Joël Robuchon is one of the most well known and decorated chefs. He was named Chef of the Century in 1989, and has accumulated 26 Michelin Guide stars, more than any other chef in the world.
Joël Robuchon restaurant in Las Vegas, located inside the MGM Grand Hotel, is the lone 3 Michelin star restaurant in Las Vegas. When planning my trip to Vegas, I wanted at least one very nice fine dining experience at a Michelin star restaurant. I spent quite a bit of time researching the various restaurants, but once I stumbled onto Robuchon, with its promises of a grand bread cart and a mignardises dessert cart, my mind was made up.
A little internet research alerted me to the fact that Joel Rubochon offers a complimentary gold limousine transportation to and from your hotel to the restaurant. This was perfect for us because we were staying at the Encore, which is quite a walk from the MGM and we didn’t have a car. If you do wish to use their limo service, make sure you make your limo reservation at least 24 hours in advance, but I would advise even earlier.
The limo experience isn’t just limited to a complimentary limo, but it also provides you a glimpse into another part of the MGM Grand that is not usually viewable to the general public. Rather than taking you to the public entrance, the limo takes you to a private entrance, full of villas, fountains, lush greens. These grounds are reserved for stars and high rollers invited to stay at the villas. Once we arrived, the hostess greeted us, and escorted us through the private sections of the MGM until we reached the restaurant.
The restaurant setting is intimate, holding only a dozen tables. It gives the appearance of entering someone’s house rather than a restaurant, with the hanging chandelier, and chairs filled with plush royal purple pillows. On the table, everything was lined with gold, from the place mats, to the napkin holders, to the silverware.
The restaurant offers a few prix fixe options as well as a full 14-16 course menu degustation ($425 per person). We were not considering the menu degustation for several reasons (budget, stomach space, time constraints). All the prix fixe menus include a complimentary amuse bouche, the famed bread cart, and the mignardises cart. The prices vary depending on how many courses you want to have, ranging from two to four6. Robuchon is flexible and allows your party to choose different prix fixe options. A lot of restaurants I’ve dined at require everyone at the table to order the same tasting menu.
I was undecided between the four and six course menus but ended up choosing the four course. This was something I immediately regretted after sampling my first course.
Once I started browsing the prix fixe menu choices, I could definitely see why so many people end up choosing the full menu degustation. First, none of the menu degustation options were offered on the prix fixe menu. Second, while the prix fixe menus are quite a bit less in price, over half of the prix fixe choices had supplements that required an additional cost (ranging between $35-80 extra). If you choose a few of the dishes that require the additional charge, suddenly $425 for 16 courses doesn’t sound so bad. Finally, I found the descriptions and dishes offered on the menu degustation to be much more enticing than the ones being offered on the prix fixe menu.
First, our complimentary amuse bouche.
The dish came out with smoke swirling around the clear glass bowl. It was an entertaining effect. Inside the bowl was a blood orange gelee. It was cold, tangy, and a perfect way to start the meal.
After our amuse bouche, the famed bread cart arrived. It was as wonderful as I had hoped. The cart is brimming with bread. The picture only shows the top layer, but there’s more bread on the shelves below. After listing off more than a dozen offerings, we each selected a few from the cart.
Milk bread, baguette, traditional brioche
Basil focaccia, bacon epi and one I can’t remember
I enjoyed the breads on FH’s plate best. The basil focaccia was very soft. The bacon epi had bacon. And the circle roll was light and flaky.
Le Foie Gras (foie gras on a turnip veloute, chilled beef consomme gelee)
Small cubes of foie gras sat in a chilled broth. Bits of crunchy bread croutons added some texture contrast. The chilled broth really let the rich pieces of foie gras shine through.
Le Homard (lobster and artichoke salad with citrus coriander scented vegetables)
When I first saw this on the menu, I didn’t think it sound that appealing and normally I love anything with lobster. But this ended up being a delicious dish that tasted even better than its beautiful presentation. FH usually doesn’t care too much for lobster and he loved this. I also noted the care that was taken into the presentation of each dish. For example, FH’s plate is actually white, but was painted with colorful circles to match the food on the plate.
Le Chataigne (light chestnut cream with foie gras on bacon foam)
I could definitely taste the foie gras in the soup and the bacon foam added an additional saltiness as well as a little texture to the soup. It was a lovely soup but probably the only dish of the night I wasn’t swooning over. Again, the presentation was great. On the plate was a picture of chestnuts to represent the chestnut cream soup.
After the second course, we were again presented with another round of bread options. I happily chose the flaky bread whose name I can’t remember and also opted to try the saffron focaccia.
Fh chose the cheese brioche and a country roll.
Le Riz (Pilaf style rice with sea urchin, caramelized lobster with oriental flavors)
I enjoy uni but usually when I order it in a cooked dish, the uni flavor disappears. This is the first cooked uni dish I’ve had where I could really taste the uni in every bite of the rice. It was rich, salty like the sea, and subtlety sweet too. The lobster was cooked perfectly. And the foam added even more uni flavor. I’ve been a bit wary about foam in dishes as some chefs seem to use it just for presentation. But I felt that for each of the dishes that used foam, the foam actually had a purpose in the dish.
Le Boeuf (beef ribeye, wasabi spinach and medley of bell peppers)
I’m not much of a fan of wasabi, but FH is, so this dish was perfect for him. The ribeye pieces were cooked to a perfect medium rare. The medely of vegetables were crisp with a light flavor of wasabi throughout.
All entrees are served with scoops of Joel Robuchon’s signature mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes had a very interesting texture, very unexpected. They sort of cling to the roof of your mouth. While they are unlike traditional mashed potatoes, once I got used to the texture, I really enjoyed it.
L’Orange (lightly caramelized orange infusion and chiffon cake)
I don’t particularly like citrus flavored desserts. Small pieces of orange lines a soft chiffon cake, which was soaked in an orange sauce. It was tasty, I just don’t really love orange.
After our dessert, the mignardises cart arrived.
It contains more than 40 sweets, each made fresh daily. The gentleman manning the cart presented me with the most delicate lollipop while he named off the cart selections. I really couldn’t decide what I wanted, so I let the gentleman choose a selection for me.
Here’s my assortment of sweets:
FH’s plate chose chocolate based sweets.
At the end of our meal, executive chef Claude Le Tohic came out to speak to all the guests, taking the time to stop by each table. I really liked this touch as I’ve never experienced it at any other restaurant I’ve dined at. He was very nice, took a few moments to chat with us and then even took some pictures with us.
Females are presented with a parting gift. I received a bag with a bar of chocolate. Upon request, I also received a copy of the menu from that night to keep for reference and a souvenir. It was printed on a light purple paper and wrapped up in a nice bow.
FH and I were both thoroughly impressed with our meals and I hope to come back one day to do the full menu degustation. Coming in, I had wondered what the difference would be between a 2 star and a 3 star michelin restaurant. I got my answer. FH has always claimed to not really enjoy French food, but we both thought this was the best meal we’ve experienced. And as much as we enjoyed our experience at 2 michelin star Providence, this dining experience was on a whole different level that didn’t even compare.
Joel Robuchon Restaurant
MGM Hotel Las Vegas