Joël Robouchon

July 13, 2011

Joël Robouchon

MGM Grand ~ Las Vegas

La Cerise

cherry gazpacho with sheep ricotta and pistachios

La Coriandre

duo of creamy avocado and coriander on spiced tomato pulp

Le Caviar

green asparagus with lemon balm and sevruga caviar

chilled velouté with panna cotta and ossetra caviar

maki of ground couscous topped with ossetra caviar

La Noix de Saint Jacques

seared scallop, heart of palm and scented coconut milk

Les Févettes

savory scented fava bean cream with sweet onion foam

Les Crustacés

truffled langostine ravioli

roasted lobster in broth

“chaud-froid” of sea urchin on fennel potato purée with anise orange

Le Turbot

turbot and artichoke en cocotte with barigoule jus

La Courgette

slow-cooked zucchini with fresh almonds, bacon and curry

Le Veau

sautéed veal chop with natural jus and pesto vegetable taglierini

Le Soja

risotto of soy bean, sprouts, lime zest and chives

La Mangue

Layered mango variations, strawberry gelée, almond cake

Le Caramel

Caramel parfait, hazelnut marjolaine, chocolate sauce

Mignardises

Weighing in at sixteen courses, this is one of the most generous tasting menus I have attempted and it did not disappoint. Even in the sin-biding situs of Las Vegas, I was not foolhardy enough to undertake the full suite of wine pairings – one wine for every two courses – leaving the food the center of attention, which is as it should be.  We had a 10 pm reservation and left the restaurant just shy of 1 am.  This is not a meal with which to trifle.  The extravagance will test both your wallet and your resolve.

Before delving into a dissection of the individual dishes, first, a note on my personal feelings about dining in Las Vegas – you cannot forget you are in Las Vegas – and, while I celebrate the dizzying diversity and bawdy boundlessness of Sin City, it can (and does) distract from the business of serious eating.  The food and sheer volume of décor did not disappoint, but I felt the service was not comme il faut.  It’s possible that I am simply spoilt beyond satisfaction, but this is my review and, in my opinion, the service was lacking.  The pacing of courses varied widely, some servers were somber, others jarringly jocular.  In short, the service was not the seamlessly efficient and careful shepherding I have been trained to expect in dining of this caliber.

The décor is ample.  I would be remiss if I did not catalogue a few of its most notable features.  The restaurant features a few separate dining rooms; the one in which we were seated is dominated by a massive crystal chandelier hung low and bright.  All else is purple.  Lilac drapes with swooping flourishes pool on aubergine carpet echoing the same curling superfluities.  The tables are scattered, inexplicably, with faux gems in crystal and pink and festooned with tidy bunches of bashful pink roses.  The plush plum banquettes host a clutter of violet pillows and the walls are papered in amethyst.  It is something else.  Thankfully, there is also the food.

Our meal began with champagne and a tour of the bread cart; the generosity of the décor reflected twice over in the variety and ambition of the burnished orbs, ovoids and batons tumbled higgledy-piggeldy – cheese puffs, bacon bread, basil and saffron rolls, brioche, French, sourdough and milk breads – a yeasty explosion of delights accompanied by a sizable curl of encouragingly golden butter.

The first course, an amuse bouche dubbed La Cerise, was startlingly red, refreshingly tart, and rich with ricotta.  It went down easy with no argument at all.  La Coriandre was perfectly acceptable if not a standout dish.  Le Caviar, however, is a signature offering – three dishes in one course, each incorporating the eponymous garnish.  The first was composed of two delicate asparagus tips, perfectly cooked, anointed with lemon oil and capped with glistening quenelles of caviar.  The second, was an elegant velouté cloaking panna cotta flavored with something I’m sure, but all I remember is the glorious salinity of more caviar.  The third, and least successful in my view, was a coarse cauliflower couscous rolled in nori and sealed at one end with a diminutive disk of still more caviar.  The nori was damp from its filling and difficult to chew, but again, there was still the elevating presence of caviar.  The La Noix de Saint Jacques scallop was next – a shy bite paved with the tiniest cut vegetable crust and dotted with a mist of white flowers.  It was delicious and gone too soon. Les Févettes was devilishly deceptive in its simplicity – a prim white bowl full of pillowed white onion foam atop which was poured a sprightly green fava soup pricked with micro-cubes of ham.  It was at once refined and deeply satisfying. Next up, Les Crustacés, composed again of three dishes.  The first was a truffled langostino ravioli was something special – meaty and tender and redolent of truffle – I would have happily eaten many more.  The second was a simple medallion of lobster resting in lobster broth with what I guess was saffron (and cognac?) – it was also delicious.  The third course was not so much hot-cold as cold-cold, which was disappointing.  We had been instructed to consume the three offerings in the order in which I’ve reviewed them, but by the time I got to this course, the warm component was no longer warm.  It still tasted good, so I’m not exactly complaining, but I didn’t experience it as was intended.  Le Turbot, ah, the turbot – this was one of my favorite courses – the fish was meltingly tender, the artichoke hearts endearingly piquant and the barigoule jus was the perfect complement.  I especially enjoyed the “punny” presentation – it was served in a bowl fashioned after a giant egg (gilded along its cracked edge, of course).  Next up, was La Courgette which I did not enjoy and which represents the one lowlight among many lovely courses.  The components were cooked correctly, but the bacon and curry combination didn’t work for me and the flavors felt overpowering after the delicacy and sophistication of the preceding course.  Le Veau, presented as the “main course,” was beautifully cooked and mercifully portioned – the bright summer pesto taglierini was a wonderful counterpoint to the unctuous honesty of the veal.  Le Soja, a “risotto” of fine chopped soy beans and mung bean sprouts was bursting with richness and had a wonderful umami component that I have to imagine was mushroom-induced, but I suppose I’ll never know.

And now, a brief pause before dessert.

La Mangue was delicious but not anything I haven’t seen before.  Le Caramel, on the other hand, was definitely my favorite course of the entire meal.  For starters, it was just beautiful to behold.  The mousse and marjolaine layers were housed in a compact chrysanthemum-shaped pastry mold dusted with a deep, rich red powder that gave the appearance of cherry velveteen – referencing the color of the opening course – it was art and I hardly wanted to eat it.  Happily, it was as successful on the palate as it was on the plate and I would have readily eaten several more.

Le Caramel

As was inevitable, the candy cart of mignardises rolled around and I did my best to put on a brave face, but by this point I was well and truly stuffed to the gills.  I managed to make my way through a bit of candied ginger dipped in dark chocolate and a tiny chocolate and caramel tartlet (finished with gold leaf, naturally).  The server – bless him – decided I should also take a pre-wrapped salted caramel “for later this evening.” Never mind that by then it was well after midnight.

It was a very special meal that I certainly relished.  I must confess it came at a price, so there is that to consider, but if you should ever find yourself on a winning streak in Las Vegas with cash to spare I would recommend you look into a reservation at Joël Robouchon.

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4 Responses to “Joël Robouchon”

  1. Uncle Rich Says:

    Thanks Nicole, that was fun. Sixteen courses…finally a meal designed just for me. *smile* Uncle Rich

  2. the dad Says:

    So what to do in Vegas after midnight with a full stomach? Sounds like lots of fun…. maybe one of those all night horse drawn carriage rides while the stomach settles…. or perhaps that would be a little too close behind the horse, come to think of it. Glad you had fun… see you soon. … the dad

  3. Aunt Sandy Says:

    I’ve resisted Las Vegas my whole adult life. Didn’t
    see any reason to go there and lose money. But,
    now when I win the lottery and can afford the meal
    I’ll definitely go for this. Great report. You
    made my stomach growl. XO Aunt Sandy

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