HOME > Chowhound > Southwest >

Discussion

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Las Vegas

No words can adequately describe L'Atellier de Joel Robuchon -- yet that is what one must attempt to do, so . . .

Nestled with the MGM Grand Hotel, we arrived on time for our reservation and were seated within moments to our seats in the center of the bar -- perfect for watching all of the "action" in the kitchen.

The decor is stylish, simultaneously elegant, enticing, and exciting. The staff very attentive without being smothering. And the food . . . the food . . . The tasting menu was simply outstanding -- and this was the best meal I've had since we were in Paris . . . truly spectacular in every detail.

I cannot recommend this restaurant highly enough. It's that simple.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. My wife and I have eaten there 4 times and totally agree with your review. The only cavet is to look carefully at the wine by the glass price before ordering. We were a bit surprised at a $400 bill (before tip) for two because we got carried away with the wine, We limit ourselves to two glasses of wine a piece now.

    2 Replies
    1. re: John Lowrey

      It's much less expensive to do a bottle, even though -- as has been pointed out -- there are no bargains on that list (merely some bottles which are less otrageously priced than others).

      1. re: John Lowrey

        haha, I've made the same mistake myself. I'm a total wine lover and completely neglected to see how much it was going to be! Luckily by the time the bill came, I was already a bit smashed so I would pay just about anything.

      2. My DW and I are going on Thursday. Any dish in particular blow you away or any advice? Thanks.

        4 Replies
        1. re: bgut1

          If it's your first time I'd highly recommend doing the tasting menu. We've done it twice now (with several changes in the menu between visits) and it's truly excellent. What I find is that there are several things which you might never order or whose menu description simply doesn't do complete justice to the outstanding execution.

          The wine prices - both glass and bottle - are regretfully outrageous.

          1. re: Frodnesor

            Thanks for the advice Frodnesor. I will stay away from the wine.

            1. re: bgut1

              I'm not necessarily saying stay away (I don't!), just be careful out there.
              Since you were asking about particular dishes, I'm linking here to my report on our visit last year. I expect that several items on the tasting menu have changed.
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/353029

              1. re: bgut1

                I would NEVER recommend staying away from wine. Just pay attention and "be careful out there."

          2. Without wine - how much do you think a meal for 2 would cost? I am trying to decide if I can swing this spot or not!

            23 Replies
            1. re: MaggieMuffin

              I think the tasting menu is about $125. Can do a la carte but suspect you end up paying about the same.

              1. re: MaggieMuffin

                Yup, $125 per, and you really don't save very much by ordering a la carte.

                1. re: zin1953

                  zin1953 - I just returned from my trip to LV/Phoenix and must report that my meal at L'Atelier was the most disappointing of all. Where do I begin? We had reservations for 10 PM on a Thursday (after a show). At that hour, the restaurant was half full. I was disappointed to find two things upon our arrival. First, we were seated somewhere along the back of the "bar" and didn't have a great view of the kitchen. Second, due to the late hour, the discovery tasting menu was no longer available requiring us to spend quite a bit more on our meal to experience the breadth of the food. Please note, that I was not advised of this limitation when making the reservation. While there were some highlights (as in the mashed potatoes, a beautiful filet au pouive, and the assortment of tartes) there were more disappointments (the famous brix wrapped langoustine was greasy, the rouge thon and the crab were too simplistic). I was expecting quite more for the expense of this meal. Other issues were the delay in delivering desserts. They delivered my DW's literally ten minutes before mine due to the fact that they failed to write happy anniversary on my plate. Other issues include breaking down and cleaning the kitchen half way through our meal and the cooks munching on left overs while cooking our meals (don't they have a house meal?). These items are unacceptable at restaurant of that caliber. I am writing a letter to the management to express my displeasure. Contrast this experience with the most magnificent meal (probably the best of my life) the next evening at Binkley's in Cave Creek, AZ for half the price. Sorry, but I just don't see it.

                  1. re: bgut1

                    You don't have to see it. I wasn't there on the night that you were. Not only does EVERY restaurant have an off night, but some people love restaurants that other people do not. Also, I wasn't starting my meal as they were winding up their night.

                    I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your meal as much as we did. But I don't doubt for a minute the truthfulness of your report, and the disappointment of your experience . . . any more than, I hope, you accept the truthfulness and excitement of mine.

                    Jason

                    1. re: zin1953

                      Good point Jason. I don't doubt you had an excellent meal.

                      1. re: zin1953

                        The experience should be just as flawless at the end of the night as it is in the beginning. Breaking down and cleaning the kitchen in front of people paying $200pp is inexcusable. They should wait until people have left...doing stuff like that is unprofessional. They're basically saying "go away, you're bothering us."

                        1. re: elrushbo

                          Thanks elrushbo. I'm glad I'm not alone feeling the way I do.

                          1. re: elrushbo

                            And therein lie the DISadvantages of an open kitchen . . . do you pay "x" number of people overtime for staying one - one-and-a-half - two hours later than when their shift is scheduled to end, and have them stand around doing nothing? or do they begin their breakdown and cleaning? (And let's face it -- they're cleaning al the time. What chef, sous chef or cook has a messy "mise en place"?)

                            I don't know -- in a "regular" restaurant (closed kitchen), I, too, would be upset were they vacuuming and turning chairs upside-down. But breaking down the kitchen . . . I don't know. Certainly if I was smelling bleach! But . . . who knows? As I said earlier, I wasn't there that night.

                            Remember, that bgut1 arrived for dinner at a late hour, didn't like the seats, and states, "Second, due to the late hour, the discovery tasting menu was no longer available." It sounds to me that the evening's experience was "doomed" from start. <shrug>

                            Jason

                            1. re: zin1953

                              Jason - I don't think that one item in itself doomed the evening. Instead it was the totality of the circumstances which ruined the night. In fact, if all that was wrong was the seating and the menu I would have been more the satisfied. As far as the late hour was concerned, I specifically inquired when I made the reservation whether there would be any issues due to the time of the seating. I was specfically advised that there would be none and that it was quite common for people to eat late in Vegas. I also confirmed with the reservationist that my wife and I would celebrating our wedding anniversary. Further, it is incumbent on a restaurant in accepting any reservation, to provide the same uniform level of service and food to all patrons irrespective of the hour.

                              1. re: bgut1

                                As I said above, I wasn't there than night, and every restaurant has an off-night.

                                *****
                                Restaurant August, for example, in New Orleans screwed up our reservations -- seated us 45 minutes late (several other parties left the bar after getting fed up waiting), AND they screwed up MY wedding anniversary dessert, too. That said, I've had four outstanding meals there, and now, one disappointment. Will I go back? Probably, but the service and experience were disappointing enough for me to write a letter to John Besh . . . just as I (frequently) do when the experience was outstanding.

                                *****
                                >>> As far as the late hour was concerned, I specifically inquired when I made the reservation whether there would be any issues due to the time of the seating. I was specfically advised that there would be none and that it was quite common for people to eat late in Vegas. <<<

                                Added information you didn't provide in your first post. Having checked on precisely that sort of thing PRIOR to making the reservation, I would be EXTREMELY disappointed, too . . . and would write a letter to "the powers that be" in that case, just as I did with August.

                                1. re: zin1953

                                  Jason - I'll leave it at this. While I agree that every restaurant has an off night, being "off" usually applies to the preparation of the food not the general tenor of the service. Here management clearly has no issue breaking down the kitchen (and when I mean breaking down they took everything down including many of the displays) as well as permiting their kitchen staff (including the chef) to munch on leftovers while cooking. Putting aside the fact that I don't want to see the person who is cooking my meal eating, there is definitely hygene issues involved (i.e. using the same hand to touch my food that brought food to their mouth). Trust me, I've had "off" nights at restaurants. But what troubles me here is the complete lack of management for a restaurant of this caliber and price. BTW, I have written to the general manager (obviously in more detail to the above post) and will be more than happy to share his response.

                              2. re: zin1953

                                They should NOT be breaking down or doing their evening cleaning while they are still open. I'd expect that in a McDonald's, not at Le Atelier. The service and experience should be uniform when open. The full menu should be available, with the $$ they charge they should be able to afford to have kitchen staff to clean after closing.

                          2. re: bgut1

                            Unfortunately I have to agree 100 percent with you. I had a similar experience at the end of September. A few dishes were excellent however many missed the mark. We ate at 9 and towards the end of the meal the kitchen started cleaning everything up and eating as they went. This was unacceptable and I chalked it up to an off night. Having read your take my disappointment is hardened. When the theme of your dining experience is an open kitchen, and it is a Joel Robuchon restaurant I expect near perfection. Food quality can differ to some extent; however there is no excuse for bad service. In addition to the cleaning our final two courses were spaced out 15-20 minutes apart—the waiter started his after dinner chores. I would be happy to try it again, but next time I think I will do it on someone else's dime.

                            1. re: amorgs

                              I have eaten there four times and the last time I walked in at 9:20 with out any of the issues that you or BGUT had. My meals there have all been great and Atelier is one place I try not to miss when travelling to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, things can happen and I would be interested to hear what the restaurants response would be Emmanuel Cornet is the General Manager of Atelier ecornet@lv.mgmgrand.com

                              1. re: Molto E

                                Thanks Molto E. I will email Mr. Cornet and let you know of his response. I'm sure you are happy to read that my dinner at Binkley's was fabulous. :)

                                1. re: bgut1

                                  I am glad that you enjoyed it...see you felt about the same as I do about a couple other spots as well ;)

                                  1. re: Molto E

                                    For those of you following my saga, I wanted to let you know I received a timely response from the restaurant manager, Emmanuel Cornet. While the gentleman was appropriately apologetic and did advise that he would review this matter with the staff so "this would not happen again", I am somewhat disappointed with the response. I was hoping that since I took the time to identify the issues that I would receive a little bit more than this generic "canned" email. I seriously doubt any of the items complained about will actually change. While I am happy that he took the initiative to refund me an undisclosed amount to my credit card, the better way to have handled the situation and to save me as a future customer would have been to invite me and my wife to dinner at the NYC L'Atelier and see to it that I experience the meal the way it should have been. Please note that I would not be expecting a full comp, only the amount I assume they credited my CC to begin with. Again, not a bad response as I am appreciative of the gesture however, I was expecting a little more. Not to be ingrateful but I am quite sure that I'll never dine at another Robuchon restaurant. Thanks to all for your comments and responses and I hope that if you do dine at L'Atelier that you have a better meal and experience than I and my wife. Be well.

                                    1. re: bgut1

                                      Did you communicate that you'd prefer a restaurant credit?

                                      While I have no idea what the ownership relationship is between NY and LV, I suspect that if they could, any restaurant would vastly prefer to do a credit instead of a cash refund. After all, they have a profit margin built in.

                                      On the other hand, most dissatisfied customers would typically regard getting a cash refund as preferable to a credit which they could only realize by revisiting the restaurant that disappointed them.

                                      1. re: Frodnesor

                                        No I didn't Frodnesor. I wasn't expecting the credit to begin with.

                                      2. re: bgut1

                                        bgut...did you ask if you could switch the amount off your bill to a credit towards a NYC Atelier meal? How would he know that is what you would have preferred? He did reply to your letter and he tried do something for you so to say that you will never eat at another Robuchon again is pretty tough.

                                        Molto E

                                        Molto E

                                        1. re: Molto E

                                          Molto E - I don't think I'm being tough at all. My wife and I had one evening in LV to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We choose this restaurant based on the excellent reviews and numerous suggestions from members on this board. The service, food and in turn the experience was horrible. I wrote to Mr. Cornet a very detailed account of my experience and hoped for an explanation. While I appreciate the reply, apology and a promised partial refund (which I have yet to receive one week later) I had hoped for a little more. I too am in the service industry and I'm in the business of keeping customers. Money is not the issue here and I have found that refunds don’t usually cut it when you’re trying to keep customers. The experience is the key and that’s what keeps customers coming back and telling all their friends. I would have rather Mr. Cornet acknowledge their deficiencies and rather show me what the true L'Atelier experience was supposed to be making all efforts to give me and my wife the "special" night we were expecting and had paid for. To be honest, the apology and the refund really doesn't make it up to me and therefore in good conscious I cannot either return or recommend this or any other Robuchon restaurant. I’m sorry if we disagree.

                                          1. re: bgut1

                                            Bgut- Believe me, I understand that you will not get that anniversary meal back and with the expectations that you had, the outcome was not what you signed up for. At the end of your meal, did you bring up any of your issues with your server? Any restaurant can have a glitch on a night or at any point during service, based on my meals at Robuchon's restaurants and Jamin with his protege, I would not write them off.

                                            1. re: Molto E

                                              Molto - I didn't bring it to anyone's attention. To be quite honest due the late hour we were both tired and I also didn't want to embarrass my wife by doing so. The first time I brought it to anyone's attention was by my email last week to Mr. Cornet. Believe me, just like you and the other members of this board, I eat out a lot and have had my fair share of disappointing meals. While I regret having them, I usually move on and chalk it up to a bad night (especially if the restaurant has received critical acclaim like L'Atelier). What "rubs me the wrong way" is the philosphy of the establishment. The food being "off" is one thing. Having a policy to breakdown the kitchen while diners are in the middle of their meals or munching on left overs while cooking our food is another. While I can understand such actions at my local greasy spoon, same are completely unacceptable at a Michelin starred establishment charging over $200 a head for dinner. As evidenced by other posters, this conduct is condoned if not directed by management. I'm sure most diners arrive early enough to not be exposed to these situations however, if management permits this to occur in front of guests, what else do they allow to happen? To me these issues are too much for me to accept and therefore I do not wish to dine there ever again.

                        2. I have reservations for the day after Christmas! It's our only free day away from the relatives to dive into the gastronomic excess that is Las Vegas. I read the contributions to this topic with considerable interest. As far as the faux-pas committed by the l'Atelier's kitchen, I guess it's one of those things like, if a tree falls in the forest, do you hear it falling? What I mean is, this is an open kitchen, and Robuchon's intent was to create a "workshop" atmosphere blurring the rigid lines between kitchen and customer. If it's near closing time, I guarantee you every kitchen in every restaurant starts cleaning up. Last year, my wife and I had a late dinner at Daniel Boloud Brasserie at the Wynn in Vegas. The staff was very kind enough to give us a tour of the kitchen, where I saw the chef munching on some olives and kitchen staff wiping down equipment. None of this is visible to the guests, obviously. But did it offend me to see this going on? Not in the slightest. It would be one thing if someone starting spraying Windex at a nearby table while I was still eating. It's another to watch a kitchen, basically behind a fish bowl at the l'Atelier, doing whatever it does every night. Anyway, I reserve further opinions until after I tried this place out and witness all of this myself!

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: OCKevin

                            When it's an open kitchen, it's different. When people can't see the kitchen, I'm sure all sorts of things go on that wouldn't in an open kitchen. People are paying for the experience at Le Atelier of seeing the open kitchen, if they're going to have an open kitchen where people can see, especially one where people sit so close to the kitchen, they can't act like they would if people can't see. I'd expect the same experience at a $200pp restaurant no matter what time my reservation is and a committment to flawless service at all times. This guy's experience is akin to if you went to, say, Nobhill for a 10pm res and the staff started vacuuming the floor while you were eating.That, and the full menu should be available if they're taking reservations-we're not talking about KFC here with pissy minimum wage earning workers trying to get home asap. I'd be pi$$ed if I showed up and couldn't order what I wanted. One might have a totally different experience if you went to Le Atelier at 7

                            1. re: elrushbo

                              My husband and I only ate at L'Atelier once and we didn't enjoy it very much, mostly having to do with snotty service, but the food was overly fussy too (and perhaps I'm not sophisticated enough in that regard, and opinions will differ). One of the issues I had was that too many people had their fingers in our food. You can definitely see that in an open kitchen situation. Often we request to sit at a counter overlooking the kitchen, because we like to watch the cooking. Last time we sat at the counter at Rosemary's and loved it, in fact we have requested the counter again for our upcoming visit next week. I mean to say that over the years we have watched our food being prepared on countless occasions, yet our one visit to L'Atelier evoked discomfort where there really hadn't been any before. Reading this thread hasn't made me any more likely to give it another try, that's for sure!

                              1. re: Debbie W

                                I sat at the Chef's Bar at Avenues in Chicago last summer and it was an incredible, flawless experience! I really felt like it was a better experience than if I had sat at a table. I've heard from many people whose opinions I trust that the food at Le Atelier is great, but I've seen lots of complaints over their service. For me, if I hot the lottery, I might try them, but I get to go to a couple nice restaurants on a trip to Vegas, which is less than once a year. It better be perfect in food and service if I'm shelling out the big bucks. I've heard nothing but praise for Fleur De Lys at Mandalay Bay, I'd go there for under $500pp French over Le Atelier any day.

                                1. re: elrushbo

                                  As for any moderately famous restaurant in Las Vegas, I've seen numerous complaints about Fleur de Lys. That's not to say it isn't great, but as with L'Atelier some people have had unhappy experiences. I've also seen scathing reviews for Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Alex, Picasso, and many others. I think the best a reader can do is: read many reviews of many restaurants by many people; figure out which reviewers have tastes similar to the reader; rely on those kindred spirits' reviews. Not easy!!!

                                  I've been to L'Atelier five times. Of those times, one meal was disappointing because it was merely very good, and I had come to expect excellence. The rest were well worth the price.

                                2. re: Debbie W

                                  It may be a bit surprising to see a cook's hands on the food but it happens all the time. Indeed given the high level of "detail work" on a number of the dishes at Atelier it's hard to imagine how else it could be done.

                                  We eat at kitchen bars all the time and certainly some kitchens are more "hands on" than others. Reminds me of a time that I ate at the kitchen bar at Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe. There was one line cook who basically did everything with his hands, and I mean pretty much everything but knife-work -- scooped butter to put in the saute pan, flipped meats, felt them for doneness, plated ... he must have had hands made of teflon, and the fact is there's no better way to check a steak for doneness.

                                  Returning to Atelier, I can fully understand why people paying $125+ a head for a meal feel the experience should be perfect - and it should be. But I also think that some complaints are more justified than others. As for not having the full menu available, I agree that's wrong - if the restaurant is taking the reservation at that hour, they should be prepared to serve their menu (unless they've specifically advised the customer when they made the reservation that the full menu wasn't available).

                                  As for breaking down the kitchen or nibbling food, this doesn't bother me nearly as much, particularly given the nature of the place. It's designed as an open kitchen and is intended to be less formal, more casual. If you don't want to see what happens in a real kitchen, you probably shouldn't go to a place that is set up this way.

                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                    It wasn't that it was surprising to see the cooks' hands at L'Atelier in our food. I think it was the extent of it, because of the nature of their food and especially the presentation of the dishes which couldn't have been achieved otherwise. I had the tasting menu and my husband had some a la carte dishes, so we went through a lot of plates. Like I said, we've seen our food prepared at all kinds of places at home in L.A., at restaurants in New York, in Vegas. Plus, I cook, and my fingers are all over our food at home. I'm still building up my teflon lining though.

                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                      Frodnesor - I don't have a problem with cooks using their hands while cooking. I do however have a problem with cooks using the same hands to shovel food in their mouth and then touch my food. Hands are great tools as long as they are clean.

                                3. re: OCKevin

                                  I have no problem if the staff is tasting or nibbling on goodies when closing up...if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.
                                  I've worked in enough kitchens, dated enough chefs, and been in enough kitchens at ner closing and there is nothing better then nibbling on some of the fabulous goodies that are hanging around.
                                  The "workshop" appeal is what it's all about. If you've ever been backstage of a show, you'll know how "unglamourous" it is...nothing is glamourous about having on of the lighting guys help you pull on another pair of tights during a quick change while he holds a flashilight in his mouth, but that's the sh!t that happens in the real world (I was a dancer for many years and my friends would laugh when they'd come to watch the show from back stage...for some, it killed the magic of a gloriuos production, for others, it fascinated them some more..to each his/her own).
                                  The "workshop" experience is not for everyone and that's fine with me since then I know there will always be room for me when I go back to L"Atelier for my 6th visit.

                                4. i am curious about one thing at L'Atelier - is sitting at a bar conducive to an enjoyable dinner if there are more than 2 people dining?
                                  are there any tables or seating at the bar only?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: jamtart12

                                    I have only gone as a couple, but there are tables for 4-tops along the wall opposite the kitchen bar. If you take a look at the website and scroll through the pictures, there's a couple that show the tables.

                                    http://www.mgmgrand.com/dining/atelie...

                                    1. re: jamtart12

                                      request seating around a corner so you can have two and two...if that makes sense