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Joel Robuchon at the Mansion. Las Vegas

  • j

Sorry, but some of the starstruck reviews I've read about this place strike me as intimidated customers afraid to admit that what they were served was VASTLY substandard. It reminds me of Modern Art museums, where the intimidated masses, so sure that THEY are the blind ones because they can't see that a few soup cans welded together don't symbolize "Man's inhumanity to man" that they go home raving about the brilliant "art" they've seen, rather than take a chance on looking "unsophisticated" by pointing out that what they saw was a bunch of garbage welded together. Which brings us to the food at Joel Robuchon's new place in Vegas.

In short, Robuchon at the Mansion is a JOKE. I've eaten at 3 or 4 top-rated restaurants in Paris, and Robuchon doesn't even register on the same *scale*. I can think of 40 restaurants in Las Vegas I'd eat in before going back to this culinary pest hole. Bland, silly in many cases and totally uninspiring. In his lust to avoid ANYTHING that may have been done before ("inovators" don't do that, doncha know) Robuchon sends out unlikely and in most cases most unfortunate dishes that defy the imagination in their blandness.

The main course, for example (he cooks EXACTLY the same dishes every....single...night, by the way, so you'd think he'd get it right) is a boring slice of veal with a few drops of insipid demi-glace (slightly thickened broth, in a nutshell). I've had more flavorful bites at the Sizzler, and I'm serious about that. And the veal was one of the better dishes.

When I say he cooks the same dishes every night....that's what I mean. You get NO choice. They actually make the EXACT same first, second, third, etc. courses every night. Apart from an APPALLING lack of imagination, it's just mind boggling that since the chefs have zero pressure, since they can just mass produce the exact same dishes for each and every customer....that it still comes out so bad.

We paid $600 for two, with two VERY modest wines, something you must settle for, since they overcharge to a CRIMINAL level for wines. An 82 Cheval Blanc, for example, a bottle I bought at auction for $600 recently..was....wait for it.....$3,300. This is criminal robbery...they are charging you $2,700 extra to drink this wine in their restaurant....all the while eating food that NEVER....not once, reaches the level of good...let alone exceptional.

If you want fairly good, and more classic French, try the Eifel Tower at Paris. I have a couple of minor gripes with the Eifel Tower, but the food, despite a few quirky flaws, is LIGHT YEARS better (and 1/2 as expensive) as Robuchon.

Believe me...I'm not some irrate ex-employee (haha, the place hasn't been open long enough to *have* any irrate ex-employees, just irrate ex-CUSTOMERS)...I'm just a guy who LOVES French cuisine, and cooks it pretty well himself (certainly better than Robuchon)

I honestly can't think of a single thing we had that was anything more than a 5 out of 10...except the bread, which was great.

AVOID THIS TOURIST TRAP at all costs, trust. me. There are 50 restaurants in Vegas with better food, most of them costing about 1/3 of this travesty.

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  1. i
    Irwin Singeri

    Excellent writeup.....
    Thanks a million
    Glad you spoke up

    1. a
      alice (let's eat!)

      Interesting perspective...have you seen the Food & Wine rave Jane Sigal wrote for this month's issue?

      1. Just curious, have you eaten at any of Robuchon's restaurants in Paris?

        1. Hands down one of the best meals I have ever eaten in my life. The true nature of Robuchons food is his departure from the stuffy french traditional prestentations and values. His influence by the Japanese is very wonderful. His food is rooted in french and simplistic in presentation. He does not depart from the true flavors of the food. I am sorry you had a bad meal. I was blown away.

          1. My experience at Robuchon at that Mansion was stellar. If you do not like a particular course, they will substitute it for you. I found the Mansion to be at a higher level than a couple of the "famed Paris 3 stars" that I had the opportunity to try while over there. Did you express your dissatisfaction with the meal to the restaurant? In terms of price, there is what I call "Vegas Inflation" that is prevelant at any of the top restos that I have eaten at in Las Vegas. I am sorry that your experience there would cause you to term it a culinary pest hole and I suggest that you write the GM Loic Launay a letter and express your thoughts. Did you try L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, because that is a place most chefs in Vegas recommend to go and graze thru some of JR's small plates.

            1. I'm also sorry that you had such a bad experience at Joel Robuchon because I thought it was the most amazing meal I have ever eaten in my entire life! My husband and I had the privilege of dining there this past weekend and treated ourselves to the 16-course menu. Each course was bursting with ingenious flavors and super-luxurious ingredients, and the presentation was creative beyond words - almost too pretty to eat. This was indeed culinary artistry at its absolute best, exceptional in every way, and left me wondering how one would even think to combine such ingredients to the create such masterful perfection. Although the price is steep, it is well worth the extra $100+ to triple your gastronomic pleasures with the 16-course menu. We have dined at some of the best restaurants in the world - Le Cinq, Taillevant, The French Laundry, Per Se, Alain Ducasse in the Plaza Athenee, Entoteca Pinciorri, etc - and I have to admit that Joel Robuchon tops them all!! I am not trying to disparage the other restaurants, because they were all undeniably incredible in their own right, but the innovative execution of each course, combined with superb service and incredible detail in the presentation, Robuchon triumphs over them all. The price is not for the faint of heart, but you really do get what you pay for in the end. The generous use of super-luxurious ingredients such as black truffles, caviar, gold leaf, and fois gras is not my idea of bland and uninspriring. I really wish you would have spent the extra money to get most out of your experience at Robuchon. The meal was FLAWLESS, unbelievably decadent, and exceeded my expectations in every way. I couldn't wait to share my wonderful experience and recommend it to everyone I know. And no, I do not work for the restaurant or MGM. I'm just a very satisfied customer who can't wait to dine there again.

              2 Replies
              1. re: maita

                Your review is making me want to say 'screw it' and just go to Robuchon. Don't know if I can get the others I go with to fork over that kind of money, tho...they'd go for Le Atelier.

                1. re: elrushbo

                  Trust me, my husband and I had a difficult time nodding to the $360 16-course menu at first, but compared to the 6-course, it was far more interesting and just loaded with decadent goodies. The menu reads like a veritable list of the most luxurious ingredients in the world. We are not millionaires who can afford to splurge like this all the time, but we wanted to treat ourselves to an incredible meal and thought Joel Robuchon was the perfect restaurant to splurge. It's definitely a once-in-a-lifetime type of meal and the mecca for all foodies.

              2. I also have to disagree with most of the complaints in this rant. I have not done the Mansion but have done L'Atelier twice now (my report on most recent experience at L'Atelier and others is at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/353029), and unless the Mansion is a notably different food experience, have trouble understanding these gripes.

                (1) Bland, silly and uninspired - I always get nervous when people talk about "simple" dishes that "let the ingredients shine," blah blah... I went to Chez Panisse and was just bored silly by everything I had. My 2 experiences at L'Atelier were the exact opposite. Yes, most dishes only highlight maybe 3-4 ingredients and sometimes less - but I thought in almost all cases they worked beautifully together (and I'm not usually one to say that).

                (2) Same dishes every night - this was my second time to L'Atelier (first was a couple months after they had opened, second was less than a year later), and more than half the tasting menu had changed, as had several items on the regular menu. Hardly standing still. Do they make the same dishes on Tuesday that they did on Monday? Of course. So does just about every other restaurant in the world, except for daily specials. Shouldn't be something to complain about unless you're going every day (and if you're going every day, you apparently have so much money to burn that you shouldn't complain about anything!). I'd hardly say there's zero pressure on the kitchen - yes they're turning out the same dish a bunch of times a night (that's what line cooks do!!!) but at L'Atelier where you can see them work, it is amazing the level of concentration and precision that goes into each dish.

                (3) No choice - in this sense Mansion is probably different from L'Atelier where there's both a tasting menu and a regular menu. The couple next to us wanted to do the tasting menu but one did not eat meat and the kitchen gladly adjusted the menu without fuss. I'd be astonished if they wouldn't do the same if there's something you don't eat on the Mansion menu too.

                (4) overpriced wine list - here I absolutely completely agree. The wine list at L'Atelier was outrageous as I noted in my post. I hate when restaurants do this. I'm curious whether other places in MGM Grand similarly gouge - when I called L'Atelier in advance of our visit to ask if they could send a copy of the wine list, they declined saying it was against the MGM Grand's policy. Probably BS.

                (5) Eiffel Tower is better - haven't been, but forgive me if I'm dubious. But perhaps it's a matter of taste - I wouldn't say Robuchon does "classic French," if that's what you're looking for it's probably not the right place.

                (6) 50 better restaurants in LV - please name them. I could use the list for my next visit!

                3 Replies
                1. re: Frodnesor

                  What other places have you dined at in Vegas? How did Le Atelier compare?

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    MGM is notoriously high in their markup. The highest on The Strip. 3 1/2x is the standard and sometimes 4x+ for rarer bottles.

                    Knowing that the OP was dining at the MGM - an '82 Cheval Blanc @ $3,300 isn't that bad ( relatively speaking, of course - I, myself, could NEVER afford a luxury like that ). He could've paid over $12K at Prime for an '82 Petrus. Heh.

                    1. re: azbirdiemaker

                      I actually found the Atelier wine list somewhat less prohibitive on my more recent visit. Report is here ->

                  2. Sorry to hear about your bad experience. I went to Joël Robuchon at the Mansion about a year ago and thought it was the best restaurant in the US, in my experience. Went to L'Atelier in NYC four times in October and found it to be similarly wonderful. For reference I also like Jean Georges and Le Bernardin in NYC and Alex in Las Vegas. I strongly disliked Alain Ducasse in NYC and was not happy with Bradley Ogden in Las Vegas last year (although liked it a lot four years ago). I drink no alcohol so don't notice wine prices.

                    1. Elrushbo - on the high and semi-high end, we've done:


                      L'Atelier was hands-down my favorite of the bunch and probably one of the top 3-5 restaurants I've ever been to. My wife, who is not a huge fan of the whole tasting-menu routine, loves it too. (I really like Bouchon as well but I put it in a different category. They do what they do very well - French bistro style - but it's not as creative, and isn't trying to be).

                      1. To call Joel Robuchon at the Mansion "bland and uninspiring" is just ludicris. It's definitely not "classic French" by any means. It's rather a blend of French and Asian - Kobe beef, turbot w/5 spices, and sea urchin w/potato puree and a hint of coffee (foam). The latter struck me as too exotic at first, but it was surprisingly delicious! The juxtaposition worked really, really well and captured the essence of Robuchon's culinary innovation. The sea urchin was pureed and offered a delicate hint of the sea, which somehow balanced the sweetness of the potato puree (a dish Robuchon is famous for) and the coffee hinted foam. Another wonderful Asian/French combination was the tuna flan topped with asparagus cream and Oscetra caviar - simply amazing! On the onset, one would be turned off by the idea of tuna flan, but preparing it in such a way created a slightly salty, very palatable custard that simply melted in your mouth, combining well with the cool asparagus cream and bursts of caviar. It was incredible, as were all the other courses. I believe we had more than 16 courses, as they print out the menu of the night for you to take home, and we remember having at least 1 course that was not listed on the menu.

                        I have to also praise the Sommelier for being on-spot with his wine recommendation. I am a very picky wine drinker - I love a good, full bodied white with lots of fruit and low acidity. This can be challenging when trying to pick something off the wine list, but the Sommelier nailed it right on the head. Also worth noting was the fact that it wasn't expensive at all - $100 for an amazing Sauvignon Blanc from Slovenia, of all places. It was the best wine I have had in a really long time and really complemented the meal nicely. When inquiring about the wine we had with dinner, they printed us a special card with all the information for the wine and included the Sommelier's card. I thought this was a very nice touch.

                        Another thing worth mentioning is that they sent us home with a very impressive round of freshly baked brioche from their bakery. It was admittedly a great cure for our hangover the next morning!

                        1. I wouldn't get too worked up about this reviewer-seems pretty obvious he didn't go to Robuchon. He couldn't describe one dish, and when he said Sizzler was more flavorful, that about did it. These forums don't usually get flamers, I'm suprised.

                          1. Hello, I had a very, very, similar experience at l'Atelier. Horrible service, good food, but certainly not worth the price ($500 for two with two beers, and one bottle of wine that retails for about $25, but was of course $80 on their list) But I was wondering, would you mind providing some of the restaurants you liked in Vegas? I find over and over again that everything is over-priced, trading on brand rather than food.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: divinemissmoe

                              Best bang for the buck is at Ellis Island, buck microbrews and five buck steaks and barbecue.

                              1. re: divinemissmoe

                                it helps to kno w your standards - where do you live ? name some of your local gems and what you normally pay for a meal ?

                              2. I plan on being in Vegas either the 2nd or 4th weekend of February and on the top of my list of things to do is to dine at the Mansion, notwithstanding the negative comments on this thread. I don't know if it will be the best dining experience of my life, but I've been fortunate to dine at some of the better restaurants in the U.S., e.g. Per Se, The French Laundry, Alinea. So at least I'll have a frame of reference. I'll be ordering the 16 course menu because, well, I can't imagine going to a place like the Mansion and "just" ordering 6 courses. I'll give a report on my return.

                                /s/ JackWESQ

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: JackWESQ

                                  I am a little alarmed that this post ranks so highly in a Google search; I can't imagine any serious, well-informed eater holding opinions like the writer expresses. For starters, I am never "too intimidated" to admit to be disappointed in some three-star food palace; I've eaten at my share of them, and never hesitate to complain about an emperor having no clothes. Mansion Robuchon is in the opposite category -- probably the greatest meal I've had in my life. (I've eaten at all the big French places in New York, as well as at Arpege in Paris.) I was a walk-in, by myself, without a reservation, dresses sub-casually in khakis and a dingy sweater, in other words, about as low on the prestige scale as you can get. Yet I was treated with nothing but the most courteous professionalism; my waiter dealt with me no different than the tony couple next to me. And when the sommelier learned I was interested in a tour of the kitchen, he came by and conducted it himself, insisting that we go while the chefs were still working, rather than wait till the cleaning crews had taken over. The food was visually stunning and with an intensity of flavors and precision of execution like nothing I had ever encountered. (L'Atelier, next door, where I had eaten at two night before, was close.) I was also struck by the way the menu wasn't "dumbed down" for the American, especially Las Vegas, market. I can't imagine how the whole experience could have been improved upon -- I often hear that "three-star" dining in the US isn't quite up to the level of Paris, but it’s beyond me how this could have been better anywhere. (The bread trays! The petit-four trays!) I had the 12-course menu, with two glasses of wine at $30 each, and the meal with tip came to $525 or so. That's more than I have ever paid to eat, but I regretted nothing. As long as you know in advance the meal is going to be very, very expensive, and as long as you understand that this is "grand cuisine" -- check some of the posts on egullet to see what dishes look like, as well as the menu at the Robuchon web site to see -- I can’t imagine how you will be disappointed. Robuchon is this cuisine done as well as mere mortals will ever be able to do it.

                                2. i agree, from the start im not sure how you get out of the mansion for 600 for 2 with two wines, tax+tip....but foodiema, olives on the same level as RL and Tuesdays, ouch. is it that bad :-)

                                  1. I completely agree. It was the most overrated meal of my life. We are looking for a great french restaurant in Vegas and will probably try the Eiffel Tower next. Thanks for your eloquent review.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: johnnolesmd

                                      Though this review is from three and a half years ago - not very current info....

                                      1. re: johnnolesmd

                                        If you're looking for a good French restaurant in Vegas, may I suggest some of the following BEFORE Eiffel Tower:

                                        Guy Savoy - Second best meal of my life behind The French Laundry. Well worth the price of admission

                                        Andre's - Original location in "downtown" Vegas is the preferred spot. Fantastic cuisine at a reasonable ( read: "non-Strip" ) price.

                                        Bouchon - I'd even head here before Eiffel Tower. Not quite the level of frills but the food is unmatched.

                                        1. re: azbirdiemaker

                                          Sadly, Andre's downtown is no more. You can still go to Andre's at the Monte Carlo or Alize at the Palms.

                                          1. re: lvnvflyer

                                            Really??? Wow, that's a bummer. How long has it been closed down? I haven't been in ages ( obviously ) but remember how great of a place it used to be.

                                      2. I'm having dinner tonight at Joel Robuchon at The Mansion. If it is as wonderful as my dinner there last year, I'm going to be one very happy woman. BTW, I had a stellar dinner last night at Le Cirque. Chef Pugin is doing amazing things, and the service was impeccable. Will definitely return.

                                        1. I have to admit that I think the food at Joel Robuchon is fantastic. With that said, I just cancelled my reservation for this month as a result of their outragious corkage fees. I find it incredibly offensive that its $100.00 per bottle. That is just ludicris. I'm an avid wine collector who knows what wine cost and understands the economics of a restaurant, but can't stand being ripped off. All this policy does from my perspective is actually lose the restaurant money because I either (i) come to the restaurant and don't drink at all or (ii) have a glass or two of wine per person at most or I just go somewhere else where their corkage policy is more liberal. I'm sure I'm not alone when I tell you that I won't be dining at JR because of their corkage policy. Maybe their business is so good that my $2000 cover for 4 people is not really worth it to them. We're going to somewhere else where they'll appreciate our business. I hope others do the same.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Zunga

                                            After 3 trips to l'atelier and our first trip to Jr mansion, we can honestly say that we would rather sit at the bar at l'atelier anytime. It is one of our favorite places anywhere.

                                            1. re: Zunga

                                              If you have no problem paying $2000 to feed 4 ppl then what's the problem with the $100 corkage fee? I have definitely spent more money on more ridiculous things.