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Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

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Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

Postby Party Flavor » Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:18 pm

As Facebook friends know, a couple weeks ago, Jules and I took a trip back to the San Francisco Bay area, with a brief stop in Las Vegas. We've had tentative plans for a SF trip for some time, but its timing and the stopover in Las Vegas were dictated by an opportunity I'll detail later. The trip turned out to be pretty epic culinarily-speaking, so there are a few more threads like this to come...

Other than a mild interest in a couple of its restaurants, Las Vegas has never really appealed to me. Until recently, even those weren't enough for me to put it on my itinerary. As a result, forty-eight hours was plenty of time for us to take in some sights between meals...

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Before this year, the Vegas restaurant that most interested me was Joël Robuchon in the MGM Grand (previously, and sometimes still, referred to as "Joël Robuchon at the Mansion"). Robuchon is pretty much a cooking god. He was named "Chef of the Century" and his restaurants hold more Michelin stars than those of any other chef. His namesake restaurant in Vegas holds three stars (the maximum), and has earned a bunch of other awards.

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As soon as we confirmed our Vegas travel plans, I made a reservation at Robuchon. As time went on, I started to read more about it in anticipation. Unfortunately, I found a lot of very mixed reviews. It seemed that people either loved it or hated it (or were at least very disappointed) and that the number of average or below-average reviews was far too high for a restaurant of its supposed caliber. I don't mind paying for a great meal, but I'd like it to be more of a sure thing. Given that our total bill for the degustation menu there would have been in the neighborhood of $1500, I decided that it wasn't a gamble I was willing to take.

Instead, we chose to go to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, which is next door to its more formal big brother. "L'Atelier" translates as "The Workshop," and it's largely set up so that diners can sit at a bar and watch the chefs at work in its open kitchen. Its reviews were very good and much more consistent than those of the namesake restaurant. On food/travel boards, there are a lot of threads comparing the two, with L'Atelier getting quite a bit of support. If you watch FN's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," you may have recently seen Food & Wine's Gail Simmons wax poetic about its most famous dish, La Langoustine.

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We decided to do the Menu Decouverte de Saison (Seasonal Discovery Menu)...

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L'Amuse-Bouche: Avocado and cilantro flavored grapefruit gelee

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Les Tomates: Heirloom tomato salad, basil oil, and fleur de sel. I'm not a big tomato fan, but even I liked this. Beautiful dish!

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Les Huitres: Poached baby Kussi oysters with French Échiré butter. Hot, but delicately cooked. A nice change from cold oysters on the half-shell.

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La Langoustine (Crispy langoustine fritter with basil pesto) was an à la carte item, but we knew we had to try it so we supplemented the menu. Totally worth it!

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Le Crab Royal: King crab à la plancha, vegetables with lemongrass oil

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L'Asperge: Green asparagus kebab with quail egg "mirror," shimeji and Ibérico ham. I really loved the plating here.

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La Sole: Sole filet and baby leeks, buttery shellfish sauce with lime and ginger

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L'Agneau: Lamb shoulder confit with eggplant compote and mashed potatoes

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La Caille: Foie gras stuffed free-range quail with mashed potatoes. Seriously, how could that be bad?

(Robuchon is most famous for his pommes purée. One bite is all that's needed to see why.)

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La Fraise: Mascarpone panna cotta topped with fresh strawberries, balsamic ice cream

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La Mûre: Blackberry compote with spice cake, rhubarb sorbet. Another great plate.

I'm really glad we wound up at L'Atelier. The food was great and the experience was a lot of fun. The couple next to us said it's the one place in Vegas they come back to time and again. Pretty easy to understand why.

More Vegas to come...
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Re: Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

Postby Chef Mongo » Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:32 am

The oysters just about made me take a bite out of my screen. I'm an oyster freak, and those look and sound incredible.

From what our Vegas site personnel have said, you made the right choice. The difficulties at the flagship seem to be mostly front-of-the-house in nature, but those can spoil a meal just as much as bad food.
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Re: Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

Postby chefshawn » Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:36 pm

how were the mashed potatoes?

they are the bain (bane?) of prep cooks around the world.
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Re: Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

Postby Party Flavor » Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:24 pm

Impossibly smooth and much, much lighter in texture than you might expect. It's so rich with butter that it tastes slightly of cheese (I suppose the butter is cultured).
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Re: Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

Postby ghenne » Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:02 am

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Love this pic.

Is that hand blown glass?
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Re: Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

Postby ghenne » Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:02 am

Image

Love this pic.

Is that hand blown glass?
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Re: Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

Postby Jules » Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:14 am

It is, Lisa, and it's quite lovely. I've taken maaaaaaaaaany pics of it using various crappy cameras so when PF started to take a shot, I told him not to be too disappointed if it didn't show well.

:oops:

More info on Dale Chihuly's glass sculpture "Fiori di Como" in the lobby of the Bellagio found here.
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Re: Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

Postby ghenne » Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:54 am

Jules wrote:It is, Lisa, and it's quite lovely. I've taken maaaaaaaaaany pics of it using various crappy cameras so when PF started to take a shot, I told him not to be too disappointed if it didn't show well.

:oops:

More info on Dale Chihuly's glass sculpture "Fiori di Como" in the lobby of the Bellagio found here.


Oops double post!
Ahhhh, now that I think of it my parents took a photo of that when they were at the Bellagio. It didn't come out so well. I kept looking at it saying...where have I seen this before? Thanks for the link!
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Re: Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

Postby Slamdunkpro » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:07 am

If you don't get to Vegas he also did The Borgata's lobby in Atlantic City.
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Re: Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

Postby ghenne » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:22 am

Slamdunkpro wrote:If you don't get to Vegas he also did The Borgata's lobby in Atlantic City.


I'm going to Atlantic City next weekend as a matter of fact!
Will have to check that out! Thanks!
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Re: Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

Postby beenie » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:35 am

I adore Chihuly!

The food looks amazing, too. ;)
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Re: Vegas/CA Trip - L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (pics)

Postby Party Flavor » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:50 am

There's a Chihuly exhibit in Boston for the next month. I believe Pixietoes mentioned on Facebook that she's going.
An opinionated non-authority, petit four lover, and backward telescope aficionado

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When a chef tells me he is cooking with his grandmother's recipe, I always wonder why. Did talent skip the past two generations?
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