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Vegas Report: Joel Robuchon

Summary: A mixed bag. And since it’s a 3-star Michelin, we’re not really pleased when it’s a mixed bag…we’re looking for our socks to be knocked off. So disappointing overall.

Evening started off on the wrong foot. The car they sent to pick us up didn’t show, and we didn’t get a call warning us. They apologized for it when we showed up, but didn’t do anything else, which I thought was surprising. (Like pick up the tab for the cab?)

In any case, here’s the story on the important part…the food!

Standout dishes:
*The amuse bouche with caviar was truly outstanding. I could eat this 3x/day. We also loved their Bruno Paillard champagne – terrific match.
*Foie gras and artichoke – very refreshing, very interesting to have artichoke as the highlight. Unusual and delicious.
*Cheese cart – what a great cheese cart. I loved that they weren’t afraid to put some off-putting choices on there- Epoisses, Muenster, Pont L’Eveque. We love cheese and are familiar with a lot of cheeses, but they had one we’d never heard of called Boulette d'Avesnes. It makes my heart go pitty pat when restaurants have a cheese cart in the first place, don’t dumb down their cheese selection, AND when they put unusual stuff on the cart. So they totally got a gold star from us! And I should mention that our server was also really nice, friendly, helpful. Perfect service from him.
*Mashed potatoes – totally amazing, tremendous.
*Hazelnut crème brulee with pop rocks – utterly delicious, absolutely fun.
*Mignardes. Just entirely too much fun to have 40-some odd dessert bites rolled out in front of you. Loved the lemon lollipop. Loved the cannelle de Bordeaux(?)—looked like a little Alsatian Gugelhopf, but tasted different. Even the caramel was a standout.

Just ok
*Langoustine ravioli with black truffle. I think Chowhounder uhockey warned against this, but I dove right in anyway. And the langoustine was a little tough. And the sum of the parts wasn’t magical. At this point, I said to my husband, “Oh dear. I’ve had a LOT of better meals this year. “ And he responded, “I’ve had a better meal TODAY. ”
*The bread cart. We were so looking forward to this, but I really wished they would have had 3 great breads rather than a ton of breads that were just ok. We tried the rosemary, gruyere, comte, basil, bacon/mustard, olive oil and plain baguette. All solid efforts. But by comparison, the mushroom brioche served over at Guy Savoy blows the doors of any of those breads, IMO. The butter and olive oil they served were fantastic, though.
*Chestnut veloute. I am a lover of soup. This was nice, but not something I’d run back for. The chestnuts were interesting, and we’re happy to find foie gras anywhere, including at the bottom of a bowl of soup. But again, not a standout dish.
*Sole. My husband and I agreed the fish was perfectly cooked, but I thought the delicate flavor of the fish was completely overpowered by the Mediterranean flavors in the dish. I didn’t think this was an improvement on a sole meunier.
*Duck & foie. Basic/basic. Sigh. And the fat on the duck really needed a bit more rendering.

Sommelier – so we’re super tolerant about accents, happy to stretch to give non-native English speakers a break. But their sommelier’s English was pretty tough to understand. I could catch names of grapes here and there, but really couldn’t get enough of what she was trying to say as descriptions of the wines. And then…on top of that…we’ve got to say that we didn’t really “get” her pairings. They were fine, but nothing happened where 1+1 = 4, and that’s what we’re looking for our sommelier to do. She still gets kudos for having that Bruno Paillard Champagne on the menu. And we found two unusual dessert wines we’d never heard of, tried, and loved (Charente Pineau des Charentes; Vin de Constance). But they definitely need a better sommelier on all counts listed above.

Décor – OMG, there were tacky LED candles on the tables. I wouldn’t put those out for a formal dinner at my HOUSE. In a room full of stunning floral arrangements that probably cost thousands of dollars, LED candles? Confusing.

A few last notes– I went to Per Se for the first time just a few weeks back, so I had that 3-star Michelin experience fresh in my mind. In that case, we just kept getting served one mind-blowing dish after another. So that’s what I’m looking for. This dinner had its moments, but totally paled in comparison. We’ve also been to Twist within the last year, and had a much better experience there. We felt Twist was swinging for the fences on every dish, and we thought they hit it out of the park more often than not. We just didn’t get that mind-blowing “out-of-the-park” experience here. We’ve also been to L’Atelier twice and found it more inventive and exciting.

Final bummer – they sent everyone home with a chocolate bar instead of a loaf of cake/bread. Sadness.

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  1. I will completely agree that Per Se trumps Robuchon, but I found their bread cart vastly superior to Savoy's (though the Mushroom bread at Savoy was quite special.)

    Good trip reports, btw!

    http://uhockey.blogspot.com

    1. I agree with both you and u <wink>.

      I find Per Se to be far superior to JR. While my meal was not as clunky as yours, I just remember feeling that I had a good but not great/amazing meal ... to borrow your phrase, 1 + 1 always = 2, never 4.

      With that reputation and at that price point (I dined solo, had the full-blown tasting menu with a bottle of wine and it was $650 or $700 including tax & tip) I better have a revelatory experience.

      It's good, but hard to justify for me.

      1. Speaking of bummers, when we ate there last year, our take home goodie was a box of those fruit jelly things like from the mignardes cart. You know, the ones no one ever eats.

        1. I'm so sorry! I guess this happens. Honestly, my experience at Joel Robuchon earlier this year was nothing short of phenomenal. However, I've heard some sad stories of mediocre meals there. Maybe they just have the occasional "bad days" like most other restaurants... But at their price point, there are NO excuses for "bad days".

          1. I went to JR in March and Per Se in June of this year. I believe I preferred JR in everything except the decor and the parting gift. Per Se gave us some very nice short bread cookies while JR gave marshmallows.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nextguy

              I'd be kinda pissed if a restaurant noted for sending people home with whole cakes or loaves (which I DID , to JR's credit, receive) gave me marshmallows.

              I mean, I can make those at home in no time!!

              That being said, my meal there was certainly delicious, but for me though I am willing to shell out, when I do so at JR's price point I expect to be blown away.

              Cut my tab in half and I would be raving about this place.