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Vegas Eats: Bardot Brasserie at Aria

By Chuckmonster on Tuesday, 25th August 2015 12:55pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 8


When I heard that Aria was tossing Chef Michael Mina's American Fish into the compost bin and replacing it with French bistro Bardot by... uh... Chef Michael Mina... I was uhm... sort of excited. MGM seems to love Michael Mina, he's their all-purpose creator of plug and play restaurant concept. Need some pub food? Done. Need a seafood joint? Done. Need a different variant of pub food? Done. Need a different type of seafood place? Done.

Alas, Bardot brasserie, Aria's French joint. City Center's Comme Ca and Thomas Keller killer?

Bardot Aria Review Entry

I arrived at Bardot late one evening during their "Restaurant Week" promotion. Two young women stood near the front door in conversation. The bar was empty but for one customer. The dining room appeared to be 10% full. I honestly could not tell if the joint was still open. I milled about, hoping that someone would see me, feel me, touch me and seat me. Or at the very least tell me they were closed. After a few minutes of looking around and futzing with my camera... one of the two women breaks away from her conversation, walks over to me and says "party of one?"

Bardot Aria Setting

They sat me at a small table 10 whole paces away from where I was standing. Sorry to interrupt your conversation.

Bardot Aria Bar

The bar features fantastic, ceiling mounted glass and gold plated tube shelving unit that keeps booze overstock on fine display. It is like 1917 up in here. I'm somewhat surprised that the TV view is obstructed by all that shelving, I'm ok with not watching the ball game.

Bardot Review Menu

Within a few minutes, my server arrived and discussed menu options with me. I peeked at the abbreviated prix-fixe Restaurant Week menu and ordered.

Bardot Aria Dining Room

You won't be able tell because I photoshopped the shit out of this photo, but the lighting in Bardot's dining room is really, really, really low. A slit of windows on the mostly mirrored far side wall provide a whiff of the "open kitchen" concept. The windows are embossed with the names of famous French dishes done up in old style gold foil lettering.

The gal sitting with the dude on the left didn't stop looking at, refreshing and talking about her Instagram feed throughout the entire meal. Dude there feigned interest, but I sensed he was biding his time until he got her in the A.S.S..

Bardot Review Bread

The server brought a crusty warm baguette in a Bardot branded bag along with a Bardot branded plate and some Bardot branded whipped butter. I ate the whole loaf of bread and drank four glasses of water. The bread was great.

Some time later, the first course arrived.

Bardot Review Salad

The menu describes this as Salade Bardot (gem lettuce blend, fine herbs, shaved radishes, dijon vinaigrette). I describe it as... uh... maybe I shoulda ate at the pizza place downstairs. Really? This is the salad that Bardot puts forth as their best offering during the vaunted Restaurant Week promotion? Lettuce leaves flowered out? With half hearted attempt to decorate the middle with shaved radish and dill sprigs? Tasted like lettuce with dijon vinaigrette salad dressing.

It looks so sad, like something you might find in a musty old issue of Air France magazine. Eww la la.

Maybe the hostesses were doing me a favor by not seating me, but I didn't get the hint?

The entree arrived.

Bardot Review Fish

Herb Crusted Alaskan Cod crushed english peas, sweet corn, saffron buerre blanc. This dish is a color inversion of the salad, green in the middle, yellow on the outside. Perhaps there is a concept here? More shaved radish.

Maybe I'm having an acid flashback and I'm being transported to the early 1970's. If so, I hope this trip ends at a 1973 Grateful Dead show - spinning through the universe while single-drummer Dead nimbly ping-pongs between Keith's jazzy comps, Bobby whipped cream guitar riffs as Garcia soars to new levels of modal and atonal brilliance. Wow.

Uh... oh yeah... what were we talking about. Alaskan cod. Well, this specimen is what it says it is... a (very lightly) herb crusted cod on a bed of mashed peas, sweet corn and a butter/white wine/lemon juice sauce. I'm all for culinary subtlety, but this taste and flavor escapes me completely. I don't get it.

Bardot Review Fish Detail

You'd think with the butter, lemon, sweet corn, English peas and white wine that this dish would be rich creamy and full of that stuff that makes French food so damn delicious. In fact it was nearly acid free and supremely under-seasoned, with occasional exception being scant portions of the cod that were fortunate enough to have a herb crust. There were two bites where the whole thing came together, but the rest was unbalanced and weird. The thinner parts of the filet were tender and delicious, while the thicker chunks were tough and rubbery. Baffling. As I stared at the unfinished portion, I wished I had ordered the steak frites. Oh well.

Desert arrived, a creme brulee.

Bardot Review Brulee Detail

The sugary crust was snappy and the custard was full of torched sugar smoke and hearty vanilla flavor. Yum.

Bardot is dark and urban, standing proud amongst the waste laid by ongoing bombardment of the Warner Brothers movie studio back lot. Bardot isn't a French brasserie, it is a French brasserie themed restaurant. In this sense, Bardot is a thematic aberration of Aria's concept, a concept that purposefully does not reference the world outside of its self-perpetuated sci-arc-fi mythology. Bardot is as natural as French diner on Venus.

To my eyes, the beauty of Aria is the obstacle that many Vegas visitors can't get their heads around - Aria is a heavily themed, abstract concept of place. It is, truly, what it is.

Perhaps MGM Resorts International has realized the obvious - people don't get abstraction. If they did, abstraction as a concept would cease to exist. I tend to doubt the brain trust thought this hard abou t it. Most likely, Aria brass just wanted to tick off another box in their "Cosmopolitan F U" punch list while shooting a cannonball at Thomas Keller as well. Destroying any and all themes including the heavily themed, non-theme Aria theme is collateral damage.

Other than the weird greeting, service throughout (by Nereida) was truly excellent. She kept me hydrated, took care of my needs, cleared plates, checked in on me and made me feel like I was welcome and wanted at an isolated table in the corner of the bar.

Bardot Review Check

Dinner for one at Bardot with no drinks only water came to $50.16, prix fixe.

Tagged: vegas eats   dining   bardot   aria   french food   michael mina   bouchon   comme ca   cosmopolitan   


Comments & Discussion:

I had the steak frites there in April. I think you were better off with the fish. I liked the space and service and had high expectations for the food. The frites were very good, but not worth the price of the unfinished steak. I've been much more impressed with Jean George down the hall. Also, I'm not sure the quaint, storefront bistro thing really works in the giant, casino restaurant combine

Call me when Carbone opens.

Wow, your "restaurant week" is a ripoff. All of ours are 35 and under. And what is it with restaurants being so dark you can't see? I don't get it.

I'm looking forward to trying Bardot's french toast and eating at Serrano's new joint at Bellagio on my next trip!

I agree with Blakjackkid, I'm looking forward to trying out Bardot (primarily becase Comme Ca is dead and I am absolutely in mourning (because that duck-confit-cinnamon-roll-with-bacon-fat-frosting was totally orgasmic) so if Bardot can replace Comme Ca to at least some degree I'll be happy-ish).

I've eaten at Mina's flagship restaurant in SF. It was nice but I wasn't bowled over - he's very much into lighter flavors and smaller portions whereas I prefer someone to hold my palate down and ravish it like it were Dominique Francon.

But classic French, if its cooked competently, is generally a winner, so I'm going to give it a good shot (aka a long languid brunch).

Lago at Bellagio looks interesting too - its basically an Italian take on tapas. I'm sure it will be good, since I've never been disappointed by Julian Serrano or Picasso.

SDK - if you remember, report back about your meal. curious to hear other opinions, maybe i didn't order the right stuff at bardot.

Not sure if you saw the Lago review:


Shall do a trip report!


Thanks for the detailed report as always Chuck...this was on my to-do list for my next Vegas trip...had second thoughts at the conclusion of your report, but may still try after reading your comments above.

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