L' Atelier du Joel Robuchon
 Las Vegas, Nevada             Date of Visit: 12/12/10

So last year we went to Vegas in December to celebrate our four month past anniversary at Bouchon. Well, where would we go this year? It has been four months since our anniversary; we should probably do something to celebrate. After eating at CraftSteak and prior to our disappointment at ‘wichcraft we had stopped by the divided twin restaurants of Joel Robuchon. The first and more expensive Joel Robuchon and the more reasonable L’ Atelier du Joel Robuchon are separated by a wall and about 2X the check average. Knowing we were trying to get to a few more places this year we opted for L’ Atelier still expecting excellent service and extraordinary cuisine. We weren’t disappointed on most accounts. The interior of L’ Atelier (artist’s workshop) is both light and dark with a lot of black and red that is all well lit. The best thing about the space is we were seated at the counter right in front of the open kitchen where we could watch the staff prepare each plate with literal “tweezer” precision. This would prove to be both a highlight and cause for disappointment.



Just...Oh My!

The service started off friendly but varied through the evening. Our initial server was joined by a number of positive additions…and then there was his French manager. Pretentious, distant, less than helpful, he was wearing a suit I’m assuming was horribly expensive since it looked like it was ugly as sin our of the box and then  he had apparently lent it to a guy who sleeps on a sewer grate to break it in. Oh wait, I already told you he was French, sorry about the redundancy. My apologies to the three or four French nationals who have broken the mold. The chef is also French but he’s not supposed to interact with the locals much. Everyone else appeared friendly and helpful.

Then starts the food. I ordered the Menu Decouverte De Saison or Seasonal Discovery Menu which consisted of nine courses and Steph ordered a number of things off of the ala carte menu. First a basket of bread was set down on the counter including flaky and crusty rolls as well as mini baguettes. Smeared with French butter all three were great…if you managed to empty the basket it would soon magically restore itself to a full status. An amuse bouche was presented in a shot glass. Just so you know the menu included the French (Cremeux de foie gras au Porto et son emulsion au parmesan) but from here on out I will stick to the English. The shot was a Foie gras parfait with port wine and parmesan foam. Honestly, it shouldn’t work all that well but it resulted in a smooth and intensely rich starter that just made your mouth and brain kick start and prepare for a long ride.


Steph’s first dish was the seasonal vegetable salad with each leaf, stem and root having been lightly dressed and singularly placed in the bowl. The flavors were distinct but married by the light dressing. She even ate the veggies she typically doesn’t care for. My first course was lobster on a turnip slice with sweet and sour sauce. Again, exceptional but rare combinations of flavors. I was getting really jazzed about our choice. I should mention that the discovery menu this night could be upcharged with some fresh Alba Truffles from northern Italy. We’re splurging right. My first plate to include the earthy slices of the “diamond of the kitchen” was the sea scallop cooked in the shell with chive oil and topped with micro oregano and Fleur de Sel or really expensive salt. The scallop was beautifully cooked and the fungus, salt and herbs kept the night rolling on towards unbelievable. Next I received an onion tart with smoke bacon, asparagus and parmesan. The tart itself, while a little hard to get through, had an amazing onion flavor which paired well with the bacon, greens, and cheese. Steph’s braised short rib then hit the counter. Accompanied by potato salad, parsely vinaigrette and fresh horseradish, the oddly shaped but fatty slices of rib were delicious.

Liver Shot...No Really.  Exceptional

Composed Veggie Creation

Lobster with Turnip

Look @ The Truffles Around the Perfect Scallop!!!

Oniony Tart


The next, an egg cocotte (baked in a light mushroom cream) was one of the misses for both of us that night. Steph had trouble with the amount of egg in the dish…I was hoping for a little more flavor from the mushrooms or anywhere else. Even the gorgeous truffles on top couldn’t save this one.

Steph then received her favorite dish of the night…the pumpkin veloute atop a ginger cappuccino and crunchy pumpkin seeds. It truly was amazing…just brilliant.

Braised Short Rib

Egg Cocotte..ehh

Stunning Pumpkin Ginger Soup

Excellent Dover Sole

A dover sole with fried baby leeks and ginger hit the second fish course out of the park. Steph’s next course was a veal ravioli with fried artichokes. I think the pearl onions on that plate were the only thing she didn’t eat throughout the entire night. You’ve come a long way, Baby.

Foie Stuffed Quail With Truffled Taters!!!

Veal Ravioli

Much Lauded Mash...I don't Get It

Next I had a choice of hanger steak or foie gras stuffed quail with truffled mash. Uh…instant decision I had the quail which was fabulously done and the truffled mash were topped with more slices of the Alba’s making for a real treat. Steph’s ravioli had come with a crock of the world renowned Robuchon mash, so I had to try. To be honest I don’t get it. The butter flavor completely overpowers any sense of potato and the texture is difficult to adjust to…smooth but thick…like butter flavored paste. The truffles on the mash with the quail made for a much better experience.


We were down to desserts, two for me, one for her. (Yes I shared, I’m not completely heartless.) the first to hit the counter was the mojito in dessert form. Fresh mint with white rum granite and lychee with fruit slices and a lime cream, all served in a sugar rimmed glass. This was my favorite dessert by far which surprised me. Bright and acidic, unique but familiar, a great twist on a staple.  Steph had ordered the chocolate soufflé. Soufflés are not my favorite but this was a good model of the form with a quenelle of vanilla ice cream set into the poofy cake. The final dessert was a hazelnut dacquois with a light mascarpone mousse flavored with almond liquor. Add in the ice cream the chocolate tuile and sugary nutty garnish and you had for a rich and satisfying end to the meal.


Dessert Mojito...Ingenious

Chocolate Soufflé

Chocolate Dacquois


Now for the complaint. The night had started off so well, we really enjoyed almost everything we tried. What could possibly ruin that? Well after the diners to our right left for the evening they were replaced by two very average looking and arrogant women who began bantering with the staff focused mostly on food (they didn’t seem to know much), foodie name dropping (Wow, you went to another restaurant in Vegas?) and ham-fisted, grade school sexual come-on's. Now I don't really blame the diners...some people just have trouble maintaining their self-esteem.

The staff, however, should know better! You are in an open kitchen surrounded by diners! You don't pick your nose...how 'bout you keep it in your pants? The last five courses were tainted by a game of are they just teases, or does my uniform mean I'm getting lucky, and a sophomoric one at that. The chef was apparently personally trained by Robuchon, I wonder if the training was 'food only' or if the man with the most Michelin Stars in the world also trains in horn-doggery. And if your whole life is about getting your schwerve on...just remember you still have other tables.

The End of The Night Wasn't Anywhere As Refined




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