Joel Robuchon (Las Vegas)

Joel Robuchon, in the MGM Grand, is Vegas’ only Michelin-rated 3 star restaurant. My expectations when I went here were decidedly high.

The interior of the restaurant is one of the most opulent I have ever seen: rich purple velvet couches covered with cushions, an elaborate chandelier, huge mirrors, gold decorations. It was at once both overwhelmingly rich and surprisingly cozy, having seating for maybe 50-60 people at capacity.

We were seated at a lovely corner table and brought glasses of champagne. We had decided on the 16-course Menu Degustation long before our arrival.

One thing I have to make note of is the service. It was impeccable. During my time there I was waited on by at least 8 different servers, and a sommelier. I think the ratio of staff to diners was almost 1:1. Neither my water or wine glass ever got close to being empty and someone was always close by whenever we needed anything. The food was brought out at an excellent pace. It wasn’t at all rushed, but we also were never kept waiting too long. Towards the end of the meal the wait staff seemed to know when I was starting to get full and gave a little extra time between courses.

Before any of the courses were brought out, one of the waiters came around with the bread cart. Yes, bread cart. It was amazing and I’m upset I didn’t remember to take a picture (you can see one here though). Of the dozen different breads available I tried two: bacon bread and Gruyere brioche. The bacon bread was fantastically flavourful and the brioche was soft and delicious. I wanted to try more but I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat my meal if I did. After the bread cart came the first course.

Le Caviar – Caviar with fennel cream and crab meat

The crab meat was sweet and creamy and complimented perfectly by the briny caviar. I love the way caviar bursts in your mouth, this was an excellent start to the meal that really whet my appetite for the courses to come.

Palette aux Saveurs Estivales – tomato mozzarella gelee with basil and olive oil, almond blancmange with vegetable medley, chilled cilantro gazpacho

I started off with the tomato gelee. It was the most intense, fresh-tasting tomato I’ve ever had. The mozzarella inside the tomato complimented it well and balanced the acidity with creamy smoothness. This was one of my favorites of the meal. The blancmange was delicate and nicely punctuated by the freshness of the asparagus and tomatoes served with it.  The cilantro gazpacho on the other hand I was not a fan of. Cilantro has a very strong, bitter taste and does not, in my opinion, make a good primary ingredient. It was one of the few misses of the meal.

L’Oeuf – Quail egg yolk and herb ravioli with spinach sprouts and chanterelles

I loved this. Cutting into the ravioli, the quail egg was perfectly runny and rich. The chanterelles were amazingly flavourful and the spinach foam added an interesting texture. The combination of the three flavours was heavenly.

La Grenouille – Crispy frog leg, garlic and parsley puree and tempura vegetables

This was my first time eating frog leg and I enjoyed it. Of course, I think I’d enjoy most things after they were covered in garlic slices and fried to crispy perfection.

Les Crustacés – Flan of sea urchin with mocha foam, roasted lobster on cauliflower with green curry, herb flavoured coral broth

Sea urchin is another food I had never tried before. It had the strangest texture – not bad strange, just completely unexpected. It was light and airy while tasting quite rich. The mocha foam added a nice kick. The lobster was a little on the tough side. The coral broth was tasty, the best part was the shrimp dumpling.

La Chataigne – Chestnut veloute with foie gras and smoked lardons foam

I’m not generally a big fan of soup, but this was delicious. It was rich and creamy with chunks of bacon providing a nice, smoky flavour. I really wanted more.

L’Os a Moelle – Bone marrow, sweetbreads and vegetable ragout with corn and ginger

Another excellent course. The bone marrow was surprisingly light and very tasty. The sweetbreads were excellent, and the corn gave a nice sweetness and crunch to the dish.

Le Bar – Pan-fried sea bass with a lemongrass emulsion and stewed baby leeks

Sea bass is my favorite fish but I didn’t care for this preparation. I found the lemon flavours overwhelmed the fish.

Le Veau – Sauteed veal chop with natural jus and vegetable tagliernis flavored with pesto, roasted garlic

The veal was flavourful, perfectly tender and practically melted in my mouth. Combined with the roasted garlic and pasta it was absolutely gorgeous. I also really loved the presentation of this dish.

Les Racines et Pousses d’Ici – Spring root and sprout vegetables with Argan oil

An excellent way to wrap up the savoury dishes, these vegetables were light, sweet and crisp. I even ate the brussel sprout.

La Framboise – Pistachio cream, raspberries infused with Lillet and rose sabayon

Creamy pistachio custard; plump, tart raspberries; airy, not too sweet sabayon, topped with a delightfully fresh-tasting strawberry sorbet. This was a delicious balance of flavours and textures. My favorite of the desserts.

Le Caramel – Caramel parfait, chocolate poppy sable, light coffee mousse

At the end of such a large meal this was a little too rich for me. The coffee mousse was very nice but I found the rest of the dish very heavy.

Mignardises

Once all the courses were finished, a waiter brought around a cart of at least two dozen varieties of bite-sized desserts. My favorite was the strawberry cheesecake wrapped in white chocolate.

This was the most decadent, over-the-top meal I’ve ever had. Although there were a couple dishes that didn’t quite work for me, the ones that did were outstanding in both taste and presentation. This was a very expensive meal, but I’m glad to have experienced it. If you want to impress a foodie, take them to Joel Robuchon.

(This review is from October 2010)

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