Thursday, January 24, 2008

Joël Robuchon (Las Vegas, NV)

Joël Robuchon
3799 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109
702.891.7925
www.mgmgrand.com/dining/joel-robuchon-at-the-mansion-french-restaurant.aspx
Thu 01/24/2008, 08:50p-12:10a




The advent of Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas ushered in the beginning of a new era: it firmly established the city as a culinary destination to be reckoned with. Once known for its all-you-can-eat buffets and $1.99 steaks, Sin City is now a showcase of the gastronomic world, with top chefs from around the globe establishing beacons in this desert oasis. In addition to Joël Robuchon, we have Alain Ducasse, Bobby Flay, Bradley Ogden, Charlie Palmer, Charlie Trotter, Daniel Boulud, David Burke, Emeril Lagasse, Guy Savoy, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Mario Batali, Michael Mina, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Thomas Keller, Tom Colicchio, and Wolfgang Puck (whew!). But despite this formidable competition, Robuchon is the one and only to have garnered three Michelin stars; and it also the sole restaurant to have received a four-star review from LA Times' notorious food critic S. Irene Virbila. If you can only have one meal in Las Vegas, I firmly believe that this is the place to do it, assuming, of course, your wallet can stomach the damage.


Although Robuchon is located just a few precious feet from the clamor of the casino floor, the restaurant provides a haven of tranquility once you step inside. The checkerboard tile of the lobby greets you before you enter the main dining room. To your left is the bar.



Robuchon's dining room is a relatively intimate affair; for me, it recalls a salon of a posh upper-class apartment in mid-century Paris, replete with a massive Swarovski chandelier, coffered ceilings, and posh aubergine sofas. It is quite simply one of the most luxurious dining rooms I've ever experienced. This salon opens up to an "outside" seating area complete with ivy hedges and stone statues (next time I'll try to sit here). According to our server, the dining room seats sixty, though they prefer to keep the restaurant well below capacity. And indeed, the place was about half full when we arrived.


Two set menus are offered: a six-course and a thirteen-course (formerly sixteen). The six-course was considered for about a nanosecond: if we've come this far, we'd want the full Robuchon experience. The menu on the left is what we received at the beginning of the meal, while the other is customized with our party's name and the signature of Executive Chef Claude Le Tohic (I have no idea what he wrote). Le Tohic worked with Robuchon at Jamin in Paris, while the Chef de Cuisine Tomonori Danzaki hails from Tokyo. Click for larger versions.


Naturally, I had to start with a mojito. Good thing I did, as it was truly one of the best I've ever had. One of my dining companions wanted a cucumber martini. They didn't have the requisite ingredients, so a pear martini was offered instead. I had a sip, and it was delicious.


Unfortunately, Robuchon doesn't offer set wine pairings, so we decided to go it by the bottle (left to right):
  • Bruno Paillard, 'Brut Rosé Première Cuvée', Reims, NV: Crisp and light, the Paillard exhibited typical Champagne notes of toast, along with tinges of vanilla and spice; this wasn't too different than a non-rosé cuvée actually.
  • Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Riesling Spätlese, Dr. Bernkasteler Badstube, Wegeler, 2004: A bit less sweet than I expected from a spätlese, which probably worked out for the best given the food; clean citrus and mineral flavors are this wine's signatures.
  • Merlot, Shafer, Napa Valley, 2004: Quite tasty and easy drinking, a lush presentation of dark fruit and earth leads to a moderately chewy texture and a slightly tart ending.
  • Pacherenc du Vic Bihl 'Brumaire', Domaine Alain Brumont, 2004 (dessert, not pictured): My first experience with this type of dessert wine; I found it more straightforward than a Sauternes, with jammy hints of stone fruit and vanilla leading to a long, lingering finish.
These were actually some of the most affordable bottles on the list. Beware of the markup; it's routinely around four times retail! Consider that a 1995 DRC Romanée-Conti was on the wine list for $16,000; I've paid less than a quarter of that for a bottle. We considered bringing our own wines, at least before we found out that corkage is a whopping $100. And I thought the $50 at French Laundry was steep...


Quite simply the most impressive bread cart I've ever encountered! Two dozen varieties must have been presented. It took our server a few minutes to run through the entire list, and I had a hard time remembering all of them. I personally sampled bacon, basil focaccia, and olive; those were about all I could recall! Other varieties included Gruyère, saffron focaccia, and milk bread.


1: L'Avocat - Dans une infusion juste prise aux herbes et une caillebotte à l'huile d'olive
Avocado purée in a thin herb gelée and olive oil flavored curd cheese. A slightly tart tomato base contrasts and complements a rich, creamy topping, so it's best to get all the layers in one bite. This actually reminded me of a a seven-layer dip (think salsa, guacamole, and cheese), not necessarily a bad thing mind you! A great way to start the meal.




2: Le Caviar - Asperge verte aux feuilles de mélisse, gelée recouverte d'une onctueuse crème de chou-fleur, fines graines de couscous iodé
Green asparagus topped with Oscetra caviar (with lemon balm; an interesting combination; great texture and snap on the asparagus, though caviar was less apparent), delicate gelée and a smooth cauliflower cream (good interplay between a mild creaminess and briny tang; I would've liked to try it without the gelée mediating the caviar and cream), thin couscous and Oscetra caviar (my favorite of the trio; loved the gritty complexion of the tiny beads of couscous, and how that contrasted with the pearls of caviar, as well as the crisp crunch of the vegetable wrapper).


3: La Saint-Jacques - La noix poêlée aux fregolas avec une émulsion coralline
Pan seared scallops with fregolas pastas and coral emulsion. Perfectly cooked with a fantastic texture, the scallop actually had some Asian notes to the flavor, as we seemed to detect hints of ginger and coconut milk. I wasn't sure I could grasp the coral though. In any case, it ranked right up there with the best preparations of scallop I've ever had.


4: La Langoustine - Truffée et cuite en ravioli avec un émincé de chou étuvé
Truffled langoustine ravioli with stewed cabbage. One of Robuchon's signature dishes, this did not disappoint. A meaty portion of langoustine provides a satisfying snap, a creamy, perfect balance between cooked and raw, while just the right amount of truffle adds a pungent bite. Loved the cabbage too, with had a crisp yet tender texture, with strong notes of butter.



5: La Symphonie de Truffe - En tarte friande aux oignons confits, les légumes d'hiver mitonnés au foie gras, un zéphyr avec un consommé végétal
Black truffle in a hot pastry, onions and smoked ham (I didn't particularly enjoy the truffle pieces on their own, but when paired with the tart, wow! it was like a pizzeta actually, with all the various components of ham, onion, pastry, and truffle all coming together in perfect harmony), fall vegetables in a green cabbage ravioli (a very interesting "ravioli," the truffle actually stepped aside on the palate in order to showcase the vegetables; I have a hard time describing the taste, but I liked it), light truffle cream on top of custard (surprisingly mild, this was an experiment between an ethereal preparation of truffle and a slightly bitter vegetable base; note the truffle design of the saucer). On a humorous note, when we were first served the course, I was about ready to eat the decorations on the top-left of the plate; they looked tasty!


6: L'Ormeau - Dans un court bouillon aux jeunes poireaux et gingembre
Abalone, baby leeks in a ginger bouillon. Sliced paper-thin, the abalone was soft and sikly on the palate, while conveying only a whisper of abalone flavor. Most of the taste and aroma actually came from the bouillon, which gave the dish a distinctly Asian quality. Quite satisfying, and much better than I thought it'd be.


7: L'Amadai - Cuit en écailles et servi sur une nage au yuriné
Amadai in a lily bulb broth. Another one of Robuchon's signature dishes, the sea bream was delicate in flavor and texture, but managed to transmit power and complexity at the same time. But what really set the dish apart for me was the application of the fish's firm, crispy skin, which provided an excellent foil to the amadai's fine flesh.


8: Le Turbot - Cuit sur l'arête avec étuvée de chataîgne et céleri au jus truffé
Roasted turbot "on the bone" with celery and truffle stew. I greatly enjoy the firm yet pliant texture and delicate flavor of turbot, and this was no exception. Since the fish is generally mild in taste, the application of celery, truffle, and onion added layers of complexity to the dish, which dazzled the nose as well as the tongue.


9: Le B--uf - Grillé au plat, foie gras laqué ivre de port vintage »Taylor's», macaronis au vieux comté, cristalline au poivre
Grilled Kobe beef, roasted foie gras with port, cheese macaronis, black pepper cristalline. Great piece of beef, I loved the crust, and found the meat very tender and fatty, I mean you can see the marbling in the photo! I also appreciated how the meat was allowed to stand alone for the most part, without being adulterated or oversauced. However, it didn't quite reach the level of goodness I had at CUT (to be fair, nothing has yet so far). The macaroni was delicious as well, so the weakest component of the dish was actually the foie gras, which I found merely ordinary (when pretty much everything else had been extraordinary).


10: L'Epeautre - Du pays de Sault mitonné et doré à l'or fin
Sault farrow prepared risotto style, gold leaf. This was like risotto, but "rougher." I will admit that I don't know quite what "sault farrow" is; a search on Google seems only to bring up references to this very dish. An interesting bridge to the sweet courses, but I rather liked it. If you're wondering about the gold foil, it didn't really have a taste (but it sure looked good!).


11: La Pore William - Glacée aux saveurs fruitées et confite à la crème de Cassis
William pear on a sorbet and confit in black currant. Quite a unique dessert. We have two flavors on each side, both sweet, but with the darker side much more intensely so. Meanwhile, the black currant confit provides a firm, sticky, almost jelly-like counterbalance. I found that I enjoyed the course better with everything mixed together though. Very nice.


12: Le Chocolat « show » - Coulant à l'Araguani, sorbet mentholé
Melting Araguani chocolate with a hint of peppermint. When I showed a picture of this dessert to a friend of mine, he exclaimed that it looked like something out of a video game! I personally think it looks more like an eyeball, but in any case, you have a dollop of cool sorbet sitting on top of a warm layer of decadent chocolate. And once you mix the ingredients together, the dessert tastes remarkably like mint chocolate chip ice cream!


La Crème Glacée - café, vanille, framboise
Coffee, vanilla bean, raspberry, orange tuile. Not much to say about these; they were about what you'd expect from ice cream. My favorite was the vanilla.


13: Mignardises
We started the meal with the most extravagant bread cart I'd ever seen, and we ended with the most striking candy cart I'd ever experienced. Again, it took our server a few minutes to go through it all, and again, I was trying to remember everything. I don't even recall everything we tried. I should've asked for some to go!


Take Away
Many higher caliber restaurants give you a gift to go, usually a muffin or a few cookies. But here, we each received an entire full-size fruit and nut cake! I still haven't finished eating it.


As we were the last ones in the restaurant, we got a brief glimpse into the kitchen. I like how the checkerboard motif continues from the lobby.


Chef Le Tohic was able to come out and greet us about midway through the meal.


A new per person price record is set! (French Laundry was the previous record holder)

People say that Robuchon is the best restaurant in Las Vegas. I'd say that Robuchon has a good shot of being the best restaurant in the country. Perhaps that's a bit of hyperbole, but this is certainly the best French meal I've ever had (yes, even over the Laundry). Now I'm not sure if it's the best meal I've ever had, since Urasawa is a force to be reckoned with. My number one French and my number one Japanese: now that's a tough choice, as those two happen to be my two favorite cuisines. But nevertheless, Robuchon managed to exceed my expectations, a truly rare and unexpected feat, as they were indeed lofty standards to begin with. How am I not surprised that in a city where money is apparently no object, we find this culinary tour de force of almost incomparable magnitude? If Las Vegas is a treasure trove of gastronomic delights, surely then Joël Robuchon must be the crown jewel.

41 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

kevin,

i think i would have been fine with that incredible bread plate. i would have ordered a cheese plate and be eating for the next 3 days.

seriously though, the food looked great and the presentation immaculate. how full are you at the end of the meal? do all the small courses add up?

are you mystery companions lucky friends, fellow foodies or some lucky lottery winner?

anyways..keep up the great blogs.

i like how every mention of steak goes back to the Cut blog. i completely agree.

Paul

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks Paul!

The bread cart was indeed the most extravagant I'd ever seen. Funny thing about the cheese plate. They told us they typically don't offer one since Americans tend not to like it!

And at the end of it, I was quite full. Not French Laundry level full, but still quite satiated.

As for my dining companions that night, one is a fellow foodie and one is simply rich. ;)

Saturday, June 14, 2008 5:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robuchon wrote something like "With all my friendship, fellow gourmand friends (signature)" or so.

Awesome post and very very very good food blog! I'm having a blast reading about all the places I can't afford to go (as well as the occasional new LA restaurant discovery). Keep it up!

- Andrea

Friday, September 19, 2008 2:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoops, I mean "Claude Le Tohic" wrote, not Robuchon. That makes a lot more sense (why would Robuchon sign for someone else? :P).

Friday, September 19, 2008 2:59:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Andrea, I'm glad you've enjoyed my blog, and thanks for the translation!

Friday, September 19, 2008 4:22:00 AM  
Blogger giz lau said...

drool :) robuchon has a special place in my heart, though i only went next door to l'atelier.

Monday, November 17, 2008 1:58:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I've heard good things about Atelier, but next time make sure to try the real deal. It's a totally different experience. ;)

Monday, November 17, 2008 3:37:00 PM  
Blogger ilikejane said...

hi kevin - lol...i was trying to research how much the 16-course tasting menu was and i didn't realize until i did get the baseline price (~$400 w/o tax, tip, drinks) that you had a picture of your receipt right at the bottom of your post! argh! anyhoo - my gf's wanna try joel when we go to vegas next weekend. i'll let u know what we decide to do! hope you have fun at urasawa, and i hope you got my email address from my previous message. pls send me a test email if you'd like!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 5:45:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

The price is also on their web site--$385 per person. ;)

If you can only go to one restaurant in Las Vegas, I'd make it Robuchon. If you can go to two, add Guy Savoy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 9:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

I probably will never get to experience a dinner like this because I can't get past a price tag. Where I live that much money could buy groceries for a family of 6 (two parents and four children) for 3 months.

Monday, June 08, 2009 8:02:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Where do you live Amanda?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009 12:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Casper,Wyoming
I spend about $650 to $700 a month to feed my family a month.

Thursday, June 11, 2009 2:35:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

So that works out to about $3.75 per person per day. Seems quite low to me, but I suppose it's manageable. Certainly, there are plenty of days where my food expense is under $10.

If you can, I still urge you to give a restaurant of Robuchon's caliber a try. I think it's worth it to experience such a thing at least once in your life.

Thursday, June 11, 2009 3:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

I don't disagree and would not turn down the opportunity to try the food, if I could just avoid the bill.

Saturday, June 13, 2009 9:39:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Well, now you can't have your cake and eat it too. ;)

Saturday, June 13, 2009 4:38:00 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

$385 is the highest tasting menu i've seen for western food in america! per se or the french laundry is a bargain compared to this! but i guess robuchon does use a lot of luxurious ingredients. do you know where he sourced the caviar and truffles? is the kobe beef imported wagyu or the angus/wagyu cross-bread in america?

Friday, June 19, 2009 9:32:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Yes, I believe Masa in NY is the only restaurant with a higher price tag in the US. And remember, with French Laundry and Per Se, service included in your $240!

Unfortunately I do not know where the caviar and truffles come from. As for the beef, I was just at Robuchon again last week, and they were offering up wagyu for $40/oz. At that price, I imagine it should be imported.

Friday, June 19, 2009 1:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Shannon said...

Thanks for the wonderful review! I was trying to pick the perfect Las Vegas restaurant to celebrate my best friend's birthday, and I think you just made my decision easy.

Friday, June 26, 2009 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Shannon, I'd also consider Guy Savoy as well. I actually went back to Robuchon a few days after Savoy, and it wasn't quite as good as it was on this occasion.

Saturday, June 27, 2009 2:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

L'Atelier not the real deal? My gosh.

Thursday, July 16, 2009 6:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I went to the Mansion, they told me the caviar was from Iran but this was 3-4 years ago. BTW, I accidentally found your blog and was impressed by the quality of your comments. Keep the good work.

Sunday, July 19, 2009 7:28:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks for the tip. It'd be nice if the caviar was still Iranian.

Sunday, July 19, 2009 11:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin:

What did you think of the service and the general atmosphere? When I ate there alone, I thought the waitstaff (and especially the sommelier) were quite robotic, almost cold. The place lacked warmth as far as I was concerned. The food was great; the service extremely professional, but not engaging at all. I found Guy Savoy to be much more inviting.

Monday, September 21, 2009 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I've only been to Guy Savoy once, but from my experience, yours is a fair statement. I haven't found the servers at Robuchon overly cold, but I think the apparent warmth at Savoy stems largely from Frank Savoy's presence at the restaurant.

Monday, September 21, 2009 4:23:00 PM  
Anonymous dan@stwoa.com said...

3 days away from my reservation....will report back!

Sunday, November 15, 2009 7:47:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Dan, I noticed that some of the items I had on my second Robuchon dinner are still on the menu, so it'd be interesting to hear your thoughts on those. I assume you're getting the degustation?

Monday, November 16, 2009 1:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, December 11, 2009 1:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thursday, December 24, 2009 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Ah, what a perfect ending! Referring to your concluding paragraph. :) Your posts are superb as always!

Thursday, August 12, 2010 3:33:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks Jen. So you're coming here? Where else in Vegas?

Friday, August 13, 2010 1:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think someone mentioned he wrote 'Avec toute ma sympathique ami ties gourmandes' which roughly translates to 'You can never have the class of a Frenchman you goofy looking boy but I will still take your $2,000. Sucker!'. :-)

Friday, August 20, 2010 11:47:00 PM  
Anonymous sejintenej said...

Pays de Sault is a high grass plateau in France close to the Spanish border.
L'epeautre is spelt bread which seems out of context. However the original meaning of farrow related to male pigs so I suspect the dish includes wild boar (sanglier) from the Pays de Sault

Saturday, September 25, 2010 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous kmannens said...

If you go to a restaurant like Robuchon, are you still supposed to tip 15-20% for a party of 3?

Hailing from Europe, I am still not used to the absurdity of the tipping culture here in the US. The (IMO very silly) argument that waiters need the tips to survive because they get paid minimum wage is voided in super high end places, since staff there is most certainly adequately paid. Additionally, it's a French restaurant with a French chef and French staff. I know for a fact that there is no percentage-based tipping culture in France, not in a cafe, not in a 3-star haute cuisine. 20% on a $2000 bill for example, that is just bonkers.

Friday, November 12, 2010 5:25:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I don't care for the tipping culture here either.

The general consensus is that you should still tip a normal amount. However, the percentage I give usually decreases as the price goes up. And what about tipping on alcohol? That can get even more absurd.

Monday, November 15, 2010 12:52:00 AM  
Anonymous kmannens said...

I don't care for the tipping culture here either. --> I was literally baffled when I first came here. If employees think they are not making enough money, they should take it up with their greedy employers, and not with their customers.

However, the percentage I give usually decreases as the price goes up.---> I like that. I tend to assume that staff in Michelin-starred (or similar) establishments are paid well enough to warrant only a European-style tip (i.e. a reasonable round-up of the bill.)

Monday, November 15, 2010 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin,
How much do u recommend tipping on a two 16-course meal? Can u also recommend a place for lunch in Vegas since so many Michelin star restaurants r closed for lunch.
Thanks!!
Josephine

Friday, July 15, 2011 1:42:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I would start out at the normal 20% or so and adjust from there.

For lunch, I don't know of anything high-end, but look into Oyster Bar at Palace Station, Hash House A Go Go, or maybe the "secret" pizzeria at the Cosmopolitan.

Saturday, July 16, 2011 3:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone knows where I can find or who i can contact to find the Swarovski chandelier? Please let me know

Sunday, August 14, 2011 4:09:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Interesting query there--you might want to contact the restaurant about that. I'm sure they can get you pointed in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 1:04:00 AM  
Blogger musicsaves2010 said...

I really loved how that beef dish was layed out. the beef was of such high quality, so its presented in a way that allows the diner to add the various components to the beef as they wish as opposed to the kitchen making those decisions for them. The only thing that I didnt like was that alot of the plates and such, where honestly a bit gaudy. The food itself looks amazing so I dont see the need for it. However, far be it for me to critisize Chef Robuchon!

Monday, August 29, 2011 7:03:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I definitely see your point about the gaudiness. All the rocks and various shiny things aren't necessary in my opinion either.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 1:35:00 AM  

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