If you caught the recent Lyon-based episode of Parts Unknown, in which Daniel Boulud guides Anthony Bourdain through his hometown—known as the mecca of French cuisine—you might have a new idea of what it means to create a perfect meal. They ate Nouvelle Cuisine classics with the legendary Paul Bocuse. That’s not something that can be topped.
Fortunately, Boulud sat with us to construct a perfect meal we can all enjoy, picking his favorites from the menu at DB Brasserie. “I’m entertaining a few friends?” he asked.
“Sure,” we said, “Who would you invite?”
“Well, the people have to be fun,” he answered, so keep that in mind when you’re eating this food.
DB Brasserie Venetian, 702-430-1235. Daily, 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
Tarte flambée with the Ex-Pat
“In Vegas, starting with a cocktail is a must.” Boulud loves this simple sip of Maker’s Mark with a ginger-vanilla ice sphere: “As it’s going, it keeps smoothing itself out.” He pairs it with the Alsatian tarte flambée, a delicate pizza-ish thing with a super-thin crust, crème fraîche and fromage blanc, crisp pancetta and caramelized onions.
Ballotine of quail
“It’s very important to start with some foie gras or pâté de campagne. I’m from Lyon so I love charcuterie. But we are doing a new ballotine of quail, which has a light crust, quail and foie gras and some light fruit.”
“Then, something a little spicy, a little crunchy. The calamari is beer-battered and has pickled Fresno pepper, kaffir lime, cilantro and a coconut sauce. It doesn’t have much to do with French cuisine, but I’ve always had a passion for Asian cuisine, and there are fresh flavors in this dish that really resonate.”
After that, it’s time to get super-French with a fricassee of snails, shallots, mushrooms, hazelnuts and chicken oysters over parsley coulis. “It’s finished with fresh garlic, and when that hits with the chicken and snail together, I love that. To me, it’s a classic dish.”
“Unless you want to finish casually with some burgers—and certainly ours is one of the best in Vegas—the Tunisian spiced lamb is the one.” This majestic dish includes a house-made merguez sausage plus grilled lamb loin marinated in harissa. “We serve that with lemon-braised spinach that’s so delicious—almost like collard greens—and chickpeas, a little tagine vegetable sweet pepper stew, and finished with yogurt tzatziki with cucumber and mint. It’s so refreshing and has a lot of spice, great contrasts.”