review: multi-nippled…

2nd Course: La Tomate
2nd Course: La Tomate
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

Get your mind out of the gutter.  This is a family show.

It’s a metaphor, silly, for the manifold outlets from which the dining elite can suckle Joël Robuchon’s genius.

Or, in the case of a clear tomato consommé gelatin dotted with mozzarella, tomato, and basil sauces, it’s merely a vivid description.

A meal at any restaurant with Joël Robuchon’s name on it is going to be expensive.

I’m not just talking a little expensive.

Don’t expect to walk out of a Robuchon establishment without being $100 lighter per head – that is, if you don’t want to be hungry within the next hour or so.

Joel Robuchon at The Mansion
Patio Dining
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

I never ate at Jamin, Robuchon’s first blockbuster temple of haute cuisine in Paris, or its successor at the Hôtel Le Parc on avenue Raymond Poincaré, before his first “retirement” from Michelin three-stardom. My only experience with Robuchon has been two lunches at l’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York. The first one was an expensive yawn.  The second one was a yawn revisited.

So, given the lackluster response by trusted friends to Joël Robuchon at The Mansion – the only three-starred Michelin restaurant in Las Vegas – why would I be remotely interested in spending a king’s ransom on another Robuchon meal?

Joel Robuchon at The Mansion
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

Because Robuchon is a master chef and genesis of spectacular dishes mimicked the world around.*

And Joël Robuchon at The Mansion would be, perhaps, my only opportunity to see what the man can do at one of his top outfits (he has two other three-star restaurants: Joël Robuchon a Galera in Macau and Joël Robuchon in Tokyo).

But this was misguided reasoning.  Even I knew that.

First, Robuchon is rarely in the kitchen anymore. To think The Mansion will give you Robuchon hand-to-mouth would be delusional.

Second, quite a few of the selections from The Mansion’s menus are essentially the same as those served at his l’Ateliers.

7th Course:
7th Course: L’Os à Moelle
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

La Grenouille,” my third course, for example, was straight from l’Atelier’s menu – two-plus years ago.  Instead of just breading and frying the lollipoped leg, as done at the l’Ateliers, The Mansion dresses the juicy morsel with an extra coating of hairy, shredded phyllo and garlic chips.

For those of you in New York, you can try “Le Bar,” my seventh course, at your local McRobuchon at the Four Seasons.  It’s on the a la carte menu as of this posting date.  Though, judging by its failure to make a deep impression on me, I wouldn’t say you should get too worked up about it.

5th Course: Les Crustacés
5th Course: Le Homard Rôti
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

And you can probably get a pretty close approximation of “L’Os à Moelle,” my sixth course, at the l’Atelier in Paris right now.  That version probably won’t have the popcorn, sweetbreads, and fresh corn accompaniment that I had – though the lack of sweetbreads wouldn’t be a terrible loss since mine these little pieces, crispy though they were, were bit dry within – but it will give you an idea of what wonderfully roasted bone marrow tastes like with a sweet, pointy mustard sauce.  I will hope, however, that those diners in Paris who order this dish are able to taste it with the rewardingly sweet corn kernels in tow.  Together with the mustard, it was a fantastic pairing.

But do these duplications detract from the worthiness of The Mansion?

For me, yes, a little.  Sure, it wouldn’t be possible for me to be at the l’Ateliers in New York, Paris, and wherever else at once to assemble the same meal.

5th Course: Les Petits Pois
5th Course: Les Petits Pois
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

But I expect The Mansion to be something more than a phoned-in snippets of ditto sheets from Robuchon’s “workshops.”  This restaurant should offer something special.  At this level and with these prices, I shouldn’t be able experience the food anywhere else.

But putting this issue aside, was The Mansion thrilling?

No.

Was it flawless?

No.

But it was certainly an engaging meal, full of eye-catching presentations and interesting flavors and textures.

While the kitchen was in pretty good form (an unfortunately overcooked piece of veal notwithstanding), the front of the house was unforgettably sloppy:

Joel Robucon at The Mansion
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

I arrived on time. My table didn’t.

I didn’t mind waiting in what I call the vampire lounge, a dark, chic lounge with a small bar displaying decanters of fine liqueurs.  The low-and-long soft leather chairs were quite cushy and comfortable.

What I did mind was the nearly half-hour wait that met no apologies, explanations, or updates.

Silverware seemed to be habitually missing and misplaced. At one point, one server swooped in to clear the setting that another server had just put down in front of me, replacing it with the proper utensils for the next course.

Questions went unanswered.

Lest you think I am an over-eager pedant with too many questions, I only asked two questions the whole evening: (1) “What was the white, crisp root vegetable in the “Racines” course?,” and (2) “Where do you get your cheeses from?”

Joel Robuchon at The Mansion
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

The answer to both was “I don’t know.” With the first question, the server offered to check with the kitchen. But she forgot. I didn’t. I re-posed the question at the end of the meal. This time, she found the answer: “It’s the vegetable used to make tapioca.”

What is this, Jeopardy?

“What is cassava?” I responded, winning the Daily Double.

The deuce next to me sat for a good half-hour between their last savory course and dessert.

Joel Robuchon at The Mansion
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

It didn’t go unnoticed by me or the servers. Two of them convened within earshot to discuss that couple’s unnaturally long wait. But they said nothing to the couple – no acknowledgment, no explanation, and no apology – not even when the gentleman politely asked whether or not he was mistaken in thinking that they had ordered dessert. Interestingly, the desserts arrived not promptly, but ten minutes thereafter. So, I guess they waited forty minutes for their desserts.

And, you know those fabulous little gift baskets that one often gets at the end of fancy dinners? The ones at The Mansion were particularly nice. I wish I knew what was in them.**

Joel Robuchon at The Mansion
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

Call me petty, but it left a bad taste in my mouth that I was the only party at my late hour that didn’t get one. No, I didn’t ask.

But back to the food, which was, for the most part, quite good.

I chose the restaurant’s top tasting menu, the “Degustation” – 12 courses (more or less) for $385. That price also includes petits fours and coffee or tea. I supplemented a cheese course, which the restaurant comped. I’m going to guess that it was a show of contrition for the dry and overcooked veal, which I hardly ate (“Le Veau“). My server did acknowledge the rather large piece of meat left on my plate and apologized for the kitchen’s botch.

No, I did not want another piece. And, no, at that point, I really didn’t care to see what else the chef could prepare for me.  I politely declined both offers.

CLICK HERE to see photos from this meal, or click on the hyperlinked courses to see the individual plates.

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Amuse Bouche
Le Caviar Osciètre
En infusion de corail anisée, en surprise.
(Osetra Caviar on a coral gelée served as a surprise)

1st Course
La Tomate
En salade, huile d’olive au basilic, tomate et mozzarella en gelée.
(Salad of tomato, basil infused olive oil, tomato gelée topped with mozzarella.)

2nd Course

Les Asperges

Un blanc-manger aux substances d’agrumes.
(Pana cotta with citrus oil.)

Brouillarde crémeuse dans une voilette de pain doré.
(Scrambled egg in a golden toast.)

Royale tremblotante de morille au vin d’Arbois.
(Morel royale with yellow wine.)

3rd Course
La Grenouille
La cuisse en fritot à la purée aillée et au coulis de persil.
(Crispy frog leg, garlic and parsley puree.)

4th Course
Les Crustacés

La langoustine truffée et cuite en ravioli a l’émincé de chou vert.
(Truffled langoustine ravioli with chopped cabbage.)

Le homard rôti au curry et fines graines de chou fleur.
(Roasted lobster with green curry,)

L’oursin a la purée de pomme de terre au café « Blue Mountain » torréfié.
(Uni on mashed potato with roasted coffee beans.)

5th Course
Les Petits Pois
En fin velouté rafraîchi à la menthe poivrée sur un voile d’oignon doux.
(Light pea velouté with peppermint on top of a delicate onion cloud.)

6th Course
L’Os à Moelle
Garni d’un ragout de légumes aux éclats de maïs et gingembre.
(Bone marrow and stew of vegetables with corn and ginger cream.)

7th Course
Le Bar
Poêlé à la citronnelle avec une étuvée de jeunes poireaux.
(Pan-fried sea bass with lemon grass foam and stewed baby leeks.)

8th Course
Le Veau
En côte cuit au plat avec un gel d’herbes fraîches et une mêlée de courgette au amandes.
(Sautéed veal chop with herb gelée, zucchini and fresh almonds.)

9th Course
Les Racines Maraîchères
Mitonnées avec une semoule de blé parfumé à l’huile d’Argan.
(Spring root vegetables stew with Argan oil couscous.)

10th Course
Les Fromages

11th Course
Fraises
Confite au sirop de citron vert, rafraîchi au sorbet Tequila.
(Strawberry compote infused with lime, tequila sorbet.)

12th Course
Le Chocolat
Aux noix de Pecan, onctuosite au gianduja)
(Nyangbo chocolate cake, light gianduja cream)

Petits Fours

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Judging by the bread and petits fours selection, at the fringes, Robuchon focuses more on quantity than quality. I’m not saying The Mansion’s bread program was bad – the saffron brioche was quite good. I just didn’t find anything to be particularly great.

Bread
Bread
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

There were at least four types of “baguettes,” including regular baguettes, olive baguettes, and rosemary baguettes. There was pain epi studded with bacon, buns filled with Comte, buns filled with Gruyere, and pain de campagne.

On the lower shelf of the bread cart were half a dozen types of brioche – one bright yellow with saffron, one pastel green with basil, and one regular brioche roll glistening with egg wash and a little stem sticking out the top that made them look like burnished apples. And there was pain au lait (sending me back to the bacon-studded pain au lait at L20) – it was of middling quality; soft, but not incredibly so.

Your first bread selection is taken back to the kitchen and heated.  Subsequent bread selections were not.

Mignardises
Petits Fours
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

As for the petits fours: “Forty sweets, all made in-house,” she boasted. And not one of the half dozen or so I tried was anything to write home about. The cannelé was soggy, the infused chocolates were bland, and the orangettes – well, I’ve made better ones at home.  The couverture on the orangette was gritty and the rind had been over-candied – it had lost all of its citrus fragrance.  The best thing off the candy trolley I tried was a half-domed pear gelée filled with Brandy.  Gosh, I wish they had reminded me to pop it in one bite.  The Brandy ended up on my jacket.  I should have known better.

I asked the sommelier to suggest a wine from the limited by-the-glass list. He steered me toward a white.  I pushed him towards something more buttery and oaky, which landed him squarely on a glass of Meursault, Pierre Matrot, 2006.

Meursault, Pierre Matrot, 2006
Meursault, Pierre Matrot, 2006
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

In retrospect, this was one instance where my usual m.o. of drink-what-you-want-and-eat-what-you-want didn’t really work.  The wine was fine but paired with nothing save “Les Petits Pois,” enhancing the trace of mint threaded through the frothy and warm pea velouté. Sweet and silky double-shucked peas and hammy, diced bacon gave this soup a familiar and comforting handle.

Le Caviar Osciètre,” the amuse bouche (regardless of what menu you order – the simplest now being $89 for a main course, and dessert), was an impressive start.

This was essentially an inside-out/inverted version of a previous caviar presentation I’ve seen described from meals at The Mansion in which cauliflower cream and caviar (a similar concept, cauliflower cream and sea urchin, can be found at multiple l’Ateliers) are coupled, with a thin layer of lobster gelée sandwiched between.

1st Course: Le Caviar Osciètre
1st Course: Le Caviar Osciètre
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

Reversing the strata, in this version the cauliflower cream anchored the dish, serving as a dressing for a crab meat salad, at the bottom. On top of this was layered a thin sheet of coral gelée, which, in turn, was generously paved with osetra caviar.  Presented in a caviar tin, this was quite a substantial amuse bouche.

When the server took off the lid, a good swatch of the caviar came off with it, sticking to the underside of the  lid and exposing the gelée below. The dish was removed and remade. It returned with the lid loosely placed. This second time, the lid came off without event and the underlying caviar was un-compromised.

The botched first presentation aside, this creamy, briny concoction with a mild, earthy sweetness was excellent. I could easily have blown through ten of these and called it a night.

3rd Course: Les Aperges
2nd Course: Le Blanc-Manger
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

The next course, “La Tomate,” was a powerhouse of flavors and textures.

To the left: a slice of very ripe tomato topped with a chunky dressing of finely minced tomatoes, balsamic, heavily infused garlic oil, salt, and fresh basil.

To the right: a clear tomato gazpacho consommé gelatin dotted with buffalo mozzarella and either basil (green) or tomato (orange) emulsion.

The tug and play between salt, acid, and the different textures of tomato offered a compelling plot to an otherwise predictable summer story.

5th Course: Les Crustacés
2nd Course: La Langoustine
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

The rest of the savory courses wavered between high and low.

Sea urchin, nestled in Robuchon’s famous pomme purée, was the highlight of a triptych of crustacea (“Les Crustacés“), and quite possibly, the entire meal.

It wasn’t hedonistically gratifying, like that caviar amuse bouche. Or comforting, like that raviolo filled with silky, barely cooked langoustine so candy-sweet it could have double for dessert. Sauced with a rich foie gras sauce, that pasta pillow was fantastic.***

But this sea urchin dish was so daring in its concept and so provocative in its proposition that it arrested me – mind, mouth, and heart.

5th Course: Les Crustacés
5th Course: L’Oursin
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

It wasn’t hard to read between these lines.  Served in a glass cup capped with a milky froth, this was, in effect, a “cappuccino.”  Both the potato purée and the milk froth were shot through with a strong dose of high-quality beanage: Ethiopian “Blue Mountain.”)

I wouldn’t say this was delicious. Rather, like a good, strong coffee, I savored it slowly.

Unlike your run-of-the-mill, bisque-like seafood cappuccino, this had not an ounce of seasoning in it.  The flavor – more espresso than cappuccino – was purely bitter, nutty, and earthy. I thought that this might make the potato and sea urchin taste sweeter.  It didn’t.****  The potato and sea urchin merely contributed a milky, creaminess that completed the cappuccino conceit.

3rd Course: Les Asperges
3rd Course: Brouillarde Crémeuse
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

Together, this little cup recreated what a (good) espresso experience is like for me. I thought it was an amazing flavor concept.*****

A warm, custardy egg and asparagus scramble – the star of an asparagus threesome (“Les Asperges“) – was also very good. Ringed by a veil-thin, tuile crown, the scrambled eggs were dotted with tissue-thin garlic chips. Simple, classy, and satisfying, this was a wonderful breakfast for dinner.

3rd Course: Les Asperges
3rd Course: Royale Tremblotante
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

And there was a fairly memorable royale involving tender asparagus and silky hon shimeji caps in a hot, gelatinous vin jaune consommé. Below the asparagus and mushroom mix was a delicate chawan mushi threaded with chopped morels. Served hot, this was comforting.

The balance of the savory courses were rather forgettable.  There was a decent roasted lobster tail on a bed of cauliflower “cous cous” and lemon grass-infused green curry (“Le Homard Rôti“).  There was a breathless white asparagus blanc-manger hugged by a foamy tomato and citrus soup (“Un Blanc-Manger“). And there was that overcooked veal, an inexcusable indictment against its unnecessarily maligned kind (“Le Veau“).

10th Course: Les Racines Maraîchères
10th Course: Les Racines Maraîchères
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

The last savory dish was a colorful assortment of gently cooked vegetables (“Les Racines Maraîchères“), including baby radishes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and that crunchy-sweet cassava root.  Coated in seasoned butter, Argan oil and cous cous, the vegetables were awfully Passardesque.  It was good, but not good enough for me to prolong this long-winded post with more words.

The cheese cart – ever my Achilles heel – pulled around (at my request) (“Les Fromages“). The selection was somewhat pedestrian. Not to sound boastful (’cause I’m really not that smart), I could name everyone of the cheeses on this cart save one. That’s not a bad thing, but as a cheese-lover who’s always wanting to learn and discover more about cheese, it’s sometimes deflating to see cheeses that I’ve encountered time and again, often at my local cheesemonger’s.  I suppose, as our world shrinks, more and more cheeses will become more and more available to a wider audience in the U.S.

11th Course: Les Fromages
11th Course: Les Fromages
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

What I can commend The Mansion on is the good variety offered.  Every one of the nearly two dozen cheeses was French.  You can see the entire inventory HERE.

Whilst the rest of the bread service was rather charmless, the walnut-raisin rolls served with the cheese was outstanding. I handily put down two of them without batting a lash. Only prudence prevented me from going for a third.

All of the cheeses were in tip-top condition.  The Banon was especially great – the chestnut leaves having imparted a pronounced, vegetal mark on the flavor.

I asked for some honey for my blue cheese. With it came a reprise of the cheese cart.  I asked to try the St. Marcellin – as it looked like it had pooled to the correct state of maturity. Boy, had it. It was ripe and ready. It was excellent St. Marcellin.

12th Course: Fraises
12th Course: Fraises
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

Of the desserts, the “Fraises” was the most appreciated.  Given my wanton glut of cheese, it was a wonderful refresher.  A roughly milled strawberry confite, the cold, frothy soup was kissed with lime and enriched with balsamic vinegar. It was wholly sweet, yet savory by the same turn. Its thickness was cut with tequila sorbet whose flavor was round enough to temper a faint bite.

Le Chocolat” – of Nyangbo prefecture (kidding) – was predictably dark and rich.  But, the finger-thin structure, served in a narrow barge, presented an absurd and impossible course for the fork and spoon to negotiate.

*    *    *    *

French-Pressed Coffee
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

Not that I ask terribly much of Robuchon, or any restaurant at this level, but I found the meal – though the individual courses could be interesting and unique – somewhat predictable in its arc.

Creamy white starter.  Check.

Pasta.  Check.

Lobster.  Check.

Fish (white). Check.

Meat (veal). Check.

Cheese. Check.

Chocolate (with an origin).  Check.

13th Course: Le Chocolat
13th Course: Le Chocolat
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

With the exception of the foie gras, this meal followed largely the format I described in my blog post on this subject (CLICK HERE).

I won’t fault any chef for following standard operating procedure if the meal is truly spectacular from head to toe.

This one wasn’t.

But there were enough interesting tidbits along the way – a dazzling caviar starter [a (not-so-)cheap thrill, admittedly]; a ripe and summer-kissed tomato duo; a comforting egg scramble; a wonderful langoustine raviolo; an inventive sea urchin cappuccino; and a refreshing and complex fruit soup – to keep me engaged.

Joel Robuchon at The Mansion
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

Having had sustainable/seasonal propaganda beaten into me – if not by upbringing, then by the current state of food media – I did raise my eyebrows at a few seasonal anachronisms.  Morels, asparagus, and sea urchin are generally not the feature or focus of late July. But, I suppose, longer growing seasons in that part of the country sustain certain vegetables and products longer than in my part of the country.  I’ve even gotten reliable reports of excellent sea urchins being harvested off the Oregon coast at this late season.  And, well, there’s always overnight delivery.

Despite my previous gripe that a few of the dishes were swiped or rehashed from l’Atelier menus, The Mansion does offer a remarkable repertoire that is different from any other restaurant in the U.S. – and definitely in Las Vegas.  And, I must say that it is one of the most handsome restaurants I’ve ever seen.  From the checkered marble entryway to the plush, purple banquettes and settees, it drips luxury.  Despite the lofty ceiling, the space is quite intimate, approximating a great room in one’s French country home – framed photos of Robuchon’s family line the ledges; a gas-powered fireplace casts a warm glow; and huge, satin curtains frame a set of double French doors that lead out to a faux patio.

Joel Robuchon at The Mansion
Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
Las Vegas, Nevada

These pleasantries aside, Robuchon has yet to convince me that he deserves the praise and reverence that so many throw at his feet. I fear that I have missed the apex of the great’s chef’s career.

Would I return to The Mansion? Sure. But a lucky hand at one of the tables not ten yards from the restaurant’s front door wouldn’t hurt.

Of course my judgment means nothing to Monsieur Robuchon, he of the many internationally acclaimed teets, and he who had a butt in every seat at The Mansion for both services the night I was in – most of whom had ordered the top Degustation.

It is unfortunate that the front of the house was a bit hapless. Of course, it could have just been an off night. But at $500+, no diner should be subjected to an off night.

Joël Robuchon at The Mansion
MGM Grand
Las Vegas, Nevada

* Though Robuchon has been credited with creating ground-breaking dishes, I’ve also heard allegations that many of his celebrated dishes – like La Langoustine – were cribbed from other chefs.  I’m not so concerned with playing culinary connect-the-dots.

** I have since learned, from an acquaintance who dined there less than a month before I, that the take-away bag contained a nice pistachio cake, some extra mignardises, and a booklet with “photos of the restaurant; chefs; kitchens; bread, cheese and mignardises carts; and, each individual dish on the menu.”

*** I’ve encountered a similar dish at le Bernardin.

**** Yet, every so often, there was a strange sweet sensation on my tongue from an unidentifiable source – I suspect a psychological occurrence that happens when one expects sweetness but gets something else. (The same effect happens when I eat 99%/100% chocolate.)

***** Others disagree.

~ by ulterior epicure on August 3, 2009.

23 Responses to “review: multi-nippled…”

  1. I and a friend ate at Jamin about 1985/86. We had the full gastronomic menu. The food was quite uneven and not memorable but the two bottles of wine we consumed were excellent. I felt at the time that it was overrated. In 1986 L’Arpege was outstanding at three meals there. Last December
    Le Bristol stood out amongst Le Cinq and Ledoyen.
    Best in the world over the past year was L’Osier in Tokyo.

  2. @ AMRX. It seems that you and I missed each other in Paris. I was also at le Bristol, le Cinq, and Ledoyen. I’ve already posted about le Cinq and Ledoyen, but le Bristol’s story remains to be told. le Cinq was probably the least impressive meal on my entire 14-day trip. le Bristol was very strong. But Ledoyen, among the three, tugged my heart the most.

  3. UE, your summation of the Mansion seems spot on to me, We thought that the food never lived up to the room or the plates/platings. The bread we had was great and the mignardise cart was an exercise in more is not really more. Cant wait for the rest of the reviews to come.

  4. Good review, UE. You know of course that Eric Ripert cooked under Robuchon and considers him his mentor.

  5. @ Preston: Thank you! Be patient, my friend. They’re coming. Slowly, but surely.

    @ Moby: Yes, I did know that Ripert studied under Robuchon.

  6. Was Claude Le Tohic manning the stove while you were there? I’d imagin if he knew about this, he would’ve taken more corrective actions. It sounds unlikely that he’ll let this pass. The maitre’d (or manager?), Emmanuel, can be on-and-off each time I visit. I wouldn’t count on him too much.

    As for service, if you think the Mansion was aloof, you should try next door at L’Atelier. We had a reservation, arrived on time, yet have to wait for 1 hr. No apology, nothing. Had this happened to any Robuchon’s establishments in Paris (which it will not) they would’ve handled it differently. I believe front of house staff character in LV in general are pretty casual (sloppy). People still can remember not too long ago, this town is still a desert with a Sizzler. With the boom and recent influx of all things lavish, the learning curve are just to steep. With the exception of Guy Savoy, I find the servers/host in LV in general are just lack of respect, care and sincerity. It’s almost as if they’re trying hard to torture the well-heeled “jackasses” during their service. This is just my impression in general, not all are like this ofcourse.

  7. @ Will J: I don’t know if Le Tohic was in that night. I didn’t ask. And it wasn’t apparent. Though, as you suggest, he seems to be demanding and exact.

    I simply haven’t dined enough in Las Vegas to say whether or not service in restaurants there is generally sloppier than in comparable restaurants elsewhere. Not to give too much away, but I received excellent service at Alex (though I was a friend of the house). And Bar Charlie gave me excellent service as well – though I was the ONLY diner that evening. But it is interesting that the most “highly ranked” and esteemed of them all – Robuchon’s Mansion – faltered. You are right: if this were a Michelin three-star in Paris, these mistakes – or, at least this many mistakes – would not gather at one person’s table.

  8. I believe you a make case for the debate of the stars not meaning the same thing in europe vs. here

  9. Yes, or even within Europe. A three-star in the U.K. is not the same as a three-star in France.

  10. Will J said: “We had a reservation, arrived on time, yet have to wait for 1 hr. No apology, nothing. Had this happened to any Robuchon’s establishments in Paris (which it will not) they would’ve handled it differently.”

    Funny you say that, because I had exactly the same experience at L’Atelier in Paris last year. Arrived on time for a reservation, was told there was no way we could be seated for at least 30 minutes, then proceeded to wait another 25 minutes further before we were summoned. No apology whatsoever.

  11. I’d been planning to eat here in September – now I’m a tad hesitant. Perhaps I’ll look into one of the smaller menus and skip the grand degustation so that I may select what sounds best instead of having them assume.

  12. @ uhockey: If there is a next time, I’m most likely going to order a la carte.

  13. Good review. Just curious- aside from Alex, where would you eat in LV if you only had one night. (Alex is out of the question because he is closed the night I will be there. I have eaten there as well!)

  14. @ NaughyB: Aburiya Raku.

  15. Thanks for the rapid response. Well, just asked the wife about the suggestion and she wants to go somewhere with more ambience. (I know the suggestion would be wonderful due to the large of amount of local devotees) I assume the wife is looking for a more upscale establishment. Be that as it may, would you suggest Guy Savoy, or L’Atelier over the Mansion? The Mansion has recently gone on vacation for the month of August, so they may come back more focused and refreshed???

  16. What about Bar Charlie? It’s sad that place isn’t better appreciated.

  17. @ NaughtyB: Well, hardly a restaurant that I saw in Las Vegas can touch The Mansion in terms of “atmosphere.” But I have peculiar tastes and senses. I note, however, that I have not seen the interiors of Picasso and Guy Savoy. The latter was closed during my stay. I did look through its doors, but I can’t say I got a fair view of the inside. I ate at Guy Savoy in Paris. (CLICK HERE) Suffice it to say that it didn’t entice me enough to visit Guy Savoy in Las Vegas. You can find a few of Guy Savoy’s signature dishes from his Paris menu on the one in Las Vegas.

    l’Atelier, in my opinion, is a whole different story. It’s strictly counter seating and you’ll likely be sharing elbow space with another. Even if you’re not, you will not leave the casino floor – the slot machines are not only 10 feet from the door, you can see them through the glass wall that runs the length of the restaurant. I wouldn’t go there for atmosphere.

    As for The Mansion, I don’t think you’ll be terribly disappointed (poorer, yes). But there were some troubling points in my meal, as you no doubt read about. You have to be prepared to part with the money happily, regardless of the outcome.

  18. @ KD: I’m in the process of posting my review of Bar Charlie. I think you’ll be interested in what I have to say about it.

  19. @UE Indeed. I’ve been intrigued since I saw the set pop up in your Flickr stream. Everything I’ve heard is that it is frequently empty, but that Chef Trotter believes in the concept and the skill of the staff, so it persists.

  20. @ KD: Indeed. I’ll post it shortly.

  21. Thanks for the response. I certainly realize that a good chunk of cash will be left at the Mansion, if indeed, we decide to go that route. I am certain that L’Atelier will not make the cut on this trip. On the other hand, Guy Savoy is still appealing. I just think, aside from Paris, where else would I be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor (although I realize he will not actually be the one who prepares the meal.) I am somewhat upset that I missed his restaurant in Paris last year except I wouldn’t trade my meal at Taillevent for anything. I am intrigued about your experience with Bar Charlie. I assume that it it did not knock your socks off as it was not recommended. I am entertaining the thought of Michael Mina, as well, even though I know there is a multitude of arenas in which to enjoy his food. As you can see, I have not made much progress in this arduous decision! I am going to check out your review of Guy Savoy in Paris.

  22. @ Naughty B: “I just think, aside from Paris, where else would I be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor (although I realize he will not actually be the one who prepares the meal.)” And for this reason alone, I’d recommend Guy Savoy over the others.

    And yes, you may assume that Bar Charlie was purposely omitted from my list of recommendations.

  23. Before throwing out veiled accusations of copying, one might want to know that some of us were eating “La Langoustine” at Jamin when Eric Ripert was cooking it for Robuchon in the kitchen. It can also be found in Robuchon’s books from that period, for those not lucky enough to have dined there.

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