Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Las Vegas: L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Last week, luck has it that Marc was traveling to Las Vegas to work at a client site, MGM Grand. This was my second trip to Las Vegas this month after coming back from Wisconsin and Chicago the week prior. Joël Robuchon was simply not on the radar since I essentially booked my flight the night before.

On my last night in Las Vegas (last Sunday), we initially had plans to have dinner at Rao's in Caesar's Palace. Unfortunately, Marc was unable to make it due to work issues so I had to dine alone. Soon I realized that I couldn't eat Italian food all by myself so I walked down to the casino floor to scope out my options.

1. Dining alone.
2. Not in a rush for time.
3. The meal needs to be memorable.

Answer: Joël Robuchon

Lady luck was on my side when I went to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon as they were accepting walk-ins. I figured this meal can be a precursor to booking a reservation at its much bigger restaurant, Joel Robuchon at the Mansion, during my birthday weekend next March.

In 2003, Joël Robuchon ("Mr. Chef of the Century") introduced a new concept of dining. During his travels to Asia, specifically Japan, Robuchon was facinated by the traditional way sushi was served at counter style by master chefs.

From its elegant presentation of each order to the wonderful flavors and ambiance of a sushi bar, thus L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon was born.

The concept was a kitchen opened on a circular bar with 36 seats allowing diners to follow the service and watch the succession of dishes as well as composing their own meal based on their appetite.

The menu consists of classic French dishes in small, tapas-style portions. The staff is attentive yet casual. The service adheres to its highest standards, nothing less than what you'll find at a 3-star restaurant. High-quality cuisine in a friendly, unpretentious environment (Source: Joël Robuchon).

The kitchen at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas is manned by Executive Chef, Steve Benjamin, whom also worked the kitchen at its Paris location (seen above on the left).

As soon as you are seated, you are given several menus to customize your meal. I chose the Menu Decouverte (aka Discovery Menu). It's a 9-course prix fixe menu, but you can add additional courses from its la carte menu. Click here for an enlarged version.

I started off with cocktails rather than a wine pairing at each course.

From top to bottom:
  • Framboise Mojito - $15
  • El Dolche - $15
  • Glass of Banylus - $22

House made pain de epi with savory butter (not pictured)

Foie gras parfait with port wine and parmesan foam

Le Crabe Royal
King crab on a turnip disc with a sweet and sour sauce

La Saint-Jacques
Sea scallop cooked in the shell with chive oil

La Cebette
White onion tart with smoked bacon and grilled mushrooms

Le Foie Gras
Duck foie gras with confit quince and yuzu

La Sole
Dover sole filet, baby leek with ginger

Add on: Le Burger - $32.00
Beef and foie gras burgers with caramelized bell peppers

La Caille
Foie gras stuffed free-range quail with truffled-mashed potatoes

Le Pamplemousse
Grapefruit infused with Prosecco, lychee sorbet

Chocolate cake cremeux layered with espresso ice cream and roasted almonds

After thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised and amazed with the meal. The Le Burgers (beef & foie gras burgers) were one of the highlights of the meal as well as the desserts. Simple ingredients and not too flashy. Who would have thought grapefruit would be delicious as a dessert.

I think the best part of the whole experience was the service. My server Eric S. was friendly and very accommodating by anticipating my every request. Decisions were made easy and when I wasn't sure what cocktails or wines to pair, he was there to guide me.

At the end, Chef Steve Benjamin was kind enough to sign my menu in front of me (ok, not exactly in front of me) but I can clearly see him spending the time signing it and handing it to me in person which was a nice touch to memorable evening.

It was probably the first time I've seen an Executive Chef standing before me more than once. Ok, maybe the VIPs sitting next to me helped. But still, it was a memorable experience and I would definitely come back. Maybe sooner than later since we're spending the Christmas holiday in...Vegas!

Now the question is, how do we get VIP status? :)

Things to know:
  • Average tasting menus start at $75 while the menu decorverte is $148. The worthwhile option: go with the Menu Decorverte.
  • In a rush? The L'Unique menu is a 3-course menu for $39 and served within 15 minutes. Available daily until 6:45pm.
  • Feeling lucky and don't like what you see on the Menu Decorverte? Create your own from the Ala Carte menu. Note: Le Burger costs $32 which includes two burgers and fries.
  • The restaurant has a large array of wine selections by the glass. Don't be afraid to ask.
  • Reservations are highly recommended for the high season (e.g. fight nights, holidays, etc). Show up early to guarantee a seat.
  • The restaurant is open daily from 5:30pm to 10:30pm Sun-Thur and 5:00pm to 10:30pm Fri-Sat.
  • Don't rely on the online reservation system. It may show a packed house but it may not be. Call the Concierge desk or walk over to the restaurant.
  • The restaurant is located near the KA Theatre, across from Wolfgang Puck's Bar & Grill at the MGM Grand. Walk toward the High Limit Slots section and Nobhill Tavern.
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
3799 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Website: http://www.joel-robuchon.com/


Robyn said...

I love L'Atalier! Probably one of my favorite tastings. But wow, they really raised the prices. The first time I dined there the tasting was $105, and the second time was $125. Ah well, I'd still go back...

Vivian said...

yum! great post! I can't wait to go back to vegas to check this place out. Last time i went, I enjoyed Michael Mina's very very much!


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