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L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

I realized how much I love reading other people’s reviews of restaurants. After all, it paints a clear picture of what I should be expecting at a new restaurant. In that same vein, I will start posting my dining experiences here. This is actually my second entry, with the first being The French Laundry. You’ll notice two changes. First, I’ll keep it much shorter, focusing on the restaurant – food and service. Second, I’ll post the cost of the meal at the expense of negative comments. It’s actually a frustration of mine trying to hunt down the cost of a restaurant. Most sites have symbols like $$$$ means very expensive. What exactly does that mean? $60 or $260? On to my review.

I planned the Vegas trip that Claire and I (and Ted as a late addition) were going to make in mid-November 2007. Our main intent was to go to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra and we decided to make a vacation out of it. We ate at many places, but the big meal of the trip was L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon inside MGM. It’s right next to Joel Robuchon: The Mansion which is a Michelin 3 star restaurant. L’Atelier is a 1 star establishment.

I made reservations online and they called me to confirm. We got there a few minutes early and were seated immediately at the bar. This is the first thing that stood out to me. There are a few tables around the perimeter but everyone mostly sat at the bar. I realize this is supposed to be a chic modern concept but I have mixed feelings about it. The waiters (who stood behind the counter the entire time) were all friendly but they did not seem to enjoy their jobs. We never received bad service but I don’t think it was very positive either. We both ordered the Discovery (tasting) menu and wine by the glass.

Foie gras parfait with port wine and parmesan foam

I thought this was delicious. Foams are being done a lot but I am not complaining. I think it adds a great dimension of flavor without any extra heaviness.

Langoustine carpaccio with roasted poppy seed dressing

Excellent dish. Surprisingly a bit sweet and great texture with the crunch of the poppy seed. Interesting spice mixture on top of the plate

Poached baby Kussi oysters with French « Echiré » butter

I am not a fan of cooked oysters but every fine dining establishment I have been to keeps serving them to me. Luckily, they all were good. Great tasting oysters with a noticeable butter element. Saltiness from the sea, plus extra salt mixture if you so inclined. A squeeze of lime to add freshness.

Egg cocotte topped with a light mushroom cream

I don’t remember much about this dish. I think Claire liked it.

Truffled cappuccino of pumpkin with chestnuts

Loved this dish. I don’t really like chestnuts but it added great texture. Truffles on top always make a good dish better. Good mouthfeel.

Halibut filet steamed with lemon-thyme butter, spring vegetable

Did not like this dish. I should have known when the couple next to us sent it back twice, though their problem was it was undercooked.

Free-range quail stuffed with foie gras and served with truffled-mashed potatoes

My problem with quail as a main is that you get a very small serving. However, this was a perfect dish so I did not mind. You see the trademark Robuchon truffled-mashed potatoes on the right. We also got another mini-casserole pot of it on the side. A nice flavorful reduction of the jus drizzled around. This was my choice for the main.

Veal picatta served with arugula salad

Claire’s main. I did not like this much. There was something in it that irritated my throat.

Frosted fresh papaya juice, banana sorbet

One of my favorite dishes of the night. I never would have thought to combine papaya and banana but it’s the perfect flavor combination. It should be in every cookbook along with mint and chocolate, peanut butter and banana … you get the idea. The crunchy pieces were sweet, but I forgot what they were from.

Coffee ice cream, espresso mousse and crunchy brownie

I liked this but pretty predictable and not very original. How can you really go wrong with coffee and brownies?


I realize I like ending big meals with coffee or tea. This was good for what it is. Just a simple cappuccino. Small Robuchon branded chocolate behind the cup.

All in all an excellent meal. I have mixed feelings about the decor, I think the service could be better, but the food was on point. I would return or try the Mansion next time but I’d have to save up twice as much.

Total for two: $400.

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