Friday 16 November 2007

Darkness Rules at Daniel Boulud Brasserie

Daniel Boulud Brasserie at the Wynn
Las Vegas Resort and Country Club
Las Vegas, NV USA

Where is it?

This fantastic restaurant overlooks the Wynn Hotel's lagoon, which sits on the south side of the hotel. Just follow the signs to the lagoon and head to the bottom level of the hotel.

Once inside, go to the very back of the place to find the toilets. It's one of those restaurants that occupies a long, narrow space (to supply diners with solid views of the lagoon and its somewhat psychedelic nightly light show -- which features some nifty singing animatronics, fancy lighting effects, piped-in music and the like), so to get there you'll enter the restaurant, pass the greeter's counter, head through the two-tiered dining room, and enter a dimly lit hallway in the back of the place (it's adjacent to the kitchen entrance). Head all the way to the back of that hallway to find the bathrooms.

What's it like?

As I said, this is an outstanding French restaurant, offering the creations of a chef that many consider to be one of the best in the USA. The menu consists of traditional brasserie fare, with a touch of Americanism thrown in. There's a hamburger here that's stuffed with foie gras and braised beef short ribs, a succulent beef en daube, tantalizing 32 oz ribeye, delicious crock of Belgian-style mussels, an outrageously delicious homemade charcuterie platter and more. Fantastic food -- and set in a boisterous but friendly neo-Roman-inspired dining room (lots of columns and arched enclaves) that overlooks the aforementioned. (It also happens to be reasonably priced by Las Vegas Strip standards. Our meal came to $140 for four full courses with wine, which isn't that bad for this tourist mecca, if you think about it.)

Of course, the restaurant is dimly lit, and while that makes for a more elegant setting, it creates a slightly off-putting effect in the bathrooms. Because they are at the back of the restaurant, and at the end of a hallway, the bathrooms here tend to serve as a net for all the noise coming from the kitchen and dining room. This makes for a bit of a noisy bathroom-going experience.

Don't get me wrong: These are elegant facilities. The walls and floor are single color slabs of sleek color. The toilet stalls (like at other Strip-restaurant hotel bathrooms) are fully separated rooms. The vanity is a stylish metallic counter featuring two trough-like sinks and a giant mirror behind it. The urinals are mounted to the walls in a way that heightens the sheerness of the walls (like they are in Okada, also in the Wynn). The decor is spare but appropriate -- dried tree branches dangle beside the vanity and in a few other spaces, adding to the minimalism portrayed here.

Yet it's dim and loud, and when those characteristics are coupled they make the place feel a little too busy for business, if you know what I mean. The effect is even worse when another person is in the room with you -- all that noise and dim lighting make you feel like you're surrounded and ultimately prove to be a bit suffocating. This is a classic case of design not being able to overcome the obstacles against it.

Marks out of 10:

7. A very nice bathroom. It just falls prey to the elements around it.

Comments to the Management:

The decor is great, as are the facilities. You just need to create a greater sense of isolation here. Dim lighting alone doesn't do it.

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