L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas

L'atelier

After the disappointment of London’s 2 Michelin star restaurant “The Square“, we were now firmly back on track with our recent visit to the Las Vegas outpost of  “L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon”. Frenchman Robuchon is a restaurant legend and a pioneer of nouvelle cuisine. His clutch of restaurants hold a total of no less than 18 Michelin stars. He once temporarily deafened his then protégé Gordon Ramsay by throwing a langoustine at his ear. I like him already…

L’Atelier (meaning “workshop”) is based on serving “tasting plates”, similar to Gordon Ramsay’s Maze. The L’Atelier chain has been rolled out across the globe, at nine locations including Paris, London, New York and Tokyo. The dining room is sleek and stylish, with a prominent Japanese influence, allegedly from Robuchon’s time spent consulting in Japan.

From the Robuchon website:

The concept? A kitchen opened on a circular bar with 36 seats that allows clients to follow the service, to watch the succession of dishes, and to compose their own meal according to their appetite, as the menu offers all the great classics to taste in small, tapas-style portions.

Mediterranean vegetables layered with buffalo mozzarella

Mediterranean vegetables layered with buffalo mozzarella – this dish was served as an amuse bouche, but it’s a scaled down version of one of the dishes on the tasting menu. I think this is a nice touch – presumably the kitchen serves each diner a different amuse bouche, depending on what you’ve ordered. This dish was simple, but it had bags of flavour, especially the intensely flavoured basil pesto.

Iberico de Bellota ham with toasted tomato bread

Iberico de Bellota ham with toasted tomato bread – the first starter, ordered by The Wife. “Bellota” is the champagne of Iberico hams, made from pigs that have grazed extensively on acorns. The finely sliced ham, served on waxed paper, was incredibly sweet and fragrant. The bruschetta was very simple, but made with fantastically sweet tomatoes. A quality dish.

White onion tart with smoked bacon and asparagus

White onion tart with smoked bacon and asparagus – once again, we have a very simple dish, but it was packed with flavours and immaculately presented. Sweet and smoky bacon on perfectly crisp pastry.

Maine lobster in a ring of macaroni and a light cream broth

Maine lobster in a ring of macaroni and a light cream broth – why is it that any dish that comprises of lobster looks amazing? This dish was proclaimed by The Wife to be “incredible” and indeed, it looked so. A fort of macaroni contained soft lobster meat and was surrounded by a rich and flavourful bisque. The boss awarded top marks for this one.

Foie gras ravioli in a warm chicken broth with herbs

Foie gras ravioli in a warm chicken broth with herbs – this dish was extraordinary. The foie gras liquifies inside the ravioli, so when you chew you get a explosion of warm, intensely rich liquid – a most peculiar sensation. The broth was excellent, very intensely flavoured. This dish was accompanied by a bowl of cream dusted with sumac pepper. I tried a blob of the cream in the broth, but I preferred it without as the broth lost some of it’s intensity.

Steamed seabass fillet with spicy confit peppers

Steamed seabass fillet with spicy confit peppers – The Wife sat this course out while greedy-guts indulged. Excellent flavours as expected, but nothing remarkable.

Foie gras stuffed free-range quail with truffled-mashed potatoes

Foie gras stuffed free-range quail with truffled-mashed potatoes – this extravagant dish represents everything I love about “fine dining”. The quail had buttery and crispy skin and was perfectly moist within. The boned breast portion was packed with melting foie gras which oozed out perfectly. The accompaniments were perfect, a rich game jus and a quenelle of the famous Robuchon mash, flecked with black truffle shavings. Absolutely outstanding, one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted.

Veal cheek with primeur vegetables

Veal cheek with primeur vegetables – I was feeling rather smug with my decadent quail dish, but The Wife’s veal cheek was better again. The meat was braised to perfection and soft as butter. It was accompanied by yet another glorious reduction and some perfectly “al-dente” baby vegetables.

Chocolate sensation, crémeux Araguani, Oreo cookie crumbs

Chocolate sensation, crémeux Araguani, Oreo cookie crumbs – what a eyeful! The “sensation” consisted of nuggets of Oreo suspended in a rich Valrhona chocolate mousse. The gold disc was actually made of chocolate and decorated with droplets of sharp fruit sauce. A good dish – the boss, a bit of a chocaholic, was very impressed.

Traditional tarts

Traditional tarts – this selection of tarts was one of the prettiest dishes I’ve ever been served in a restaurant. Unfortunately, I can’t remember all of the varieties but they included a “chocolate” (liberal use of the Valrhona again here, methinks), “apple and cinnamon”, “lemon” and the signature “Snickers” tart – a delectable mix of chocolate and peanuts. It was hard not to be impressed with the effort that had evidently been put into making this dish. A super ending to a super meal.

It’s difficult for me not to draw comparisons between L’Atelier and Maze as their concepts are rather similar and I’m a huge fan of the Mayfair restaurant. I do prefer Maze where the dishes are positively fizzing with ideas and the presentation is much more elaborate. But the emphasis at L’Atelier is on simplicity – quality ingredients and classic French techniques.

I must give a special mention to the service at L’Atelier which was informal, but reassuringly slick. Our young waiter displayed an impressive knowledge of the vast menu, offering great suggestions when asked. I’d go so far as saying that it was probably the best service I’ve ever received in a restaurant. Thoroughly impressed and bellies satisfied, we ventured out into the casino to lose some (more) money… 🙂

L'atelier #2

Verdict: 9/10

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (MGM Grand) on Urbanspoon

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1 Response to “L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas”


  1. 1 Gavin May 13, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Nice review with great pictures. I’ve been the Atelier Joel Robuchon in Paris a couple of times and always had a great meal. I love the layout although I can understand that it’s not to everyone’s taste.

    Keep up the good work!


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