While in Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve, we decided to dine at Joel Robuchon. Chef Robuchon has been named as Chef of the Century and his Las Vegas restaurant has 3 Michelin Stars. In regard to wine service, the restaurant has “3 Glasses” from Wine Spectator, the highest award possible.
As we approached the restaurant, Oz asked me to take her picture standing in front of the restaurant. She was immediately noticed by the Maitre d’ who came outside the restaurant and kindly offered to take our picture. This set the tone for the evening as we saw that we were being made to feel welcome at the restaurant. Even though we arrived a bit early, we were taken to our seats immediately, in a quiet back corner of the restaurant. This was actually in a separate room off the main dining room that made it appear as if we were seated in an outdoor garden. Had I not known that we were inside the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, I would have thought we were dining outside on a perfect evening.
The waiter explained the various menu options and we chose to go with the 16 Course tasting menu. He explained that there are 3 different tiers of wine pairing, and we chose the top tier (you only live once!) The wines were to be paired such that there was one pairing for each of 2 subsequent dishes. Shortly after ordering, the procession of fantasy food and wine began.
First, we started with bread. However, there was no basket here – they brought a beautiful cart filled with all kinds of unusual breads. I tried an olive oil bread and a milk bread. The olive oil bread was a light bread with mild flavor. The milk bread was heavy in substance but light in taste. There was nothing especially distinctive in regard to flavor in either bread. On the other hand, Oz had saffron, basil and cheese brioche. The saffron bread was the one that stood out, in terms of both flavor and appearance.
Champagne, Bruno Paillard “Brut Premiere Cuvee”
Champagne, Billicart-Salmon “Brut Reserve”
Peach, pear, apple, but more than anything, tiny bubbles. We ordered the Bruno Paillard as soon as we sat down and then the Billicart-Salmon came with our wine pairing. It was fun to compare these two side-by-side. Although we were enjoying the Bruno Paillard, when we directly compared to the Billicart-Salmon, the latter was the clear winner. Dry, tiny bubbles that paired perfectly with the Sanguine.
L’Orange Sanguine Emulsion of blood orange on a wild berry gelee
For lack of a better comparison, picture the best jello you’ve ever eaten. Sweet, but not too sweet. Not too acidic. Very refreshing, Just right.
Le Foie Gras Carpaccio of foie gras and potatoes, covered with black truffle shavings
I had never had foie gras like this before. It looked like tiny little pieces of bologna rolled up like a scroll. The taste was remarkably elegant yet rustic. It was a very unique dish with the pure earthiness of the potatoes and black truffle with the richness of the foie gras.
Alsace “”Clos Sainte Hune” Maison F.E. Trimbach, Riesling 2003
When we first got into wine, one of the things the piqued our interest was in reading that Riesling tasted and smelled like gasoline. Well, this is the wine that finally delivered that experience. The wine was not sweet but was pleasantly fruity with great minerality. A pleasure to see on their list.
Le Caviar Green asparagus with lemon balm, chilled corn veloute with croutons, salmon tartar with shiso sprouts
This was a highlight for anyone who loves caviar. The diversity of the preparation was a story unto itself. The green asparagus with lemon balm was along the lines of pairing Pizza with a Harlan. It was interesting and I liked it, but it was not something that I would regularly want to eat. I enjoyed the salmon tartar, but it was very “fishy”. I loved it, but it was a little too fishy for Oz. The chilled corn veloute was elegant and delightful with a good balance of flavor. It was fun to try one of the five mother sauces, veloute, prepared in the kitchen of Joel Robuchon. Minerality of the Riseling perfect.
La Truffle Crispy black truffle tart with onion confit and smoked ham
When I saw this dish, it blew me away. A truffle lovers dream. I could not believe the beauty and opportunity to eat a black truffle tart. It was exactly as you would expect – rustic, earthy and fulfilling. If this is not enough truffle for you, it’s time to admit your addiction.
Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, Domaine Jean-Marc Morey 2008
An outstanding Grand Cru burgundy from the Cote de Beaune. Although slightly immature, we enjoyed the wine paired with the gorgonzola and the seafood, les Crustaces. Honey, apricot and general bright fruit on the palate. This wine was satisfying and delivered everything we expected from a Grand Cru.
Le Gorgonzola Custard of Gorgonzola with poached pear and sage tomatoes
I admit that I picked out the tomatoes which likely robbed the dish of some of the intended acid. However, it was still a tasty combination of salty and sweet.
Les Crustaces Truffled langoustine ravioli, grilled spiny lobster in green curry, “chaud-froid” of sea urchin on fennel potato puree with anise citrus
One of my favorites. The flavors in the menu were spot-on. I would have added a touch of spice to the curry!
Condreiu, Mathilde & Ives Gangloff 2008
Condreiu comes from the northern Rhone and is exclusively Viognier. Mineral, pineapple, peach. Outstanding.
La Chataigne Light chestnut cream on bacon foam
Chestnut is a taste that often comes through in Chardonnay and essentially comes through with the oak. Condrieu is occasionally aged in chestnut barrels. Although I did not detect any chestnut notes in regard to the wine, it was interesting to pair the dish with a condreiu, and it really worked. Contrasting the light cream, the bacon foam brought in rich flavors while staying light from a textural standpoint.
Le Turbot Turbot and artichoke cooked in cocotte, barigoule jus
Notorious for being difficult to pair with wine, the artichoke was the friend of the wine in this dish. Moist and hot, the turbot was flavorful and left us wanting more. Well paired with the Condreiu.
Pessac-Leognan, La Mission Haut-Brion 1996
Earthy yet chocolate with dark fruit, a well balanced full bodied wine. Not including the d’Yquem, my favorite wine of the evening.
Le Veau Sauteed veal chop with natural jus and vegetable taglierinis flavored with pesto
This was the only dish of the night that neither of us enjoyed. I ate mine but Oz did not finish hers. It was not as flavorful as the other dishes, and frankly, it was tough to cut. I was glad to have the La Mission Haut-Brion as an accompaniment.
L’Epeautre Sault farrow prepared risotto style, gold leaf
This dish perhaps had the most “Wow!” factor when they brought it out and presented the dish. Literally a ball of gold sitting on our oats. It was fun to eat and wound up being a warm, expensive, comfort food. Nice touch.
Sauternes, Chateau d’Yquem 1998
The d’Yquem came out and showed us why Joel Robuchon is a 3 Michelin Star restaurant. Earlier in the night the topic arose that we had never tried d’Yquem. Viola! Out comes a d’Yquem. This blew us away. The wine was luscious, sweet and smooth with notes of honey and apricot. This made the night. Thank you Joel Robuchon.
The desserts were outstanding and we are going to let the pictures be worth a thousand words.
L’Ananas Pineapples infused with vanilla, gingersnap cookie crumbs, pumpkin spice ice cream
Le Chocolat Poire Williams mousse and cookie crunch hidden beneath a dark chocolate sphere
The evening ended on a sweet note. There was also a “dessert cart” with numerous different sweets, but we requested the cheese cart instead. Needless to say, there were all types of cheeses and we tried several with which we were unfamiliar.
The service throughout the night was impeccable. To any who may be intimidated to make reservations at Joel Robuchon – don’t be. Rather than trying to intimidate, they go out of their way to welcome their guests. When we did not know what something was, either wine or food, we asked and they explained. It must be incredibly hard to put together a team that functions at that level, and this was one of our favorite evenings. Joel Robuchon is now one of our favorite restaurants. We will be back!