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6 Deadly Sins of L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

October 6, 2009
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I came to Vegas looking for sin.

And I found six of the seven deadly ones right here at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

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Read their decouverte tasting menu and tell me it doesn’t inspire gluttony and greed. Baby Kusshi oysters, Maine lobster, langoustine carpaccio, foie gras stuffed quail with truffled mashed potatoes.

Look at the photos and tell me it doesn’t inspire lust, followed quickly by envy.

Dine here and tell me you don’t feel a tinge of arrogant pride as you consider the buffet-dining hoards.

And enjoy nine perfect courses and tell me your satisfaction is not soon followed by a blissful, slothful afterglow.

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Walking up to the black-clad restaurant, “L’Atelier” glowing red like both a warning and an invitation, it’s hard not to be seduced by the presence of the “Chef of the Century”. Even if only by name. Standing next to the opulent and all white Joel Robuchon, L’Atelier beckons you to the dark side.

Inside, the black and red decor continues, right down to an open black kitchen. Black tiles, black surfaces. Austere. Stark. A few tables for groups of four or more but most of the dining occurs at the bar around the open kitchen. Half the spectacle is watching your dishes work themselves through the different stations.

Of course you can order off the a la carte menu or go with their three or five course tasting menus. But you’re at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. That would be like stopping at foreplay. Go on, order the nine course tasting.

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LES CRUSTACES : Shellfish cream, piquillo pepper coulis and fennel foam

The amuse bouche comes out in a small porcelain eggcup atop a piece of rough hewn, heavy volcanic rock. A lobster and langoustine cream sits at the bottom, layered on top with a piquillo pepper coulis and topped with the fennel foam. Dip your spoon right to the bottom and dig out the cream and combine the coulis and foam in a single mouthful. The essence of the shellfish is both distinct and powerful. The texture, on the other hand, is of a smooth custard.

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LA LANGOUSTINE : Langoustine carpaccio with roasted poppy seed dressing

The natural sweetness of the langoustine is tempered with a slightly tart, almost Asian, dressing. The roasted poppy seeds add a bitter crunch. Dip into the streak of chili oil if you want a slight kick or the basil oil for a more green flavor. But, for me, this dish was all about the natural flavor of fresh, raw langoustine.

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LES HUITRES : Poached baby Kusshi oysters with French “Echiré” butter

Imagine butter melted over slightly poached oysters. Except infinitely better because these are Kusshis and the butter is Echiré. Go on, be an ingredient snob. A perfect illustration of how quality ingredients can elevate a dish. This one was sensational.

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LE HOMARD : Maine lobster in a tomato sauce and green asparagus

The lobster was very well prepared and I like the presentation of leaving the tail meat partially in the shell. It makes for a beautiful plate. But the star here is the rich and dense sauce a l’américaine, beautifully bringing out the flavor of the lobster. Really, this is lobster layered on lobster. You can’t ask for more than that.

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LE FOIE GRAS : Foie gras ravioli in a warm chicken broth with herbs

I think I’m giving up chicken noodle soup as a comfort food in favor of this dish. Except I don’t think L’Atelier delivers when I’m sick. It’s a shame. These foie gras raviolis were delicate and delicious.

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LE SAINT-PIERRE : John Dory filet with baby calamari and artichoke

Growing up in Australia, I ate a lot of John Dory as a kid. So much so that it became a very ordinary fish for me. This John Dory was anything but ordinary. Firm and well seasoned, it was just a very good piece of fish. The baby calamari was perhaps the only slip up in the whole meal, being rather rubbery.

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LA CAILLE : Foie gras stuffed free-range quail with truffled-mashed potatoes

How could I not love this dish? Three of my favorite ingredients on the one plate. Press down on the slightly crispy skin of the quail and melted foie gras oozes out of it. Cut through the quail and coat liberally with foie gras ooze. Alternate with bites of the thick, creamy truffled mash flecked with black truffle. Earthy. Gamey. Offally. Superb.

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LA PECHE : Peach confit infused with Moscato d’Asti, apricot milkshake

A stunning and surprising dessert. A peach sorbet sitting in an apricot “milkshake”. A coin of sugar topping the dish. Dip into the apricot foam and you’ll find bits of crunchy frosted cornflakes. All presented in a stemless martini glass balanced in a glass bowl.

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L’ACAI : Acai granite light caramel cream

A final fun dessert to end the meal, this one comes topped with a ball of pink cotton candy and a small raspberry. Like a sweet and airy breast. Start by letting the cotton candy dissolve in your mouth. Then dig down into the tart and refreshing acai granita. Juxtapose with the rich caramel cream. At this point, you should be simultaneously thrilled at the meal you just experienced and saddened that this is the last course.

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LE CAFE

An herbal mint tea to calm my stomach and a cute chocolate truffle partially printed with the restaurant’s name.

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And the knowledge that I just experienced the meal of the year from the chef of the century.

Well, his excellent Executive Chef Steve Benjamin anyway.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the seventh deadly sin, it’s wrath.

It’s what you’ll feel if you lose $1000 on the blackjack table. That could have been a meal for two at L’Atelier’s big brother, Joel Robuchon.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
MGM Grand
3799 Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 891-7925

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas on Fooddigger

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

13 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2009 7:05 pm

    Flipping brilliant. BTW, how were the poached oysters? It’s almost a crime to cook kusshi. They are shear perfection fresh from the shell in their own sauce.

  2. October 6, 2009 7:20 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post. I’m a big fan of Mr Robuchon myself. All the dishes look stellar and i recognize some of the dishes served a L’atelier in NY as well. When did you go? I know Mr Robuchon is at the Vegas restaurant this week. I got to meet him in NY last wednesday… http://www.zencancook.com/2009/10/an-afternoon-with-joel-robuchon/

  3. October 6, 2009 7:31 pm

    Liz, the kusshis were delicious. I know you’re a fan from your Bouchon post. You can see from the photo that they were slightly smaller than if left raw but when they say “poached”, I think it was really just cooked by the echiré butter melted onto it. If all butter tasted this good, I’d be 30 lbs heavier.

    Zenchef, I actually read your post earlier this week. Great post and I loved the photos. Sounds like a once in a lifetime experience. We went a week ago and missed him :(

  4. juma permalink
    October 6, 2009 7:37 pm

    I envy you!!!

  5. October 7, 2009 11:11 am

    that looks like a fantastic meal…the oysters where particular interesting…maybe more warmed than poached? thanks for the awesome job

  6. October 7, 2009 11:26 am

    Gav, more warmed than poached is a better description. “Poached” was their wording.

  7. October 13, 2009 10:03 pm

    OMG. I loved this place in new york!! you guys went all out! my mouth is watering so bad right now. damn. yum.

  8. October 14, 2009 7:23 pm

    Phew!

    I think I need a cigarette!

  9. Keisha permalink
    October 21, 2009 1:42 pm

    Your pics are great! What kind of camera do you have? I’m shopping for a new one. Oh and I LOOOOOOVED L’Atelier!

    • October 21, 2009 1:51 pm

      Thanks Keisha! I’m using a Nikon D40. Pretty much their entry level DSLR. But I’m thinking of upgrading.

  10. Thegirl permalink
    November 12, 2009 11:04 pm

    Memories.

  11. April 15, 2010 10:59 pm

    It’s interesting comparing their Las Vegas and Taipei menus…the only overlap is the yummmy foie gras ravioli! Although, I think the Taipei dessert was prettier :) and macaron trumps chocolate truffle!

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