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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.

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  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.

              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.


                    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>


                            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.


                                    1. re: jamtart12

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

                                    2. Just got back from Vegas yesterday and I figured I'd throw in my 2 cents about my experience at L'Atelier. We got there a little late for our 10:00 res and I was dreading that the tasting menu would no longer be available given the comments on this board. We were seated at the far corner of the bar but I noticed there were couples getting checks so we asked to wait to get stools closer to the middle of the bar.

                                      As soon as we sat we were presented with all menus, including the Discovery (now at $135, more about that later). We opted to do one tasting menu and then a few other dishes. Our waiter said it may be difficult to pace the meal so that each diner would have a plate at all times so he mixed the tasting and small dishes to come out two at a time.

                                      Regarding the service, I can’t really complain. The pacing was perfect. The sommelier extremely helpful with the exorbitantly overpriced wine list. The only off thing was that our waiter left a couple of dishes into the meal. He said he had an emergency and that he would be handing us off to another waiter (good thing, he was much better). I did see some waiters who weren’t as polished as they should be for this kind of place, but we lucked out with our server. As for breaking down the kitchen, I did find it a little odd; however, I wouldn’t expect salad chef to hang out and wait while all diners left in the restaurant are on their mains. The breakdown was done quietly and unobtrusively and it didn’t affect our experience at all.

                                      Regarding our meal, it was excellent. Yes, some dishes were better than others. Here’s a rundown that includes the Discovery menu which differed from the one on L’Atelier’s website and may be the one running for those of you going soon:

                                      Amuse of parfait of foie gras – like a liquid gold
                                      Langoustine carpaccio – had something that made it a little bitter
                                      Kussi oysters – I could order 10 of these
                                      Egg cocotte with mushroom cream – very delicate
                                      Pumpkin cappuccino – just as delicate as egg cocotte
                                      Halibut with lemon-thyme vegetables
                                      Foie-gras stuffed quail or Veal picatta – had the quail along with truffled mashed potatoes
                                      Frosted papaya with banana sorbet
                                      Coffee ice cream dessert

                                      Small plates:
                                      Calf sweetbread – insanely good and it comes with a side of pommes puree!
                                      Seared tuna belly with onion rings – an escabeche-type dish with capers and esplette pepper
                                      Bluefin tuna with tomato infused olive oil – good, but not great.
                                      Pig’s feet pate – miss ordering this and you will be sorry. Very rich and heavy.

                                      All in all I liked our experience. There were some customers there that made you say WTF? Such as the woman who was halfway through her steak when she returned it saying it was too heavy. It was a steak with foie gras and truffles! What’d she think it was going to be like…butter lettuce?

                                      As the place emptied out we got a little chatty with our server and sommelier who seem to genuinely like working there despite having to stay constantly composed with the insanity that can be the kitchen area as well as deal with customers such as the aforementioned steak lady. Don’t know what the place would be like when it is packed but I can see it getting a little hectic.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: lax2mia

                                        L2M - fancy seeing you here! Thanks so much for the update, I was wondering if the online tasting menu was current and apparently it's not - which is great because the one you describe sounds even better. Though we've actually already had many of these dishes as well on one or the other of our visits, the foie parfait, the oysters, the egg & mushroom thing are all favorites. And the pig trotter tartine was one of the greatest things I ever ate.

                                        We've been there in the middle of "rush hour" and the kitchen has always been completely composed. Really pretty amazing to see, actually. Makes you wonder why folks like Gordon Ramsey act like you have to run around with your hair on fire and curse like a sailor to run a good kitchen.

                                        1. re: lax2mia

                                          lax2mia - I'm happy they presented you with the discovery menu. Hopefully my email to the manager about my experience changed their "policy". Thank you for reminding me about the foie gras amuse. I agree that it was fantastic and probably the best dish I tried that night. However it also reminds me of another faux paux of the kitchen. In many restaurants that I have dined which offer an amuse, they offer a replacment in case the diner is either a vegaterian or is allergic to the item offered. In my case, the DW doesn't eat foie gras and when I advised of such to our server, he just removed the item and didn't replace it with anything else. I also had the bluefin tuna and concur with your assesment.

                                          1. re: lax2mia

                                            So in the end I also did manage to swing l'atelier on my trip through vegas las week. The menus was exactly the same as the one lax outlined above. I thought the menu was excellent, all of the dishes were well executed, well presented, with the exception of the veal which I felt was just way too salted. Overall, a great meal. Service was excellent and I enjoyed watching in the kitchen - even when they had a few little "incidents" happened between the staff - all a lot of fun.

                                            Given the overly priced wine menu, we opted for a few glasses of the Chablis by the glass, which was phenomenal.

                                            Great meal. Worth the price.

                                            1. re: MaggieMuffin

                                              Does anyone know if L'Atelier does wine pairings with the tasting menu? My wife and I tend to seek out tasting menus with wine pairings. Many of our favorite wines have been introduced to us in this way.

                                          2. I would strongly caution against this restaurant. It is not the dining experience it ought to be given the cost. We ate here in October and got the tasting menu, two beers, one bottle of what should have been very modestly priced wine, but with the mark-up was not, and the cost was $500 for two. I am more of a food person than a service person, but at this price, I expect more, I expect an experience. I expect to be wowed by the food and have at least one thing that really blows me away. There was no dish in this meal that did that. That coupled with bad service made the whole thing an actively unpleasant experience. Part of the unpleasantness was in knowing early on that we were going to pay $500 for a mediocre experience and had no ability to affect that outcome--save not ordering another bottle of wine.

                                            So, to the review. First of all, it really irritates me that one of the "courses" was simply the amuse bouche. That became somewhat symbolic of the whole meal. Instead of seeming gracious and inviting, everything seemed programmed and laser-focused on extracting as much money from your wallet as possible, with as little return to you the customer as possible. Our meal was very similar to everyone else's. The fact that the menu changes so little contributes to my irritation. How can you be considered an "innovative" chef, if you just stick to the same bag of tricks, night after night?

                                            The "first course" was a cucumber water shot with some cumin and fennel. Nice and refreshing, but again, this is a palette cleanser, it should NOT be enumerated on the menu. No sooner had we set our spoons down than our plates were whisked away and the second course appeared. At this point we hadn't even received the beers we'd ordered when we first sat down. We realized at this point that we were going to be rifling through our nine courses if we didn't ask them to slow down the pace. So, we asked our incompetent server to wait to bring out the third course till after we had finished our beer.

                                            The second course was an andalusian-style gazpacho, so blended tomatoes with some vinegar. It was very good, but I make this at home, and mine tastes pretty much the same, so not what I want to pay $500 for. Both our hearts sank when the people next to us said that that was the best thing of the night.

                                            Once we finished our beers, as requested, the third course, the langostine carpaccio was brought out. However, while he had followed the letter of our nstruction, he did clearly hadn't informed the chef, so the carpaccio was warm! Despite having sat and gotten warm for 15 mintes, this actually quite good, though it needed salt. This contributed to my feeling that we were in a factory, rather than a very nice restaurant.

                                            Before I go onto the rest of the meal, I have to make a brief digression and discuss the wine situation. First of all, there appears to be a strategy at L'Atelir Joel Robuchon of not having any of the wines listed actually in stock. However, rather than offer you something similar on the list that is slightly more expensive (what I believe is the accepted practice), they bring you out a wine that is not on the list, and which generally retails for about half of what the wine you initially suggested. This happened to us, and to three other couples while we were there! And we had all ordered different things. When we asked for a description of the wine, the person acting as sommelier totally mis-characterized the wine. He described it as having a hint of oak, when in fact it was extraordinarily oaky. Even better than all of this, the price you pay for wine determines what type of glass you get, not the actual wine. So, the people next to us got the same varietal, but got a smaller glass. We had a bordeaux glass in which to drink our chardonnary, and anther couple who apparently hadn't ordered an expensive enough cab was drinking it from a very small pinot-gris type glass. Oh, and our waiter didn't know where the Champagne region of France was...

                                            The next course was the oysters. However, they substituted our oysters. Instead of the kussey, they gave us kumamoto. But the didn't mention the substitution until they placed it in front of us, and then,they did not acknowledge that it was a substitution. Then, later in the night, our neighbors did receive the kussey oysters. Irritating.

                                            At this point our waiter apparently decided to punish us for asking that we be allowed a little more time in between courses, as we had to wait an inordinate amount of time between courses. The next course was the egg cocotte with mushrooms, etc. This too was very good, but not spectacular. But, this was the last good savory thing we had. After this course, the wheels completely fell off.

                                            Up till the 6th course, the dinner had basically been marred by bad service. The food was pretty good. Not good enough to justify the cost, but good enough that if the service hadn't been bad, it would have been a very pleasant experience, just not one that got into our restaurant rankings.

                                            The 6th course was a halibut that was flat out disgusting. It smelled like fish (which if anyone thinks this is OK, it is not, fresh fish does not smell fishy, only when the proteins start to putrefy do you get a fishy smell). I suppose to make up for the poor quality of the fish, they decided they'd better over-cook it to make sure we didnt get sick. And, as a result it was dry and card-board textured. Yuck. And the sauce? What sauce. You'd think they'd at least resort to the old trick of making a fantastic sauce to mask a sub-par piece of meat, but not so. Our grenobloise sauce was just a couple of chopped up vegetables without even an attempt at flavor. We didn't even finish it. In fact, we left it pretty much in tact after a few bites. When we told the waiter how disappointing this was, he said that it was so that the comparison with the quail would make the quail even better.

                                            Sadly, even being set off against such a terrible predecessor, the quail was the biggest disappointment of the night. We had really been looking forward to it. But, the meat was over-cooked, and the foie gras some how managed not to taste. The potatoes were good, but come on, anything with that much butter and cream will taste good. That's not hard. It had so much butter and cream, that the texture was like a paste.

                                            The desserts were good. However, the papaya and banana did not work at all. Separately though they were nice.

                                            Definitley won't be going back. I always worry about this type of restaurant that trades on a brand rather than the quality of the food. I suppose it was no worse than it should be.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: divinemissmoe

                                              Hmmm. Based on your review (another others on this post), perhaps I ought to switch my reservation to another restaurant!

                                              1. re: divinemissmoe

                                                My experience echoes yours completely. Thanks for taking the time to thoroughly write this up.

                                                1. re: divinemissmoe

                                                  I have been to Atelier twice (and am going back next week) and have not had an experience remotely like this. Indeed, they've been a couple of the finest meals I've had. I don't doubt or question that you were disappointed, but do have a few questions/comments ->

                                                  - changing the menu - Our first visit was about 1 1/2 years ago, the second was almost exactly a year ago. Between our first and second visit roughly half of the items on the tasting menu had been changed - enough that it was a significantly different experience. As for your meal being "similar to everyone else's" - do you really think they're going to do a different tasting menu for every diner? How many places do that? If you want to mix it up, go a la carte.

                                                  - service - I've had generally good experiences but can see how they're capable of faltering. The service can be a bit "French," shall we say? We actually had a very nice experience on our last visit - when our server overheard mention that it had been my wife's birthday (2 weeks before our visit), they sent out an extra dessert with samples of several different tarts, gratis, and certainly without me asking. As for pace, though, I suspect they're generally accustomed to Vegas diners who do not particularly want to linger for 2-3 hours over a meal. Indeed, I saw that Guy Savoy is doing a "TGV" express 90-minute tasting probably for this very reason.

                                                  - wine - their wine list infuriates me. The markups are ridiculous. I have not experienced the problem you had with items not being available, though.

                                                  - oysters - how exactly can you tell the difference between a kusshi (not "kussey") and a kumamoto? A kusshi is grown to mimic a kumamoto, only it comes from British Columbia.

                                                  I'll be back again next week and will report back.

                                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                                    Wow, thanks for the counter-point. I'm glad I haven't canceled my reservation yet!

                                                2. As promised, my report on our Visit #3 to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

                                                  I was quite torn between the prospect of doing the tasting menu or coming up with my own from the a la carte menu of small dishes. After much indecision, I ended up going somewhat in between, doing the tasting menu, which had several of my favorites (the oysters w/ echire butter, the egg and mushroom cocotte) and substituting the pig's trotter tartine for the tasting menu choice of a "main" between the quail and the veal picatta. Mrs. F went a la carte, getting the tuna w/ tomato infused olive oil, the egg and mushroom cocotte (a favorite of both of ours, obviously) and a duck confit over potatoes.

                                                  - foie gras foam - an amuse to start. The whole foam thing has been overplayed, both generally and a bit at l'AdJR. But here it works. A shot glass with fluffy essence of foie, a great way to lighten up an otherwise heavy food item, with underneath a little layer of port reduction, and one other flavor component I've now forgotten. Put it this way - Mrs. F doesn't like foie gras, and she loved this (the kitchen brought one for her even though she went a la carte).

                                                  - langoustine carpaccio - sweet raw langoustine, pounded out into a flat sheet, topped with a sprinkle of poppy seeds, lemon zest and pimente d'espelette. Good but if I'd been doing my own menu this is one of the items I'd have skipped (partly b/c I've had it before).

                                                  - oysters w/ echire butter - 3 Washington State oysters w/ a pat of excellent butter, heated just until the butter melts and the oyster firms a bit from its raw state. Incredibly simply but one of the best oyster preparations I've ever had. Love it.

                                                  - tuna w/ tomato-infused olive oil - I actually liked the execution of this on our last visit better. Where the first time the oil mostly just had the flavor of the tomatoes, this time it had a pretty heavy addition of diced sun-dried tomatoes which topped the slices of raw tuna. Overwhelming, I thought, though perhaps the prior rendition was seen as too subtle.

                                                  - egg and mushroom cocotte - a martini glass w a layer of parsely puree on the bottom, topped with a perfectly poached egg, some bits of wild mushrooms, and a mushroom foam on the top. Another just wonderful dish. We had this on our first visit and liked it so much we both got one (highly unusual).

                                                  - pumpkin capuccino with chestnuts - pretty good, and I loved the chestnuts, but a little too similar in structure to the prior dish.

                                                  - halibut w/ vegetables - the only outright disappointment of the night. Halibut, gently cooked, and topped with a fine dice of yellow peppers, tomoato, shallot, capers. The vegetables were nebbish, the fish was nebbish, this one just didn't do anything for me. I should caution I'm not a big fan of many white-fleshed fish.

                                                  - trotter tartine - as noted above, a substitute for the usual choice of quail or veal picatta. I had this on my last visit and it was one of the greatest things I've eaten. Absolutely delicious and they've now embellished it even further. Very tender pig trotter meat, rich and unctuous, diced into an almost very loose pate, spread generously onto a crouton and then topped with slivers of black truffle, parmesan cheese, and prosciutto.

                                                  - confit duck w/ potatoes - a simple and decadently rich dish. Slices of potato cooked till tender (I'm betting cooked in duck fat), and then topped off with shredded duck confit meat.

                                                  Desserts -

                                                  Tasting menu came with a papaya sorbet w/ banana meringue (meh) and then a coffee gelato w/ a crispy brownie (very potent coffee flavor, nice texture). Mrs. F got the "chocolate sensation" (chocolate ganache/pudding w/ oreo cookie crumbs and a chocolate wafer.

                                                  I've generally found the dessserts at the "haute" places to be ultimately less than satisfying - more about presentation than flavor. Though the chocolate and coffee desserts were good, that was true here too.

                                                  As for some other matters commented on here:

                                                  Wine list - I have previously complained bitterly about the wine list markups. I actually found these to be not as egregious on this visit as on prior times. I think it's actually gotten better rather than worse. We had a very nice 03 Alain Jaume Chateauneuf du Pape for about $140. At probably a little less than 3x retail it is still a steep markup, but not any worse than anywhere else in town. A nice gewurtztraminer to start was pretty reasonably priced (for a place like this) at about $13. A glass of pineau de charentes to finish was also very nice (when I asked about it, our waiter gave a sample to taste before I ordered it).

                                                  Service - I thought the service was impeccable. Dishes were appropriately paced, staff was friendly, and Mrs. F even got the manager, who initially seems like a bit of a stiff, starched-shirt type, to loosen up some. He is actually a very sweet guy who remembered us from our prior visits and was happy to talk about how the restaurant was doing, their visits from the big man himself (Joel Robuchon makes house calls at least a couple times a year), and so on. He has a bit of French reserve, and I think all the service team are initially a bit formal, but they seem to quickly relax as soon as you let them know it's OK.

                                                  Open kitchen - I remain puzzled by complaints from people about seeing the line cooks using their hands, breaking down the kitchen, eating, etc. One thing I've noted from our multiple visits - the first time we went, which was shortly after they opened, it seemed like it was more of a "show kitchen" than a working kitchen. Very little seemed to be going on though there was lots of pretty food on display. Now, it's a real working kitchen. To me that's a good thing. I didn't see anything that was in any way different than in every other open kitchen I've witnessed. Folks often plate with their hands, they often taste as they go (a good thing!), they sometimes will have a snack as they work, and they'll usually start cleaning up when the night is close to done.

                                                  All in all, another happy meal for us. Though I didn't love everything, there were enough knock-outs that I thoroughly enjoyed our Visit #3 and am already looking forward to #4. For me this remains a "don't miss" for any Vegas trip.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                                    Frodnesor - While I'm happy that you enjoyed your meal, I don't understand your confusion with regard to the cooks eating while cooking. This is a hygene issue plain and simple. I have no problem with cooks using ftheir fingers to touch the food while cooking (notwithstanding the fact that many kitchens use latex gloves). The eating issue is problematic as their fingers touch their mouths. Furthermore, while the restaurant is not formal by any stretch of the imagination, I don't want to see the cooks munching on fries (or whatever) while I'm trying to dine. They have a house meal before service and shouldn't be munching in front of customers whether this is an open kitchen or not.

                                                    1. re: bgut1

                                                      bgut - As far as I'm concerned it's no big deal at all. Your fingers touch your mouth no more or less while tasting a dish than while eating a snack. When we finished up it was close to 10pm and I didn't even think twice about it. Particularly if you're talking about guys doing it while they're breaking down their station and cleaning up, that's not a hygiene issue, that's an "I'm paying $150 a head for this meal and don't want to watch you sneaking a snack" issue. Which, as I think I said earlier, is fine if that's how you feel. Doesn't bother me.

                                                      Could they be more discreet about it? Perhaps. But honestly, I couldn't care less.

                                                      Interesting little anecdote for comparison. We went to Okada last night (loved it - I'll post further elsewhere). This was a post-show dinner so we didn't sit down till after 10. Sat at the sushi bar, had some wonderful fish, after having one plate I asked our sushi chef about one item under the glass which I thought was saba (mackerel). His eyes lit up a bit, and he told me "No, that is kohada [Japanese shad, another silver-skinned fish] ... very good!" So I had some, and he was right.

                                                      Five minutes later I noticed him taking the tray of kohada out again, taking another piece, rolling a rice ball and making himself a little snack (which he briefly ducked beneath the sushi bar to eat).

                                                      Was I offended? Not even remotely. To the contrary, I thought it was absolutely charming that he was excited enough about his own product to be grabbing a little snack as the evening was wrapping up.

                                                      1. re: Frodnesor

                                                        Good points Frodnesor. It just comes down to expectations. You are willing to accept it and I'm not. I guess that's why dining is so subjective.

                                                  2. My wife and I went there last week. With all the Chowhound debate surrounding this place, I must admit I stepped gingerly into the restaurant not knowing at all what to expect. Overall, I tend to agree with the pro-l'Atelier commenters more than the other group, simply because of the level of creativity and detail which went into the various dishes. We had between us one "Discovery Menu" comprising of nine courses of mostly delightful plates and several items off of the a la carte menu. The Discovery Menu was identical to the one LAX2MIA posted on 11/28, with the exception of the desserts: a pear sorbet in a port reduction with crunchy ginger bread and a hazelnut cremeux, fresh mango and coffee-caramel steusel. The desserts, which were prepared by a pastry chef completely out of the plain view of the restaurant guests, were out of this world.

                                                    Here's how we would rate the experience, plate by plate:

                                                    l'Amuse Bouche: foie gras parfait with port wine and parmesan foam. What a way to start dinner! Sitting inside this modest shot glass was a bold, yet lightly textured "capuccino"-like conconction with not a single flavor out of place. A+

                                                    La Langoustine: langoustine carpaccio with roasted poppy seed dressing. A sweet, delicately flavored shellfish given a little bit more heft with lemon zest and poppy seeds. We thought it was quite inventive, but basically a pleasant detour along our culinary journey. B+

                                                    Saumon Fume: Our first a la carte course was served at the same time at the langoustine, a generous helping of smoked salmon with a potato waffle. This ultimately tasted like very good, fresh lax to go with a breakfast bagle. I've had better elsewhere. B

                                                    Les Huitres: poached baby Kussi oysters from Washington with French "echire" butter. My wife thought this was phenomenal. I tend to be more of a purist when it comes to oysters...give it to me raw! I almost felt like Robuchon was sanctioning the colorization of a good black and white movie here. It still worked on its own terms. A-

                                                    Le Ventreche - lightly seared tuna belly with crispy onion rings (tasting portion). Totally satisfying, with the fattiness of the tuna belly giving it a nice heaviness. I would have gotten it as a main course. A

                                                    l'Oeuf - egg cocotte topped with a light mushroom cream. Our second "breakfast" dish of the night, dressed up in a martini glass. It was a pleasant enough dish, but in comparison to the ride our taste buds were getting in other courses, it didn't seem to belong. B-

                                                    La Tartine - pig feet pate with shaved truffle and parmesan on toasted baguette. I was really looking forward to this one, but it was overwhelmingly salty. The bread was overly toasted and rock hard. It's already a naturally salty dish and probably the pate on a nice lightly toasted bread would have worked just fine. Not lost on me was the fact that this dish must've taken considerable amount of time to prepare. B

                                                    Le Ris de Veau - calf's sweetbread with fresh laurel and stuffed romaine lettuce. I haven't tasted anything quite like this. This was exceptionally high-quality sweetbread, with a delicate flavor and creamy-smooth texture. A

                                                    La Caille - free range quail stuffed with foie gras and served with truffled mash potatoes. The highlight among the main courses, the quail, with the earthiness of the potatoes and the savoriness of the foie gras, evoked French farm country cooking. A+

                                                    Le Boeuf - actually we substituted venison for the veal piccatta on the Discovery Menu. Unfortunately, the venison was so seasoned with peppercorn as to be beyond recognition. The only regret this evening. C

                                                    The desserts mentioned above both get solid A's.

                                                    As for the wines, yes, do come prepared to see some eye-popping markups. We started the evening with a couple glasses of chablis, which went very well with our fish items. We also ordered a $65 bottle of 2004 Condado de Haza, tempranillo, which retails for $20. A 300% markup was a little bit obsene, but still affordable. Grade C (simply for lack of value among the bottles, and even some wines by the glass were laughably pricey).

                                                    Service/Ambience - Professional, confident and friendly. This is quite impressive, given that I was hard pressed to find a staffmember who had hit 30. Many spoke French and English with ease. I got the sense that I was looking at quite a talented group of people whose careers in the restaurant business have not yet come to full throttle, and that to me was what made our visit to this restaurant that much more exciting. Before I forget: both this restaurant and the ultra-swanky Joel Robuchon at the Mansion seem totally out of place in the grotesquely cavernous, noisy and crowded MGM Grand. Compare the location of these restaurants to the fine dining establishments in the Wynn, Venetian and Bellagio, which are tucked a little more out of the way. Grade: A- (half a grade docked for the ugly location).

                                                    Having said all of this, I can also see why others who posted were disappointed after eating here. The bill for the two of us was a shade over $500, and $100 more than what we paid at Picasso the year before (a meal which still ranks as one of the best we have ever had). And maybe there is something to be said for expecting flawlessness when you are being asked to pay a lot of money to eat here. The "Robuchon" brand name appears to sadly be a factor in the price, which is unfortunate since his whole idea with this "workshop" type restaurant was to bring the loftiness of fine dining down to a more accessible level. So ultimately, as good a time we had at l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, I don't suppose we'll go back there again. Our next budget-busting Vegas restaurant excursion will probably be Alex in the Wynn (and, who knows, we probably will end up still paying less!).