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French Laundry in Napa or Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas - Which one?

Sometimes one has to plan to climb the Mount Everest of dining.

In Northern California Thomas Keller and the French Laundry would be considered by most to be the peak (both in food and difficulty in getting a table)... I also have a chance to go to Las Vegas and there the peak would be Joel Robuchon at the MGM in Las Vegas (considered god of French cooking).

Given both places are essentially $500 and up per person including wine, one has to plan to decide which one to go for (though I have a feeling i can get reservation at Joel Robuchon easier than French Laundry)

Anyone been lucky enough to dine at both to give a comparison?

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  1. The French Laundry is $240 per/person including service. Wine can get pricey but not crazy if careful. A lot of people also like Manresa in Northern California.

    1. haven't been to either, but one thing to keep in mind is that (at least for now) you can also get a (mostly) equivalent experience (food-wise and service-wise) to the french laundry at per se in new york, whereas you'd have to go out of the country for an equivalent robuchon restaurant.

      4 Replies
      1. re: vulber

        Isn't there an Atelier du Robuchon in Manhattan? Or is that very much different?

          1. re: Pei

            vegas also has an atelier du robuchon in addition to the restaurant.

            1. re: vulber

              Having dined at both places, I can assure you that the food at Joël Robuchon at the Mansion, is far, far, far, superior to that at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon next door.

        1. I donno. There's an awful lot to be said for the relaxing experience you'll have at the Laundry...the sweet setting, and the pleasant bench in the grass outside, and the air and the scenery on route are all part of the experience. I just had some great dining in Vegas myself, but at the end of the meal, you're in Vegas. It's fun, yes, but not transcendent.

          1. If you go for the full tasting menu at Robuchon, it will be about $200 more per person than a meal at TFL. The food at TFL is very sophisticated Cal/French. The food at Robuchon is very sophisticated French Haut Cuisine. If I had never been to either, I'd go to TFL for bragging rights and because it is a the ultimate wine country experience. If money and time was not a problem and I was revisiting, I'd probably pick Robuchon, as the food is more sophisticated and over the top ingredient and flavor-wise.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Paul H

              Have been to Robuchon in Vegas and FL in Yountville and there is absolutely no comparison - FL wins. Also have been to both Robuchon restaurants in Paris and FL still wins.

              1. re: lizziee

                I've also dined at both and although Robuchon is excellent, FL is in an entirely different league. For my tastes, FL has a better setting, better scenery, and is a more relaxed dining experience.

                1. re: drycap

                  Ditto. To provide some context, we dined at French Laundry back in Jan. '08 and Robuchon in Vegas three months later. Since then, as it has been noted in other posts, TFL's chef has changed.

                  There were 2-3 interesting standout dishes (and on the flip side at least 1-2 disappointments) on the 13+ course Menu Degustation at Robuchon, coupled with their bounteous bread and mignardise carts (the highlight for me was an amazing chocolate sorbet and surprisingly enough, a soybean dish); however, for the overall atmosphere, experience, and just plain dish-for-dish, TFL came out on top.

                  Robuchon was fairly easy to reserve and nearly empty when we went for an early dinner (went to catch the late showing of "Love" right afterwards). It definitely felt more stuffy than TFL and as stuff in Vegas tends to be, a bit contrived...I still can't get over some of the inedible, food-like plate props.

                  With TFL, the reservation was a lot harder to land. We chanced upon an open seating Sunday early AM on OpenTable for the upcoming Tuesday night, drove up there for a late dinner, spent the night at the Milliken Creek Inn, then drove the hour + change back down to work the next morning - it was definitely worth the last-minute scramble!

                  Bottom line, given the chance to pick one to do over again, we'd likely go back to TFL - this time, in the summer, and for lunch.

            2. no question for me Joel Robuchon...though I've only been to Per Se not FL (many of the dishes are the same as FL). I'd rather go to L'atelier even than FL. Per se was disappointing...though some dishes were amazing like the oyster tapioca thing and the lime laces.. Many dishes were just ok for the prices we are talking about.

              1. I have been to both though French Laundry was years ago. I can't imagine that you would be disappointed with either. I would choose Joel Robuchon simply because it now offers a choice of Prix Fixe menus that enables one to have a Michelin 3 star restaurant experience for as little as $89 a person. I just can no longer justify spending $200 - $400 a person for dinner.

                1. I've been to both, and if it were feasible to go back in time, I'd go to Jamin when Robuchon was cooking there over both choices (TFL and Robuchon in Vegas), but that is of course not possible. As has been alluded to previously in the thread, The Mansion Joel Robuchon is French haute cuisine whereas The French Laundry is California French, so what you prefer in style might help you to make a decision. I have not been to The French Laundry since Corey Lee left as chef, although I imaging that the food quality remains solid, as Keller promoted from within. For total dining experience, The French Laundry is certainly superior when you take into account food, service, decor, and setting. Although Robuchon is more expensive, they are running prix fixe menu and tasting menu specials, depending on number of courses desired, because Vegas tourism is suffering so badly. And yes, you are correct, a table at Robuchon will be much easier to get than one at TFL. As for Atelier de Joel Robuchon, it is very nice as well, although certainly not up to the quality of ingredients and preparation as The Mansion. Plus the quality of food at L'Atelier in Paris is superior to the one in Vegas. If I were you and had never been to either, I'd go to The French Laundry, even though I personally prefer traditional French haute cuisine. The reality is that although Keller is the best chef in America, Robuchon is after all Chef of the Century, so if both were actually cooking in one of their restaurants, you should of course go to Robuchon's restaurant,

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Paris Dreamin

                    Have been to both including Per Se in NY. There's no comparison for the whole experience, hands down its FL!

                    1. re: Paris Dreamin

                      Not to derail the topic, but, Paris; if you couldn't afford Robuchon at the Mansion would you go to L'atelier?

                      1. re: Missmoo

                        Missmoo,

                        Absolutely I would. L'Atelier is fantastic for the price. The Paris one has a Michelin star and the one in New York does as well, I think. The one in Vegas does not have much of a drop in quality despite being in the circus known as Vegas. The foie gras parfait with parmesan amuse bouche is an outstanding start, and the rest of the menu is delicious as well. I particularly like the poached baby oysters, the sliders with foie gras, the lobster, the broth with foie gras ravioli, and the hangar steak. They also serve Iberico ham, which is a surprising treat. The only thing that I have ever eaten there that I found to be mediocre was a whitefish that was underseasoned (can't even recall what fish it was, it was so forgettable). But otherwise, it is a wonderful place to dine. Just keep in mind that you are seated at a counter around an open kitchen, served by staff from behind the counter. The prep here is intricate, so looking into the kitchen is actually quite nice. The alternative is a few tables on the side, but they only will seat you at a table if you have at least a party of 4. If you must have dinner at the Mansion, though, the current "special" menus run as low as $89, I think, for two courses and about $20 more for each additional course that you want. The Mansion is decidedly more formal that L'Atelier, however.

                        1. re: Paris Dreamin

                          Iberico's not hard to find any more. You can get a plate at Barlata for $16.

                            1. re: Paris Dreamin

                              This is the wrong board for that discussion, but there are at least two other places.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Clearly I've never been to these "at least two other places" in Vegas with jambon Iberico, although I tend be to a proponent of going to the source. My reply to Missmoo is about L'Atelier in Vegas, though, since I was asked by her about it, not about the Iberico, I just happened to mention it to give an example of things you can find at L'Atelier, not to start a debate about where you can or can't find it.