Photo credit, Raven L.
On our family vacation last week, my husband Bruce and I went to a French restaurant we had visited on our last trip to Las Vegas last year – Marche Bacchus. This little bistro and wine market is located away from the strip (which makes it more affordable) and only about 7 minutes from my in-law’s condo, just west of I-95 (northwest Las Vegas area).
The restaurant features the cooking of Chef Jean Paul Labadie who is featured on Vegas television cooking shows. I wasn’t moved by the fact that his and recipes and videos are also featured at Whole Foods Markets (boo hiss!). If you’re wondering why I don’t have praises to sing about Whole Foods Markets, read this article.
Marche Bacchus has an amazing selection of wine in the wine market, which greets you when you come in the door, and you can peruse the various aisles of wine to choose a bottle before being seated (and you can take your wine home with you if you don’t finish it all, Heaven forbid!). Or you can simply buy a bottle to take home (or four). The restaurant is behind the market, but attached, and there is a choice of indoor or outdoor seating on a lakefront in a beautiful setting with multi-level patio stone floor, wood pergolas, a fountain, and live music ranging from classical guitar to jazz to light flamenco.
I had planned ahead of time to try something new. As a child I had limited exposure to types of foods and varieties of cooking, and as a result this has hampered my adult tastes to a certain extent. Since the discovery of traditional food, however, this has opened up my awareness and desire to eat new things. I took a peek at the online menu before going to the restaurant and found many interesting things such as foie gras, pate, steak tartar, seafood platters with a variety of mollusks (I was clearly thinking nutrient-dense!).
The restaurant offers a vegetarian option at the bottom of the menu for those who don’t like so much meat and seafood…but we didn’t have to worry as we definitely don’t fall into that category. In our opinions, the more fat and protein the better, and this restaurant certainly caters to that desire as most good traditional French restaurants should.
When we sat down, I decided I definitely wanted pate as I wasn’t sure whether I had actually ever eaten it before. Marche Bacchus has two different appetizers with pate, and I chose the Pate Campagnard Maison Mesclun which is “homemade old world country pate” with mesclun greens. Bruce wanted to try a number of different things, so he ordered the Soupe A L’Oignon (French Onion Soup) with carmelized onions, gruyere cheese, and croutons, a house salad, and Moules Frites (mussels, shallots, chardonnay, butter, garlic, and parsley served with fries).
My main course was the Grilled Scottish Salmon. Although the name does not sound decidedly French, it is prepared on a salad of hearts of palm, heirloom tomatoes, baby arugula, and saffron cream…which sounded terribly delicious! When it arrived, I was not disappointed. The cream sauce was simply scrumptious, the salmon was cooked to my specifications (medium), and the salad was fresh and flavorful.
The pate: it was served just as described with greens and some baby dill pickles, olives, and was very tasty and had a great texture. It reminded Bruce a bit of a mild salami. I guess I agreed with him a little, but I was mostly surprised at how mild and appealing the flavor was. I expected pungent and bitter I suppose, having not eaten much liver in my lifetime (what a shame, I say!). It was one of those dishes that I was sorry that there wasn’t more of…and I ate it with great enthusiasm. 🙂 The waiter told me later that the pate was not made from goose but chicken and pig livers. I have never heard of pate being made from pig’s liver, and really haven’t heard of pig’s liver in general for any dishes that have been described to me which included liver.
Here I am eating the pate, and with nary a sour look on my face. For those of you who think liver doesn’t taste good, take my word for it…really, it was delicious!
The mussels: were very good, and I could taste all the flavors listed on the menu – butter, garlic, wine, and parsley. I had tried mussels only once before in Seattle probably 10 years ago, and found that I could barely get down one. But this meal reminded me much of steamed clams in wine, butter, and garlic, which I love and would devour an entire plateful or more of, given the chance.
The verdict: our food was exceptionally good, and we did not leave hungry. The restaurant doesn’t go out of their way to make anything about their business appear sustainable, but I am still impressed at the adherence to traditional French cooking methods and ingredients. I found out when we were getting our bill (as I forgot to ask when I was ordering) that my salmon was not wild-caught, but farmed. I was disappointed, but the meal was still delicious.
When you consider how much it costs to eat at “sustainable” and “organic” restaurants, which are really trendy right now in Vegas and many other large cities, the price is much more affordable. We paid just under $100 for our meal with French and Spanish wines included, and I’ve heard that to dine at some of the other restaurants in Vegas offering sustainable fare, it will cost you upwards over $300 for two people to dine. This is an instance where I believe the prices are too outrageous for food – even if it is for a special evening out, as I could buy at least two weeks of groceries for that amount with organic and sustainable items in it.
The food at Marche Bacchus is delicious, offers a good variety of nutrient-dense and filling meals, and remains faithful (as far as I can tell) to the best representations of traditional French cooking.