Joel Robuchon at the MGM Grand is the destination for extravagance. World renowned chef Joel Robuchon and his skilled team have meticulously crafted this eponymous restaurant with attention paid to every detail from the luscious décor to the artful French-inspired cuisine, presented in a traditional and elaborate multi-course meal. It is opulence at its finest, a true feast for all the senses that reinstills a sense of celebration and revelry into the dining experience.
Tranquil Joel Robuchon seems a world away from the noise and traffic of the MGM Grand’s casino that lies just outside its doors. Inside, diners find themselves immersed in a hushed splendor and decadent surroundings reminiscent of a historic European manor. Crystal chandeliers hang from every ceiling, while plush purple velvet couches offer luxuriously individual dining niches in the main dining room. French doors lead to La Terrasse, the restaurant’s faux garden seating complete with a wall of creeping ivy, live flower beds, and Classical sculptures that capture the serene, orderly beauty of a French garden. A separate private dining room echoes the elegance of the rest of the restaurant, offering views of La Terrasse through windows and décor suggestive of a private parlor. Seating is purposefully limited at Joel Robuchon in order to encourage the sense of intimacy and exclusivity that permeates the space.
What truly sets Joel Robuchon apart is the careful consideration paid to the minutest of details. From the hand painted bread and mignardises (candy) carts to the conscientious and gracious staff, each moment of the experience is designed to lavish attention on the guest. Even the smallest decorative accents are subject to scrutiny, with flowers, table runners, glasses and serving dishes changing in accordance with the seasons.
The same level of care and precision evident in the décor is mirrored in the restaurant’s breath-taking cuisine. Executive Chef Claude Le Tohic has mastered Chef Robuchon’s uniquely complex minimalism, crafting intricate dishes with simple, clean flavors. Following the French tradition, each dish is grouped together in six, sixteen, or seasonal eight course prix-fixe dinners, creating a parade of flavor and presentation that reminds diners how to truly appreciate the art of fine cuisine.
Although for our visit we are treated to an abridged version of the regular multi-course dining event, the experience is no less indulgent. The bread cart is wheeled to our table and its staggering variety is detailed by our helpful server. Each loaf and roll is baked in house and features such inventive options as Bacon Bread, Gruyere cheese Bread, French Olive, and Basil Focaccia. I opt for the Gruyere Cheese and Basil Focaccia: crusty and sharp, the Gruyere Cheese Bread is a bold and flavorful choice while the soft, green Basil Focaccia is fluffy and light with a hint of herby freshness.
Le Bar arrives next, unveiled from beneath a glass dome at the table and saturating the air with the bright, spring-like aromas of fish and vegetables. A piece of sea bass rests in a delicate green sauce with colorful julienned vegetables scattered around the plate. Brothy and fresh, the chiffonade flavors the fish with light flavors of cilantro and parsley for a taste that is the essence of the season. Acidic and sweet notes from the julienned bell peppers punctuate the dish and add crunch to the flaky, silken fish. The 2005 Movia Sauvignon Blanc that is paired with Le Bar amplifies the vernal freshness with subtle grass and citrus notes for a fuller bodied and lightly earthy complement.
Le Foie Gras is presented next: the tender dumpling is nestled on top of a show-stopping, foliage-filled glass dish, whose green leaves mirror the bright green Savoy cabbage leaf wrapping. The dish’s namesake is revealed upon cutting into the dumpling, which emits the recognizably heady, earthy scent of foie gras. While the creamy potency of the foie gras dominates, the cabbage’s slight bitterness and the woodsy crunch of the bamboo shoots tucked inside add crispness that cuts through its intensity. It is a deft balance of the extreme richness of this luxury ingredient with a surprisingly delicate subtlety.
La Langouste is unveiled from its glass dome and fills the air with a new perfume of fennel and the salty-sweet scent of lobster. The pinkish lobster meat swims in a sea of creamy orange Viognier broth punctuated by bits of fennel, miniature mushrooms, fava beans, and carrots. The anise notes of the fennel deepen the flavors of the rich, buttery lobster meat and the creamy, slight oceanic brine of the sauce it rests in. The mixture of vegetables and fungi each contribute their own distinctive characteristics to the dish: the sweetness of the carrots, the buttery crunch of the beans, and the deep earthiness of the mushrooms introduce different personalities and add additional delicious complications and nuances. The 2006 Meursault Chardonnay that accompanies La Langouste is an exquisite pairing: its quiet hints of anise mingle with its stronger floral notes and clean finish for a clever marriage of flavor.
L’Aloe proves a refreshingly sweet addition to our spring-inspired meal. Coconut granite, aloe vera gelée and passion fruit cheesecake are layered in a tall glass cylinder entwined with a calla lily vine that adds a charming playfulness. The passion fruit’s tropical perfume teases the senses first, exploding with fruity sweetness upon first bite. The frosty, cool granite adds a nutty crunch that contrasts with the creamy cheesecake, while chunks of the aloe gelee surprise with floral freshness. It is an incomparable dessert, full of unexpected and exotic flavor revelations.
The mignardises cart is wheeled to our table to sweeten the reluctant conclusion to our meal. We are offered a selection of tempting confections, including some classics like Dark Chocolate Ganache as well as a variety of more unusual varieties like Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peel and Elderberry Meringue. Paired with coffee or tea, each mignardise is a sweetly indulgent surprise and showcases the astounding range of expertise found in the Joel Robuchon kitchen.
Joel Robuchon makes any dining experience a special occasion, meant to be savored and indulged in. With its meticulous opulence, its unparalleled service, and exquisite cuisine, the restaurant deserves the hushed awe it tends to inspire whenever people step through its impressive doors.