drake Hotel’s Lafayette and ABC Kitchen in New York, as well as Prime and his namesake steakhouse in ARIA.
(Al)most importantly, he is responsible for the invention of the molten lava chocolate cake—an undercooked cake accident in a French reataurant in 1987—which is my absolute favorite.
The fourth course came from Michael Mina: a Hunters Waffle. The waffle was topped with duck confit, root vegetable hash, and a Maltaise sauce and paired with a thick, earthy red wine that was a 2012 Jean Foillard Cuvée Corclette Morgon. Michael Mina is the man behind Wit & Wisdom Bourbon Seak, Michal Mina, Pabu, Pub 1842—and his newest restaurant, Bardot Brasserie.
As this is Vegas, gluttony and show are common. Given that, I’m not sure why I was surprised when the dessert course arrived. “The Sweet French Affair” was a street scene that was entirely edible—from the sugar lamppost to the tray itself.
The little chocolate buildings were a lemon sensation (a tiered lemon pastry), a chocolate pastry, and the Opera, which was a warm molten chocolate cake topped with icecream all hidden under a charming little chocolate dome. This lovely little chocolate tray of surprises was created by Jean-Philippe Maury, the namesake behind the Patisserie in Bellagio, which puts Willy Wonka to shame.
The Bitches say A+. This was a brunch unlike any other. That said, we’ll return to Bardot each time we’re in Vegas, as you can’t beat a beautiful French brasserie for brunch.
Bardot serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.