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Boulud Brasserie at Wynn — The Lobster Did It

Daniel Boulud at Wynn Las Vegas failed to impress this diner.

Daniel Boulud at Wynn Las Vegas failed to impress this diner.

Our favorite food writer visits Daniel Boulud Brasserie at Wynn and comes away with a less-than-stellar impression.

Not even the crustiest critic goes out looking for a bad experience.  Au contraire! Hope springs eternal that each new restaurant just might be the one that delivers a great meal with adept service in a charming environment.

Naturally, the more high profile the eatery,   the more the diner is led to expect and if the name Daniel Boulud is not emblazoned in the culinary firmament, I don’t know what is.

Boulud’s Vegas home is at The Wynn, tucked downstairs with a view of the lagoon (they actually call it a lake) and its always-surprising conceptual sound and light show. The room is narrow, sinuously curved and with a palette of grays, coolly cozy. Cool might best describe the staff as well, at least until an issue arises.

We were cheerfully ensconced in front of a window, the three of us sipping wine and rooting for the giant frog that sometimes materializes atop the waterfall to appear. Homey, country French dishes appealed and we happily shared meaty rich, ideally seasoned steak tartare; tender, garlic-butter-dripping escargot and a bowl of classic onion soup topped with bubbling, browned cheese. Along with a boulangerie’s worth of exceptional breads, we were happy campers.

After a suitable interval, in which I visited the lavish ladies room and wondered why bother with a glassed-in kitchen which is at the back of the room and not visible by most diners, our entrees were served.

I had ordered a skate special. That wonderfully flaky, delicately flavored specialty is too rarely seen on American menus and I was very much anticipating it. It was presented with a flourish and before I could even appreciate the artful arrangement I was hit with the nose-stinging, eye-watering smell of ammonia. It was strong and it was obvious. So obvious it is difficult to understand why neither the person who prepared it nor the wait staff noticed and put the brakes on.

When I pointed it out to the server, suggesting he inhale a snootful, he visibly quailed and hesitantly offered to take it back. “Please,” I replied. “And, bring me the menu again.”

Meanwhile, my companions each dug into their crispy-skinned duck confit and a tureen of sweet, briny mussels.

The server returned to apologize, explaining the problem was with the lobster garnish.

Did I care? Noooo. Now I had to quickly order something or I would be finishing my entrée long after the other two were done. So, I settled on a charcuterie plate. It was decent, but something I could have assembled myself at a decent delicatessen for a lot less than $26.

Not another word was said or action taken by the staff to ameliorate the situation. I didn’t expect the charcuterie platter to be comped, but dessert on the house was the least they could have done to make up for such a major glitch — especially when dinner for three rang in at close to $300.

Would I go back? Well, maybe if they guaranteed the giant frog cooked and served my dinner.

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