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Oct 18, 2010 07:04 PM

Grateful to be in the following "rut"...fine dining question.

Greetings fellow Hounds,

I'm writing one month in advance of turning "double nickels"...we're celebrating my day with hopefully a truly memorable and an "exquisite on all levels" dining experience on Nov. 18th. Not too much to ask for, is it :) ?

For us, the holy grail here in Los Angeles, is when we've pulled out all of the stops for dinner at Urasawa for exquisite sushi and more. Since my husband turned 50 (5 years ago), we've partaken 4 times, and we were all but positive that this is where we'd ring in the start of my 55th. year.

As hedonistic as it sounds, we've gotten used to this special type of evening, running over the thousand dollar price point, and here is where Las Vegas comes into play. We have never experienced the meal at Joel Robuchon, although we've dined at his restaurant Jamin, in Paris years ago. We are aware of the $385 per person cost, and we've booked a table. Something occurred today that is giving us pause for re-thinking this extravagant evening. Sixteen courses is a bounty of food to be sure, and we realize that the evening will run for hours....which we dig! For the ducks of it, I tried to "google" to see what the cost of wine pairing might be to accompany 16 courses. I couldn't find any answer, so I finally called the restaurant. I was told that wine pairing for this spectacular meal would cost between $299 and (gasp) $900 per person, in addition to the cost of the meal. The wine pairing for this type of event seemed so important, but I confess that at this point, we're in the "all or nothing" mode. It seems folly to select a single bottle of wine to take us through a lengthy evening with so many flavors and food ingredients.

I would dearly appreciate input on the above...I've done some research, and have heard that the Atelier restaurant is also a stunner, and we are not closed to it.

The final part of this post, is I guess the age old question, of where is the best?.....I would love to know amongst the hounds who've partaken in this type of splurge, where else you've been fulfilled on all levels....service, atmosphere, and of course food quality. A lifetime ago, when we were pups, we remember Andre's, when his restaurant was in a house like setting....God, did we love that restaurantt. Anyway, I do realize that I'm running on and on, so will close.....but I do hope for some helpful Chowhound reading when I re-visit my post tomorrow.

Big thanks to all,

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  1. Guy Savoy and Alex are slightly less "wowing" than Robuchon, but they are still excellent restaurants.

    I'd place Robuchon in my top 10 meals all time, and Savoy only slightly lower. With that noted, I did the 6 course (+1 additional) at Robuchon and an entirely customized Prestige menu at Savoy. I rambled at length about both on Chowhound and in the blog.

    1 Reply
    1. re: uhockey

      Big thank you here. Your blog is "off the charts" with interesting content and detail...some good writing going on...who knew about this dividend? Heck, now I'm hell bent on "googling" for the graham cracker crusted French toast recipe.

      I feel stronger now about keeping our table at Joel Robuchon, without the necessity of different wines for each thanks for that as well.

      Cheers, and I'm looking forward to delving into your blogsite

    2. Re: the $385 meal at Robuchon ... we've dined there twice recently (June and August) and are returning in November (yes, we enjoy it that much). Had the $385 degustation menu in August and have also had the 6 course prix fixe in June ($215) while my wife had the 4 course prix fixe ($168) both times.

      Gotta say that, regardless of the price, we enjoyed the prix fixe meals more. The problem with the 16 course meal is that you get a little of almost everything and there are likely to be some wobbles along the way where something just doesn't hit your palate right (for me it was the cilantro gazpacho and one of the crustacean dishes that was a bit bland for a Robuchon receipe). Something to be said for putting together a coherent meal where the courses lead from one to the next from the prix fixe options, I feel.

      Anyway, the four course meal my wife had in August was her all-time favorite meal out of about 15 meals at Mobil 5* and Michelin 3* restaurants in the US and France (Alinea was a close second, then a bit of a drop off to # 3). The six course meal I had in June was my all-timer too, just nudging out Alinea as well.

      So for me the 16 course degustation isn't the be-all and end-all at Robuchon's ...

      Not sure about the wine pairings, we didn't see any offered but I guess they can work something up for you at those prices :) We just got a nice bottle of Bordeaux and had aged tawny port with desserts and seemed to do fine, though I'm sure a good white would have been most excellent with two of the exceptional seafood dishes off the prix fixe (Le Tofu
      - "Delicate tofu veloute on warm smoked eel seaweed gelee" and Le Homard-"Roasted lobster on pilaf rice and caramelized sea urchin with oriental essences")

      >> where is the best?

      Well, if you believe Michelin and Gayot etc it's Robuchon ... a few prefer Alex (see Ellen's posts) but we hit Alex and Robuchon back-to-back in August and felt Robuchon was clearly better. Going to Guy Savoy in November ... most places rate Robuchon, Alex and Guy Savoy as the big three. Here's a link to a guy who has dined at all three and enjoyed all three, with his ratings and comments: ... go to his index to read longer write-ups on each one.

      4 Replies
      1. re: willyum

        I've eaten at all 3 and would say Robuchon and Savoy trump Alex significantly, though Alex would be the best restaurant in the city if it were located in almost any other US city.

        I'm doing Twist, Picasso, L'Atelier, and Sage on my upcoming visit - I look forward to seeing how the competition stacks up!

        1. re: uhockey

          Hey again Uhockey,

          Your coming trip to Las Vegas sounds like you are going to be very well taken care of...enjoy to the max! You've brought up Alex, and we've dined there twice. Our first meal was a deux, and let me tell you....simply ummmazing. Our second Alex experience was when we gave my in-laws a 60th. anniversary party. We took over a private room, and the pampering was luxuriant. There were 10 of us, and we arranged our own menus, with maybe 3 choices within each course category. A lovely evening to be sure, but in this type of atmosphere, we felt ultimately that the cuisine took a bit of a hit. No doubt we will return to this restaurant, but not for a party. Again, I am looking forward to delving into your blog site.


        2. re: willyum

          Thank you Willyum for your generous response...Funny, even before having read your post, I was musing about our coming Robuchon experience and the 16 courses...I've been re-thinking the merits or lack thereof so many courses. I believe it's time to do a little homework, and finesse a 5 or 6 course meal, with perhaps an extra thrown in. Uhockey's post gave me the entry to his blogspot, and thereby my first knowledge of Alinea...and now you've gone and mentioned that restaurant as well. Looks like Chicago may be on our "soon list". Enjoy Guy Savoy in November....we've had the thrill of dining at his restaurant in Paris, half a lifetime ago! Our two nighter "double nickels" birthday trip won't have us dining at another restaurant in the tier of Robuchon, so we'll save that for a future trip...our first night will be at Joe's Stone Crab....and believe it or not, it's for their steaks!
          Cheers, and thanks again for sharing your thoughts,

          1. re: JeffW

            Chicago should absolutely be high on your list of US culinary destinations - I personally rank it second only to New York - and that includes NOLA, SF, Philly, DC, Vegas, and LA.


        3. Jeff,

          In the for-whatever-it's-worth mode, my wife and I make it a point to eat at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon at least once a year . . . the $385 degustation menu is just a bit much. Anyway, we both like sitting at the bar in front of the open kitchen of L'Atelier . . . .

          Be that as it may, I *never* do the wine pairing here -- in no small part because it's not on the menu (i.e.: I have no idea what wines the sommelier has selected), and the fact that I spent 35+ years in the wine trade.

          This past Saturday (10/16/2010), my wife and I put together our own "tasting menu" of seven small plates and then sharing an entrée. As for the wine, it was actually simple: we shared a half-bottle of n.v. Pierre Peters Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne, followed by a half-bottle of 2007 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvée Sainte Catherine, and then a half-bottle of 2007 Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir (the restaurant was out of the Domaine Drouhin I had originally selected).

          We paired a few courses with each wine -- it worked wonderfully -- and it wasn't a problem . . .

          Just food for thought.


          1 Reply
          1. re: zin1953

            Hmmm, more to "chew on". Thnx, Jason. Uhockey as well, is doing the L'Atelier experience on his next many restaurants, so little time :)

          2. Just a side note Robuchon is in town on those days so if you decide on his restaurant you might have the chance to meet him..

            2 Replies
            1. re: SDGourmand

              A friend of mine told me the same thing....that he will be around in November. Whether or not he will be in the restaurant on the 18th., who doubt his crew runs a very tight ship every day, but knowing that Robuchon will be in town does make me feel good.

              1. re: JeffW

                I know for sure he's there on that date. He will at least make a pass through both L'Atelier and JR.. I'll be dining at L'Atelier on the 17th or 18th still trying to finalize everything.. Either way you will not be disappointed and will be an experience you talk about for years to come.

            2. hi jeffw,

              had been blessed enough to enjoy the mansion 2x, both times doing the 16-course. you won't get stuffed, because it really is a lot, of little tasty and beautiful works of art. we don't drink, so that certainly helped. in comparison, doing per se's chef tasting was a bit more filling...

              food quality is amazing, certainly our family puts in in the top 5 of all time. (per se, bar charlie, manresa, eleven madison are the others.) service is unobtrusive and relaxed - and by how the staff graciously treated our girls - 10 and 15 when we went, i give them top marks. atmosphere - you know you're in a special place, but not pretentious. very intimate, actually.

              enjoy, and congratulations!

              (likewise from socal...)

              1 Reply
              1. re: jacknhedy

                Thanks for your post....a very nice memory for your girls, enjoying the "good life" at such a tender me, I was lucky if my parents would take me to a cafeteria :)