uhockey reviews Day 3 Las Vegas: Morel's French Steakhouse, Todd English P.U.B., L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Joel Robuchon
First of all - thanks to all for the recommendations, Chowhound continues to be the best resource I've yet found to optimize my experiences in the cities I visit. Having enjoyed 24 meals plus a few snacks over the course of 9 days in Las Vegas and Los Angeles the reviews will be slow in coming.
As usual, text will be posted here at Chowhound and full pictures will be available in the blog.
Thanks again, it was a truly memorable trip and hopefully my thoughts will help guide others to similarly great experiences.
Morels French Steakhouse - Full review as below, pictures in blog:
…as it turns out there is more than one Morel’s French Steakhouse – when I made Brunch reservations for our third day in Las Vegas I really had no idea…not until we walked by the familiar façade four days later at The Grove in Los Angeles. While not as high profile as other restaurants on the Las Vegas culinary landscape a quick browse of the menu and positive words from a friend combined with early opening hours (8am) made brunch a logical choice…besides, I love French food and I’d already tasted “the best” of Sin City’s breakfast and brunch scene.
Arriving at eight on the dot we actually presented to closed doors – no worries though, they’d open only minutes later. Making our way into the vast confines of the restaurant we stated our names, though reservations clearly were not necessary. Led to a comfortable 4-top near the large glass windows we marveled at the black and white tiled floor, raw bar, cheese bar, cork wreath, chandeliers, and generally lovely layout of the space. Greeted quickly by our server, Gina G, we were provided with menus and water was filled for us all while the others opted for Orange Juice, Hot Tea, and a specialty French Press of Rwandan Komera coffee – a bold citrus blend with plenty of body that didn’t really appeal to me, but my mother enjoyed a lot.
Browsing the menu of both traditional and non-traditional bistro fare we settled on a pair of sweets and a pair of savories to be shared around. With service good throughout the meal there were two small issues considering only one other table was seated during the entirety of our brunch – the first being the fact that my water actually reached empty twice and the second when one of the ancillary staff nearly filled my sister’s tea with coffee. With light classical playing overhead it would be approximately 15 minutes before our plates would arrive.
For myself, the standard in such circumstances; a Croque Madame with Country Ham, Gruyère Cheese, Sauce Mornay,Crispy Sourdough, Fried Egg and a side of Pommes Frites with organic Heinz ketchup. While the frites were largely a miss – hot but somewhat anemic and flavorless, the sandwich was actually quite good, albeit lightly topped. With two thin slices of rich ham and an equal portion of Gruyere sandwiched between the crispy bread, the highlight of the dish was unquestionably the lovely Mornay and creamy egg yolk.
The second option, my mothers, was the crispy Belgium Waffle with fresh Berries and Housemade Vanilla Syrup. Simple in concept the execution of this dish was quite poor in my opinion – the waffle doughy and the vanilla syrup tasting identical to the pure maple syrup (not a bad thing, but false advertising) until blended with the dollop of vanilla cream atop the waffles. Admittedly the fruits were very fresh and tasty, however.
Opting for more unique dishes proved advantageous to my sister and aunt, the sooner ordering the Crab Oscar Benedict with Asparagus, Dungeness crab, Poached Eggs, and Citrus Hollandaise atop a round popover. Already hefty and artery clogging with the crab clearly cooked in butter and the lovely hollandaise with just a tinge of lemon, piercing the two creamy eggs with a fork added a whole new level to the dish. With white asparagus adding necessary fiber and texture the entirety of this dish was decadence well worth the calories.
The final choice, my aunts, was another winner – Banana and Mascarpone stuffed French Toast with Saigon cinnamon and pure maple syrup. With bread similarly shaped to that from the popover I gather the toast itself was actually a bread pudding style custard. With a thick layer of banana accented sweet cheese inside and fresh bananas atop the toast was first pan seared and then torch bruleed forming a crisp top that crackled on cutting. With plentiful notes of cinnamon and the maple syrup on the plate instead of being poured over top I really liked the flavor profile and presentation of the dish, as did my aunt who is not keen on maple as she finds it overwhelming.
With tax and tip the total for brunch would run approximately $25 a person – not a bargain compared to the $5 grand slam at Denny’s that we passed to get there, but on par with the prices at Mon Ami Gabi and slightly less pricey than MoZen, Tableau, or Bouchon. With that said, while there was nothing wrong with Morels, it also didn’t move me or wow me and at such a price I’d much sooner take the elevator up to Bouchon at the Venetian than the escalator down to Morels at the Palazzo. The Croque, Frites, French Toast, and Waffles at Bouchon are simply better….and the eggs and crab dish I’d have there on Christmas day left that Benedict a distant memory, regardless of how good it was.
Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro - Las Vegas
3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89103
Todd English P.U.B. - Full review as below, pictures in blog:
Lunch on day three would be perhaps the most low-key spot on our visit to Las Vegas. Located in a shopping mall (albeit an excessively upscale one,) titled with a rather useless acronym, and perhaps the least refined in the growing empire of restaurants from one of America’s more recognizable chefs, Todd English P.U.B. had popped onto my radar with mixed messages. Citing positives including excellent food for the price and a lively atmosphere to watch some Sunday football and negatives such as slow/bad service and loud/uncomfortable seating I decided I’d give them a chance – the menu had a lot of my favorite items, I’d never eaten at a Todd English restaurant, and my last “Pub” experience was a good one at Chicago’s Gage.
Entering the large, crowded, and indeed loud restaurant we were seated without hesitation – happily at a 4-top in the back with a direct view of the Eagles game and the workings of the kitchen. Handed menus and asked about beverage choices just before the noise reached an apex as Deshawn Jackson returned a last second punt to stun the Giants, the mood throughout the restaurant was definitely up-tempo. Packed as the restaurant was, our server John K seemed a bit disheveled early in the meal and drinks were slow to come, refills nonexistent, and plates waited for some time under the heat lamps at the bar before delivery. Once the restaurant became less frenetic service did improve and John actually became quite cordial.
Not wanting to overindulge too much considering the evening’s plans, we decided to start with a shared appetizer and an entrée each. Though delivery of the items was somewhat delayed (30 minutes after seating before orders were taken and about 25 before the appetizer arrived) we were given a bucket of hot buttered popcorn to pass the time and when our first course arrived it was as good as our server had suggested. “Dirty Chips” consisted of a large pile of house cut kettle chips topped with bits of crispy house cured bacon, tomatoes, chopped scallions, chunks of blue cheese, blue cheese dressing, and fried chicken livers. Never one to eat processed snack foods this was a rare experience for me with potato chips (or popcorn) and although the others ate more than myself, I loved the way the crisp chips held up to the ample toppings and despite the sheer gluttons of the dish the flavor profile was nicely balanced, albeit quite heavy.
While we were still picking at the remains of our chips (we sent some back to the kitchen as the portion was enormous) our main courses began to arrive. Starting with my sister’s choice, the Veggie Muffuletta, I will note that where PUB succeeds with meat it fails with vegetables. Featuring a grilled portobello burger, roasted red pepper, grilled zucchini, garlicky spinach, red onion, salsa verde, mozzarella cheese on a hoagie roll along with a bucket of pickled vegetables the sandwich was certainly ample for $15 but the taste was largely lacking. With the salsa verde (actually presented as a smear beneath half of the sandwich) tasting bitter and sour there was really nothing “muffuletta” about the sandwich and the only saving grace was the pickled vegetables, particularly the cauliflower.
A significant improvement from the Muffuletta would be my mother’s selection, the “Grichebactom.” Described as the “workman’s” grilled cheese I’m not so sure many “workmen” find this in their lunchbox, but the combination of grilled sourdough, creamy brie cheese, double smoked bacon, and fresh tomatoes with a side of skinny fries was certainly delicious. Using the fries largely as a delivery mechanism for Chef English’s signature ketchup and BBQ sauce the chunky ketchup was outstanding, loaded with smoke and garlic while the BBQ was a tad sweeter than I’d prefer. Seeing that we were enjoying them John actually packed up both bottles to go home with our leftovers, as well.
For my aunt’s main course she selected the BLT Sliders with Nueskes bacon, roma tomato, maple aioli, and skinny fries, an interesting choice given her aversion to maple syrup. Served as three buttery rolls loaded with supple bacon, sweet tomatoes, and crisp lettuce the aioli was actually quite mild and more hickory than maple. Another large portion considering the price and ingredients a whole sandwich ended up packed to go home along with most of the fries.
Never one to order simply I instead chose to order two appetizers as a main and both were excellent. Beginning first with the duck buns – a rather Asian inspired dish placing confit leg in an aromatic and sweet hoisin sauce on steamed buns, my first bite was good – the confit excellent. Next adding the cucumber slaw and cool yogurt sauce, this is where the buns truly shined – as good as any steamed bun I’ve had, whether Dim Sum or David Chang.
The final savory would be the Lobster Poppie with yorkshire pudding, creamy corn, and brown butter lobster. Essentially a pot pie with a significant portion of buttery fresh lobster baked atop flaky pastry and dressed In chipotle sauce and house made sweet cream corn the flavors were excellent, though the chipotle was a tad overwhelming in bites where too much had soaked into the pastry. Listed as a sharable appetizer I’m not sure how well this would divide as it was rather small, but as a main course it would satisfy most.
Like our previous day at Serrano we considered skipping dessert in favor of a visit to Jean Phillipe but a quick look at the menu made that unlikely. First ordering a coffee, again Illy, dessert was ordered without hesitation. For my choice I selected my obvious must-order; Mona’s bread pudding with English toffee sauce, salted caramel ice cream, cap’n crunch. A large brick of lovely custardized bread with a bruleed top, the bread pudding itself was loaded with cinnamon, sugar, and rum. Resting in a boozy toffee sauce that tasted largely butterscotch and topped with whipped cream and salty caramel ice cream the dish was finished with a playful handful of children’s cereal. Intensely sweet but subtle in the way all the ingredients contributed to the overall flavor the dish was simple and wonderful – a top 10 bread pudding.
An admirer of all things Nutella, my mother’s sweet selection was the oddly named “Ninja Snacks,” a plate of eight crispy wontons filled with nutella and banana served with “ninja sauce” that tasted quite similar to my English toffee. Naming issues aside, the wontons themselves were excellent and absolutely stuffed with filling. Using sliced banana instead of a puree lent texture beyond the crispy wrappers and while the sauce wasn’t necessary it certainly didn’t hurt.
Less successful than the others, my aunt’s choice was “The Elvis,” a dish described as pound cake, peanut butter, brûléed bananas, maple bacon and served with a shirley temple. Delivered as two “sandwiches” utilizing pound cake as the bread it really isn’t that the dish was poorly designed as it was that the cake was simply too dry. Tasty otherwise, especially the bacon/maple/banana/peanut butter combination, the Shirley Temple was very sweet and obviously added more for kitsch than flavor. The chocolate covered peanut was also quite tasty.
My sister’s choice, entitled Chocolate Rendezvous, would essentially represent a chocolate crème brulee topped with peanut butter mousse, topped with marshmallow, and then finished in the oven. A parfait of sorts with different textures as the spoon proceeded downward the dish was actually too large for something so rich…like the bread pudding and ninja snacks it was a dessert that could have easily been shared, and so it was.
Drinking more coffee while watching the last seconds of the Colts game we received the bill – less than $40 a person with tax and tip – a Vegas bargain for the quality of the food. With leftovers, ketchup, and bbq sauce packed we returned to the mall and subsequently the strip quite happy with the experience. In a city where the rich and the poor are quite well represented (The amenities, the shopping, the restaurants, and the patrons) it is nice to see there are some places still targeting the “middle” and doing a good job with a “something for everyone” approach. Above average food made from above average ingredients in a nice space at below average prices should keep Mr. English’s P.U.B in business for quite some time, especially if a whole meal can be had at the price of a pair of socks at the shopping center next door.
I have dined several times at Todd English Blue Zoo in Orlando, FL and was more disappointed with each visit. Blue Zoo is a good looking restaurant with a fun menu. The service and food have always been below average to horrendous. Emerills in Orlando works, Emerils in Atlanta was a disaster. Celebrity chefs restaurants in far flung locales are hard to pull off.
3799 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109
re: Edward Tyson
We stopped by P.U.B. at about 11 a.m. after Gina hit Gucci, to celebrate all the good deals she'd gotten. We'd had a big breakfast (I don't want to talk about it except to say that feel full every time I think about it a week and a half later - Hash House A Go Go, what else do I need to say?) so didn't order any food but enjoyed their decent selection of beers (me - I had an interesting flight) and cocktails (Gina). I was sort of surprised at how borderline rude the waitress was (the place was dead, so we weren't taking space from big spenders - and we told the hostess that we only wanted drinks so it's not our fault that she seated us at a table), although the busser could not have been more on-it so we wound up tipping well regardless. (Seriously, though, what is it with these young waitresses who can't say, "Thank you," or "You're welcome"?) We wound up dropping about $60 on a couple rounds of drinks and considered coming back for a meal the next day (which, from your description, it sounds like I would have enjoyed) but Gina was too put off by the waitress' attitude to return.
2605 S Decatur Blvd Ste 103, Las Vegas, NV 89102
Disclaimer: We probably did receive special treatment here, but not because I knew anyone or am anyone special (aside from taking pics, restaurants know nothing of what I write and the blog is entirely free and without ads.) The dessert tasting was set up by request and can be set up for any diner, though they do need advanced notice - additionally, though unadvertised ANYONE can stop in for an a la carte dessert for $20-25 if reservations are made.
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Joel Robuchon Dessert Tasting - Full review as below, pictures in blog:
One year ago a woman named Dara Pierce served as one of the best reservationists I’ve ever worked with and a lovely meal at Joel Robuchon at The Mansion followed. Highlighted by Kamel Guechida’s desserts there was no doubt in my mind that the next visit to Las Vegas would include dinner with The Chef of The Century’s team again. With my family planning to visit with me this year I formulated a plan and once again enlisted Ms. Pierce’s assistance – unfortunately (or fortunately for her) she had received a promotion at MGM and she passed my information on to Emmanuel Cornet, the new Director of Restaurants for Robuchon.
A pleasant and prompt individual, as expected after last year’s experience with Robuchon and Company, Emmanuel proved equally as helpful as Dara and after a few exchanges decisions were made and plans were finalized. As this trip was our first Christmas together as a family in four years I wanted to do something special and knowing my family’s palate I thought a dessert tasting at a Michelin 3-Star restaurant would be perfect. Obviously not wanting to miss out on savories myself I arranged for a solo dining experience at the bar at L’Atelier at 6:00pm followed by dessert at Robuchon at 8:30pm with the ladies for $50 per person.
Arriving at precisely six I was greeted at the hostess podium outside and led quickly to a spot at the end of the bar where I could watch every bit of the kitchen action – from the shaving of thin slices of Iberico de Bellota and Black Truffles to the frying of duck to the shucking of oysters. Similar to my experiences at the counters of Ko, Casa Mono, and The Girl and the Goat the staff was quite interactive with the crowd throughout and the technique on display was as entertaining as any Vegas show. Greeted by the dining room manager first he noted that he was aware that dessert would be next door and presented me the menu before describing the format.
Left to decide on how I would proceed I was suddenly surprised to see Chef Guechida standing in front of me. Chatting for a bit about the restaurant, the dishes he liked best, and the dessert plans he said he’d stop by later once we transitioned next door. As I was browsing the menu a glass of Bruno Paillard Champagne was poured, compliments of the chef. Deciding on my order I inquired about a specific dish from the Joel Robuchon menu and was told that Chef Le Tohic could certainly prepare it and send it over as the kitchens were connected.
With my order placed the first course to arrive would be the nightly L’AMUSE-BOUCHE, this evening featuring crémeux de foie gras au Porto et son émulsion au parmesan. Essentially a double shot glass served on a stone the Foie gras parfait with port wine and parmesan foam was lovely. Best eaten with a spoon the liver itself was surprisingly mild and melded perfectly (as expected) with the sweet port. Topped with a foam lending salinity and levity I found this to be a restrained opening flavor that not only paired well with the champagne, but also gave a glimpse of what was to come.
Arriving prior to my second course would be the nightly bread basket. While not the 20+ options available next door, this well culled selection was paired with the same delectable butter from next door. With whole grain rolls, buttery croissant bread, and epi-baguettes I’ll simply say all three were warm and tasty – but after one bite of that croissant bread the others sat untouched.
My first proper course of the evening would be my request from next door – a $65 supplement. Titled LE FOIE GRAS en duo mêlé de pomme ratte comme un carpaccio aux copeaux de truffe blanche, the dish was described as a carpaccio of foie gras and new potatoes topped with black and white truffle shavings. A large portion of foie gras and potatoes I’ll note that the truffles, though present, played a less prominent role than I’d have hoped. With chipped parmesan and thin blades of greens and daikon also intertwined in the dish each bite was a new experience – sometimes with the unctuous liver coming to the forefront and at other times with the truffle perfumed potatoes taking center stage. Though not my favorite dish of the meal, a single bite – foie, daikon, potato, truffle, parmesan – would be the perfect way to describe Robuchon’s cuisine…multiple exotic yet restrained flavors coming together to form something entirely original and perfect.
Never one to skimp on calories derived from duck, the next course would be the third of four foie gras dishes for the evening. Titled LE FOIE GRAS frais de canard cuit au torchon this version would be much more simplistic yet even better than the prior manifestation. For $36 the traditionally poached chilled duck foie gras was delivered as a torchon accompanied by a dusting of espelette and topped with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Sourced from the Gascony region of France the Foie was sweeter than I expected, though not artificially so. Arriving with a plate of grilled country bread I imagine this dish took me ~20-25 minutes to eat as I savored each bite…it was equally good on the croissant roll, as well.
The next course to arrive would be one of L’Atelier’s more famous – and with good cause. LA LANGOUSTINE dans une papillote croustillante au basilica, or Crispy langoustine fritter with basil pesto featured a single Langoustine, sweet and perfect, wrapped in a leaf of basil and flash fried in a batter so thin it was transparent. With the slight crackle of the shell giving way to sweet and snappy shellfish the effect was tremendous alone and better with the streaks of citrus and garlic pesto on the plate. At $22 the price point is certainly not for everyone and if I had to eat Langoustine in Vegas I’d go to Twist first, but I was glad to have experienced this.
Course four was obvious, it featured an egg and that is enough for me - L’OEUF cocotte et sa crème légère de champignons. At $19 this is another relatively famous L’Atelier dish and one whose recipe is widely published (though I’ve not attempted.) Featuring a farm fresh egg steamed until barely firm I watched the dish next covered in sautéed mushrooms by one chef while another whipped a foamy broth of cream, mushroom broth, and butter which was subsequently poured over the mushrooms. Finally topped with salt, pepper, and chili powder the final presentation was visual foam with specks of pepper while beneath lied another perfect balance of ingredients. Smooth and creamy egg, fibrous mushroom, plenty of butter – yet light as a cloud.
The next course would be a revelation – the sort of dish that on paper seems so simple yet in execution makes you realize why you even go to places like L’Atelier in the first place. LE RIS DE VEAU clouté de laurier frais à la feuille de romaine farcie featured a single sweetbread – the largest I’ve ever seen at nearly the size of a tennis balll - pierced with a bay leaf and pan seared in butter, herbs, and veal jus before being paired on the plate with sautéed romaine lettuce in a faintly garlic and dill foam. At $29 the offal itself cut easily with nothing but a fork and at 5-6 mouthfuls were the best tastes of the meal – almost caramelized on the exterior and creamy within. A fan of elaborate dishes it is plates like this that remind me just how exquisite simplicity can be when done right.
My final bites from L’Atelier would be another classic dish and the only one seemingly served at each and every L’Atelier - LA CAILLE au foie gras, caramélisée avec une pomme purée truffée. At $28 the portion was certainly small, but the impact of the caramelized foie gras stuffed free-range quail with Robuchon’s famous truffled-mashed potatoes is undeniable – the whole plate is simply decadence defined. Somewhat unbalanced compared to the other dishes I will note that the crispy quail was quite mild compared to the creamy liver, but obviously it’s not like I mind the flavor of foie gras. The potatoes – there really isn’t anything else that can be said…having had the buttered version last year all I can say is that the truffles make them even better.
Visited again by the manager who assured me it was no rush (the time was 7:45 and we were due at Robuchon at 8:30) I was offered coffee and when I asked who their supplier was I was surprised to hear they’d switched 8 weeks prior from Illy to La Colombe Torrefaction, perhaps my favorite coffee maker. Receiving a French press of Phocea – bold, full, without citrus, and hefty with notes of caramel and vanilla plus a single signature chocolate I sat and chatted with my neighbors for a bit before I was again visited by Kamel who said our table was open and we could come over at our leisure. Settling the L’Atelier bill I will say that the although steep, the only dishes I felt did not justify the cost were the supplemented Foie from next door which was good, but not life altering and the Langoustine which simply couldn’t shine after what I’d experienced at Twist the night before. Outstanding service and a true experience to watch the kitchen I’d definitely head back for a couple courses regularly if I lived locally…and of course to see what Chef Guechida was doing there as he works the pastries for both Robuchon properties.
Walking out the door and turning right I found the ladies waiting – the time was 8:15 and after stopping to snap a few photographs in front of the festive décor we stepped up to the enormous doors where we were greeted by name by the hostess and led to a four top directly behind where I sat the year prior. Expecting extravagance I was not disappointed – the chariot of mignardises and bread cart were as beautiful as ever and the Christmas decorations replacing the previous meal’s autumnal design were nothing less than glorious whites and golds. With a classical Christmas soundtrack playing quietly overhead we were greeted by our severs, Teresa and Bernard, both French and both extensively professional, knowledgeable, helpful, and courteous.
With Kamel coming to the table and introducing himself to the family he asked how many courses we would prefer to which I offered the only logical response – “as many as you like.” With a laugh he informed us he’d prepared us some gifts to take home, as well – and that he’d be serving two different desserts per course – similar but different. He said he’d check on us after the first round to see how things were going and with that our water was poured the meal would begin with cheese.
Delivered tableside by Theresa and described at length with animal, region, AOC designations, and flavor notes the list was too long to remember but almost entirely French. Cheeses I managed to note, largely because they are the ones we ordered, included Saelers, Tome des Bauges, Emmental de Savoie, Beaufort, Mimolette, Brie de Meaux, Cabecou, Cantal, Valencay, Camembert de Normandie, Epoisses de Bourgogne, Laguiole, Comte, Morbier, and Bleu de Bresse. Large portions, easily an ounce each, we received a total of 16 flavors divided into four plates – one ash, one mild and creamy, one pungent, and one aged. Served with a baguette and walnut raisin roll I personally loved the Mimolette, Brie, Valencay, and Morbier.
With cheese plates cleared and everyone anticipating the experience ahead it would be only moments before the first round would appear. Having originally met chef Guechida the previous year when I specifically requested Le Sucre, the dessert presented to my mother and sister would be the winter variation on that dish - La Sphère de Sucre - Fuji apple confit, almond praline cake, Tahitian vanilla sabayon, praline ice cream. The perfect crystal ball shattering with minimal pressure from the spoon, the sweet cream, the supple bread, the ice cream, the fruit – every bit as good as my passion fruit version last fall but even better given my love of apples. While my taste was limited, this would be my second favorite dessert of the night and my mother and sister’s favorite.
Presented to myself and my aunt, La Pomme was also apple – same yet entirely different. Essentially a Baba cake at its base, the choux pastry rested in a creamy and cool Fuji apple mousse and Tahitian vanilla cream, while atop sat a pearl of green apple sorbet and a crispy candied apple fleur. Buttery and smooth, as beautiful in the mouth as to the eye – the flavor was that of a grown up apple dumpling in heavy cream.
Arriving again to the table as promised, Kamel asked us how the first round had went and if he should precede the same, or if we’d prefer him simply send out the same dish for everyone. Loving the variety we said keep going and so the kitchen did. Presented next to my mother and sister would be “Les Banans” a meringue sort of Ille Flotant on ice. With honey mousse at its center atop a mountain of banana ice, the meringue was intentionally unsettled and contained a center of caramelized bananas. Topped with banana chips and lime zest the dish was intensely sweet to be certain, but at the same time self assured and balanced when everything was taken together. A mélange of textures and temperatures and quite light the dish was good, but the alternative was the best of the night.
For my aunt and I, also titled “Les Banans,” the dish would be presented in a long cylindrical glass and the alternating layers would present a parfait of sorts. With alternating layers of fresh cut banana, house made vanilla wafers, nougat, honeycomb, banana cream, and milk sorbet this dish was perhaps the least “fussed with” of the night (aside from the black plate painted with edible gold pain) but the flavors worked perfectly. Bite by bite, taste by taste, each spoonful offered a totally different taste and sensation. I think my favorite thing about the dish aside from its flavor was the simplicity - If one had all the ingredients this is the sort of thing that could be easily arranged at home, although perhaps not as attractively, as a true stunner for guests.
The following course would be the first time two entirely different items would appear – and thankfully it worked out without any plate envy. First presented to my mother and my sister (who is picky about oranges) was “L'Orange,” a light and refreshing citrus dessert featuring orange segments poached in an infusion of Ceylon Pekoe tea at top and bottom. Between the orange layers would be a thin layer of salty caramel, a bruleed layer of yogurt mousse, a quenelle of orange sorbet, and crunchy bits that tasted like pralines made from macadamia nuts. Gladly swapping my sister the flavor profile was actually quite unique and unexpected with the notes of tea actually substantially smoothing out the citrus and allowing the caramel to shine.
The alternative dish which I traded to my sister would be La Poire – confit anjour pear, foam of almonds and Anisette, pear sorbet. Largely liquid with small chunks of intensely sweet pear beneath this would be my second dessert with licorice tones in two days and again it would serve notice that when used with restraint the flavor can be quite pleasant. With almond top notes and the licorice flavor only present on the palate the dish was a solid palate cleanser for what was next, but certainly not as stellar as the orange.
With no meal complete without something chocolate our last dessert would Le Chocolat, again in two entirely different forms – both pairing well with yet another French Press of Coffee from La Colombe Torrefaction. Comprised as a sort of parfait, the first dish arrived in a cup with a chocolate shell over the top. Beneath the shell, chocolate wafers, chocolate mousse, chocolate butter cake, chocolate ganache, and winter fruit confit. Using 66% Valrhona as the based and some lighter chocolates throughout the dish was exactly what the ingredients would dictate – a little citrus, a lot chocolate, and texturally lovely.
The second dish would be my preferred option of the two, again titled Le Chocolat this choice would pair white chocolate sabayon with lemon confit at the base and add the topping of rich coffee Ice cream, chocolate ribbons, and caramelized walnuts. Hesitant at first as I don’t prefer citrus toned coffees let alone lemon and coffee together, the white chocolate cream actually masked the citrus quite nicely and if anything the lemon actually helped to enhance the more floral notes of the coffee and chocolate combination.
Getting quite full the trolley of mignardises would arrive next with the a selection that included but was not limited to: Passion fruit marshmallow, salted caramels, confit ginger covered with chocolate, chocolate dome, dark truffle with mint, chocolate covered orange peel, liquid caramel centered chocolate, pinapple pate a fruit, white chocolate bark with puffed rice and orange, a chouxcette, strawberry cheesecake in white chocolate, tuile of almond and citrus, pear gelee filled with brandy, blackberry opera cake, chocolate religieux, blueberry financier, dry pineapple with white chocolate, raspberry praline, canele, white nougat, and at least 15 other selections. Choices made I’ll note the while the canele was a bit soft, the financier, opera cake, pear gelee, and cheesecake were all sublime.
As we were finishing up and the clock was reaching 11:00pm the restaurant was largely emptied out and Chef Guechida would once again stop by to say hello. With coffees refilled we chatted for perhaps 5 minutes before he said he had a surprise and returned with two Robuchon shopping bags filled with gifts. Explaining his philosophy a bit and telling us that it was an honor to have people come in to simply experience dessert we were bid a Merry Christmas before he returned to work. I will note here that when the bill arrived there was a small glitch – apparently Monsieur Cornet had never passed along the agreed upon price and we were charged a la carte - $25 for each dessert plus $15 each for the cheeses – but this was sorted without question and apologies were offered from both sides…them for failing to note this detail and us for getting out of such an unbelievable experience for such a bargain. Leaving a substantial tip and thanking Teresa (who only then did I realize had been my primary server a year before) before asking for a group picture we made our way out the doors full of great food and even better memories.
Returning to the hotel and delving through the contents of our bags would prove even more embarrassing – an embarrassment of riches. Containing two loaves of Banana Walnut Bread, two loaves of Raisin Cherry Bread, a loaf of Country bread, a loaf of Sourdough, a Baguette, a Panettone, four pure Valhrona chocolate bars, and three boxes of chocolates from the mignardise carte (94 pieces total) I was stunned. Also in the bag would be a hand written letter from Dara Pierce thanking us for choosing to dine at the restaurant and offering her assistance should I even want to book or look at properties at the MGM in the future.
With 6 days left in our trip but plenty of meals planned I’ll note that the consumption of the gifts went slow and that there are now some happy birds in Southern California who have dined on Michelin 3-Star Bread, but each of the options were tasted and the Pannetone and Banana Walnut Bread went quickly. Having not had a Pannetone since my grandfather passed in 1998 (he loved the stuff) I’ll note that this was much better than his store bought brand – almost a brioche in texture, loaded with cinnamon and citrus tones, and full of currants, raisins (golden and dark,) dried cherries, and apricot. The banana bread was equally luxurious with fresh bananas, plenty of nutmeg, candied walnuts, and gold dusted chocolate filling each bite.
Sitting at home and looking back at the pictures and experience it is really difficult for me to do justice to the food, treatment, and experience we received at Robuchon that evening. While restaurants are clearly in the service industry there is a difference between doing what is necessary and truly going above and beyond what expected. While I work hard for the opportunities to do the things I love with the people I love I certainly was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but for those 270 minutes between L’Atelier and Joel Robuchon my family and I were treated like royalty…and even two weeks later we’re giving out chocolates to friends and family to share the memories.
L'Atelier De Joel Robuchon
3799 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
Without getting too much into my history, a look at my blog will show I'm quite thin - it is a choice based on the way I live day to day. I eat with a mind toward health when I'm not on vacation and aside from the meals listed here, or on the blog (usually both) I do all my own cooking and rarely eat outside the home. I was quite obese as a child/teen and have done much to correct that.
I think it is important to share experiences with the people you care about - and I like the chowhound vibe as the folks here seem to care about food and usually provide excellent recommendations on where to go and what to eat. I write the "reviews" for my own memory and to share with folks so they can have equally good visits to vacation spots. The "blog" world has really made travel so much better for the epicurious.
Great review! The Robuchon team clearly knows how to treat it's customers.. It's why I continue to go back time and time again.. I feel like family eating at both L'atelier and JR.. That Foie dish that you got from next door looked amazing!! Having dessert next door was an excellent idea.. My gf was totally jealous of that and said we have to do that next time..
Strongly recommend it - just call in advance.
And regarding the family comments - couldn't agree more - the only places where I've felt equally accepted, taken care of, and fawned over were The French Laundry, Per Se, Gramercy Tavern, and La Folie. I also ate with a person "known to the house" at Modo Mio in Philadelphia which was quite the experience.
First off, great review, great blog as well.
I was actually scheduled to go L'Atelier later this month, but I called to ask if I could also do a dessert tasting afterwards at the mansion. Surprisingly, I was told that "We don't do just desserts in the main restaurant."
I was hoping that you knew someone I could ask for to see if this was actually possible? Should I just ask for Mr. Cornet?
Any advice you could give would be most helpful.
Just tried to snag the "desserts only" option at Robuchon for our trip in April, also got the "we don't do just desserts". Will try again. Any other thoughts for making inroads on this? If this is a no-go, suggestions for desserts/drinks around 9:30/10pm??? Our friends are going to a show, so it'll end up being sorta late.