>> Wednesday, October 26, 2011
"There is no such thing as the perfect meal. You can always do better."
It's this perfectionist attitude that has made Joel Robuchon the success that he is today.
Joel Robuchon makes magic happen. There's a reason why this guy has amassed more Michelin stars (26!) than any other chef in the world. He has won countless awards, winning top honors in every ranking system you can imagine (Forbes Travel Guide 5 stars, S. Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants, Gayot 19/20, just to name a few).
Inspired by the simplicity of Japanese cuisine and critical of the excess richness of classic French cuisine, Joel Robuchon sought to bring out the inherent beauty in flavors from natural ingredients.
We'd been to this restaurant once before, ordering a shorter, pre-theater meal. Even then, we were already blown away by that initial experience.
This time, in celebration of our 10th anniversary, we went for the pinnacle - the Menu Degustation, a sixteen-course tasting menu highlighting truly the best that Joel Robuchon has to offer.
Let me tell you . . . though it sounds crazy, it's worth the extra couple hundred dollars. The Menu Degustation is many, many levels better than the "normal" meal we enjoyed last time. In fact, it was one of the best meals we've had.
But really, why am I trying to tell you in words?
"Let us eat bread . . ."
One of my favorite parts of the meal starts right at the beginning.
The famous bread cart houses dozens of intricately, beautifully made loaves, buns, and baguettes of all shapes and sizes. Do you know the restaurant employs seven pastry chefs?
The waiter rolls this cart right up to your table and you choose whatever you want to try. It's always an impossible task choosing between them all. Somehow, however, we are able to manage.
Our waiter shaves a perfect, circular sliver of butter, and hands it to us along with some extra virgin olive oil to enjoy with our delicious bread selections. Everything is done with precision, care, and elegance. The place hums along almost like an enchanted castle, where drinks magically refill, silverware appear, and plates are cleared at just the right time.
Cherry gazpacho with sheep ricotta and pistachios
Our first course arrives - a cheerful, vivid red, soup made with cherries! I love the sweet, tart, and bright flavors of the fruit in this unique gazpacho. It's velvety, super smooth, and intense in flavor. I slowly savor each bite, not wanting it to end.
Duo of creamy avocado and coriander on spiced tomato pulp
This second dish is truly a creative combination of flavors inspired from Mexican cuisine. I like how the almonds add a definitive crunch to the otherwise smooth and creamy dish.
Green asparagus with lemon balm, chilled veloute with panna cotta, maki of thin couscous
Next is a trio inspired by asparagus and caviar. Bryan doesn't really like asparagus, but even he concedes that the asparagus dishes are incredible. In fact, they turn out to be among his favorite of the evening! Every single element of each dish is thoughtfully designed, meticulously executed, and exquisitely displayed. The chilled veloute is our favorite of the bunch, infused with a pronounced yet subtle asparagus essence and topped with caviar. Seriously perfection on a plate.
La Noix de Saint Jacques
Seared scallop, heart of palm scented coconut milk
I am amazed at the intricate cutting skills involved in creating the perfect micro-cubes of carrots and celery on top of the scallop. This slightly seared scallop comes together with the coconut milk to form a beautiful melange of flavors - a perfect balance of savory umami, creamy sweetness, and herbaceous overtones.
Savory scented fava bean cream with sweet onion foam
I love fava beans, so it's no surprise that I savor every spoonful of the sweet, frothy "cream" soup that comes next. It reminds me almost of an elegant cappuccino, in some ways.
Truffled langoustine ravioli, roasted lobster in broth, “chaud-froid” of sea urchin on fennel potato puree with anise orange
The next trio focuses on shellfish prepared a variety of ways. You see incorporation of elements presented earlier in the meal, such as asparagus and caviar. I always have loved the sweetness of langoustines, and this is no exception. The single bite of the truffled ravioli is absolutely delicious, as are the other two entrees. I'm typically not a huge uni fan (unless if I'm in Japan), but even I admit that this sweet puree is a nice way of preparing this delicacy.
Turbot and artichoke cooked in cocotte, barigoule jus
The turbot is good, although it does not stand out to me in the same way as some of the other dishes. Perhaps it's because I'm getting a bit full?
Slowly cooked zucchini with fresh almonds, bacon and curry
I must be a sucker for vegetarian dishes, because I absolutely love this next dish. I've always enjoyed cooked nuts, so it's no surprise that I really like the textural crunch of the fresh almonds in the dish. The various elements in this dish are cut to roughly the same size, yet each has its own unique texture. A perfectly fried zucchini flower and a thoughtfully placed shallot ring complete the gorgeous presentation of this dish.
Sautéed veal chop with natural jus and pesto vegetable taglierinis
We then receive an absolutely perfectly cooked piece of veal served alongside the most interesting vegetable noodles!The meat is tender, juicy, and ever-so-flavorful. The noodles are whimsical, fun, and delicious as well.
Risotto of soybean sprouts, lime zest and chives
"Le Soja", this next soybean dish, really stands out in my mind because it is so unusual. Soy bean sprouts are chopped to resemble rice. This mixture is then cooked somehow so that the final produce really does rmind you of risotto. The individual "rice" grains still retain a bit of the crunch from the bean sprouts, yet the dish as a whole is creamy and rich full of umami. The pistachios on top add a nice, textural component to the dish.
Layered mango variations, strawberry gelee, almond cake
Desserts arrive like pieces of art, with almost every dish incorporating some elements of gold!
Caramel parfait, hazelnut marjolaine, chocolate sauce
Because it is our anniversary, they bring over a crazy special cake!
Yum! It's a multi-layered ice cream cake!
Just in case you haven't had your complete share of sugar yet, they then roll out the mignardises cart! Yikes!
You can choose to try anything. It's totally up to you! Even though I am tempted to sample everything, I know my stomach can't handle it, so I just chose five.
And of course, Joel Robuchon always gives the ladies something to take home . . .
What could it be?
A lovely poundcake! To be honest, I liked the box of chocolates I got last time better. Nevertheless, its' always fun to be able to bring something home! There was also a typed up scroll with the menu printed on top, as well as a colored booklet with pictures of all the dishes we had just enjoyed.
Happy 10 years! Here's to many, many more decades together.
Note - if you want more details about the restaurant in general, definitely check out the first post I wrote on this restaurant back in 2010. Much of what I wrote about in that post still stands, with just the prices changing a bit since last time.
Joel Robuchon (4-course tasting menu)
The Las Vegas Eating Guide
This is part 7 (the final post) of a larger Series The Vegas Anniversary. Other posts in this series:
Lotus of Siam
Bouchon Bistro (lunch)
3799 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109