NH and I recently spent a weekend in Las Vegas celebrating my twenty-first birthday. We spent a lot of time thinking about it beforehand, and since I'm not a gambler (NH enjoys a game of craps and a sports bet or two, but nothing serious) and neither of us are raging lushes, we decided the foci of our trip would be (1) amazing food (2) at least one spectacular show and (3) shopping. Okay, I tacked on the last one, ran NH off his feet, and otherwise troubled him excessively over shoes, etc. etc., but overall we had a very good time. In compensation, I spent a few hours in the sports betting rooms with him, so we're almost even. Almost!
We stayed at The Venetian, which was both fabulous and gloriously, hilariously overdone, and we quite enjoyed ourselves there. Tucked away (seriously, we almost got lost trying to return to our hotel room) in the hotel is one of Thomas Keller's famed Bouchon restaurants, and having already greatly enjoyed the pastries at the Bouchon Bakery in New York City, we were determined to have at least one brunch there. Brunch is, arguably, our favorite meal because we have fewer disagreements about it. Suffice to say that our brunching experience was so delectable that we returned twice more, beginning every day of our stay with a sumptuous and satisfying brunch. If you are ever possessed of the opportunity, you must whisk yourself into a Bouchon for the sake a the beignets, the potato croquettes, the (cream-filled!) sticky buns, the expertly prepared omelets, the...well, I'm getting away from myself here. I truly regret that we did not return for lunch and that we did not sample what some have called the best french fries in America.
Anyway, I'm not posting on the experience because the food was delicious, because to be perfectly honest, I eat many delicious things in a year and have no reason to wax poetic on them to people on the internets who likely are not sampling said delicious food items themselves. I'm writing because the waiters at Bouchon in Vegas seemed to have the perfect solution to the "bottled water, monsieur, or tap?" issue. Obviously, a fellow might feel a bit lame asking for tap, gasp, how pedestrian! I kid, NH and I always drink tap unless I'm really in the mood for something with bubbles. In NYC, I have heard of waiters using cutesy names for tap water that honestly make me want to gag a little, included in this genre are "l'eau Bloomburg" and all of its manifestations. The waiters at Bouchon simply ask patrons if they prefer "bottled or house?" water. It's quite simple, a tad euphemistic, and much more pleasant sounding than "tap".
Of course, this is a very, very small issue. As I said above, NH and I happily order tap wherever we go (I mean, sure, we'd drink bottled in India, or Mexico, or Florida), but for the most part, if you are the sort who is horribly embarrassed by the prospect of ordering "tap" then it is very likely that you have lived a remarkably charmed life. All the same, I appreciated this gesture so much because in the end, it was an effort on behalf of the staff to make me and NH, the guests, more comfortable. For most of time in Vegas the waiters and other service people were of exceptional friendliness, politeness and quality. In NYC, I have seen waiters who are barely able to conceal a sneer when a customer orders a relatively cheap bottle of wine. In Vegas, where the wine lists in fine restaurants are literally binders, the waiters and sommeliers seemed as pleased when guests ordered moderate bottles as when big spenders shelled out for pricey gems. Sure, Vegas is an intense, expensive fantastical charade, but the people working there sure were remarkably pleasant...