Given that Joël Robuchon owns the NY food media this week (the Sun,the Times,the Candy,the Eater, et al). I thought it an apt moment to discuss his lone gastronomic temple: Joël Robuchon at the Mansion in Vegas. I was there in March.
It is the best meal I have eaten so far this year.
If you need to know any more than that, details and menu after the jump.
(photo credit MGM Grand)
Before we get to the main course, let me note I was indeed a friend of the house and chef was not only on premise, but actually served a plate or two. Consider this my habitual disclaimer that accompanies my non-review reports.* (see note below)
For those playing along at home, download the menu here (pdf).
The meal was accompanied by a progression of three sumptuous wines: Champagne Dom Perignon Rose 1995, Meursault ‘En La Barre’ F. Jobard 2002 and Château Margaux 1996. Much preferred to wine pairings with every course, which I find to be over-kill and ultimately less enjoyable.
Details you might not glean from the menu alone are the 15 different kinds of bread baked daily and served from a chariot decorated with sheaves of wheat. I was only able to try about 10, but they were all wonderfully warm, well salted with the appropriate textures on the crusts. Most impressive service du pain I’ve ever seen –perhaps because Robuchon has mandated bread-baking on his premises since 1981.
Also served via chariot before dessert were ice creams in silver canisters, wearing linen napkin turbans. And after dessert, the petit fours, twenty, perhaps 30 different kinds. Hard to keep count, and very hard to resist.
Much has already been written on and off-line about this restaurant. You can find the pictures and reviews everywhere. Many have said the same thing. The room is shining and beautiful. An elegant, almost timeless concoction of deco and luxe. The service is seamless and efficient, and to my mind not a bit snobby. It is close to perfect. The only flaw is that dining there requires a plane ticket.
*Note: To those of you who believe any free meal is a good meal and not paying means a good report, let me assure you that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I had perhaps my worst meal of the year at a big press dinner a few weeks ago in New York. Seated at the worst table in the house, I watch while every other table received ‘special tastings from the chef’ and a greeting from the superstar owner. I was bypassed on both counts. The food was mediocre at best. The only saving grace was my engaging dinner companion and the lovely waiter. But they were not captivating enough to keep me seated through dessert. We left in search of sweets and front-of-the-bus service elsewhere. I do believe I gauge restaurants on a level playing field; it’s just not a field usually open to the general public.