Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another Evening with Joel Robuchon

To celebrate our two year wedding anniversary, Ray and I spent the evening at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon at the MGM Grand. Robuchon is an exciting chef whose food we have had before, and it was an easy decision to make reservations at his second establishment in Las Vegas.
To quote Robuchon's website, the concept of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon is "a kitchen opened on a circular bar with 36 seats that allows clients to follow the service, to watch the succession of dishes."

We've sat at the bar before, but this is an entirely different experience. From our perch, we had a unobstructed view of the action. For me, it was a dream of dinner entertainment, and even Ray couldn't help marveling at the precision and skill in front of us.

The chef de cuisine had the night off, so we got to see the chef de partie in charge. The intricate dance between him, the three cooks (including two women!) on the line, and three servers/runners, was seamless and fascinating to watch. Everything was calm and organized. The chef de partie had the enchanting heavy accent and slight bark of a Frenchman, but his care and friendliness came across when he personally came over to ask how things were.


Before our meal officially began, we received this beautiful amuse bouche. Beneath the white frothy crown lay a scrumptious pool of foie gras, rich and delicious like chocolate.

Presented on a porous stone (pumice? volcanic?) in a tiny egg cup, the two bites brought groans of delight from both of us.


Les Legumes Mediterranean vegetables with layered with buffalo mozzarella

This pretty tower of zucchini, tomato, and eggplant was fresh and liberally seasoned with salt and pepper to bring out the flavors. The dabs of pesto in the corners were brilliant with the vegetables. Despite the special buffalo mozzarella- don't get me wrong, the cheese was phenomenal- it was overshadowed by the flavor of the tomato and eggplant.


La Langoustine Crispy langoustine fritter with basil pesto

The only langoustines I'd had previously were frozen tails from Trader Joe's. They were good, but uncomparable to this whole, tender langoustine lightly fried in a bit of dough.
~I wondered out loud how to eat it (cut with fork and knife?); the chef de partie happened to be standing nearby and I will never forget his sly smile and accented "you can pick it up with your hands."~

Because of Ray's shellfish allergy, he received a different dish. This little tart with caramelized onions, ham, asparagus, and gruyere in pastry was perfect; you'd never know it was a substitute. Each flavor was strong in the little bite he gave me.

Next, we shared an additional course to our dinner, chosen from the small plates menu: a poached egg over buttered brioche with asparagus, mushrooms, and a bit of prosciutto. The foam on top of the egg was milky and salty-sweet. I really liked the egg, but the spring asparagus was so fresh. I always forget how much I love it, so seldom is it available.

We had two options for our third and main course, and per usual we picked opposites. We watched the chefs with anticipation as we saw both dishes being prepared and plated for us. Ray had the filet de boef, cooked perfectly medium rare with a light glaze and served with a tiny pot of mashed potatoes.

For me, Scottish salmon with lemon, capers, tomato jam, and crispy won tons. The fish was moist and tender with a crispy flavorful skin and just the right amount of capers and concentrated tomato.

I also received a little pot of mashed potatoes. A liberal amount of butter and cream in here, so really, really good.

After this, a well-timed pause allowed us to enjoy some of our wine and digest a little before our last courses. I forgot the noisy casino was right behind us- sitting in one of Joel Robuchon's restaurants feels like another world.

I love cheese, but I'm not a huge fan of the course; any room in my tummy should be saved for dessert. I did taste each of them, and unfortunately I don't remember the names. The far left cheese is a Brillat Savarin and the far right is a soft mild goat's milk. The middle cheese was my favorite and I cannot remember what it was at all!

Each was nice, but Ray the cheese connoisseur made a good point: they were too similar- the course should have had some variation with a hard cheese and even a blue.

With the cheese came a plate of breads: a plain sweet batard, a walnut raisin, and a hazelnut bread. My favorite was the hazelnut on top, it was positively studded with toasted nuts.

For the final dessert course, we had two choices.

For Ray~ Glaces et Sorbet

l to r: vanilla bean ice cream, strawberry sorbet, pistachio and creme fraiche ice cream, raspberry sorbet

For me~ Les Tartes! The pastry chef's choice of traditional tarts.

l to r: chocolate ganache, meyer lemon, strawberry, chocolate caramel, sweet cheese, burnt cinnamon-sugar

We tasted each other's, but happily preferred our own so we didn't have to share too much :-)

With dinner, we had a half-bottle of Rex Hill Pinot Noir, a familiar wine from Oregon that paired well with everything we ate (especially the cheese course). An unexpected gift on the house, we were presented with this chilled dessert wine from Australia to toast our anniversary.

A sweet end


Last March, we discovered Robuchon when we visited The Mansion with two other couples. The 16 course tasting menu over 4 hours was over-the-top magic. It was grand and (very) expensive, and the company was just as wonderful as the food.

Photography didn't belong, interrupting the atmosphere in an inappropriate way, so I only have a handful of pictures most of which came out too dark.
The one good food shot that night was of my selections from the famous candy cart (after the 16 courses!)


1 comment:

Erica said...

WOW- what an experience. This food looks like true art. I love buffalo mozzarella and the desserts look divine. I love small tastes of everything.