Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fine Dining At The MGM Grand

L'Atelier de Joel RobuchonI am back in Vegas after two years, this time at the MGM Grand. The last time I had stayed at the Venetian at the other end of The Strip. The hotel and the rooms are not as impressive as the more recently built Venetian, but the MGM Grand is a foodie's delight. Anchoring the fine-dining options in this large casino hotel is legendary French chef Joel Robuchon's signature restaurant and the only one to be awarded three Michelin stars in this city so far.

Celebrity chef run restaurants abound at MGM Grand: in addition to Joel Robuchon, there are restaurants run by Tom Colicchio, Michael Mina, Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse here. In all there are 10 fine dining restaurants, an equal number of casual dining restaurants, multiple Starbucks and a quick-service foodcourt containing everything from Häagen-Dazs to McDonald's - all within this massive hotel.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon VegasLet me begin with my dinner at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. A very sexy decor in deep blacks and bright reds fits right into the Vegas landscape. The ambiance is casual, fun but sophisticated. The bar-style seating around the open kitchen affords a close-up view of the chefs creating their edible masterpieces.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Vegas
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Vegas
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon VegasI struck a conversation with the person seated next to me. He turned out to be a Frenchman from Geneva, who (as you can expect) knew everything about Robuchon, his restaurants in Paris, and the chefs cooking at this one. He pointed out the red-blue-white collar on the chef's uniform and said this was a recognition of winning France's Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition - the ultimate recognition for every chef in that country obsessed with culinary excellence.

They served some warm breads and butter and then presented an exquisite amuse bouche to begin tonight's dinner. The Foie gras parfait with parmesan port wine foam was perfect on the palate: an assortment of robust tastes and textures.

Amuse of Foie Gras Parfait at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon VegasThe soup followed next. Mussels and mimolette veloute with croutons. Mimolette is among of one the many interesting French cheese stirred into a velvety sauce for the soup. Intense, but I would have enjoyed a more contrasting flavor after the parmesan amuse.

Mussel and Mimolette soup at l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon VegasThe Langoustine fritter with basil pesto followed next. A favorite with Robuchon fans and I could see why. These Norway 'baby' lobsters were perfectly crisp on the outside and flavorful inside; the basil was intense and worked very well!

Langoustine at l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon VegasI had chosen the Halibut in pepper and tomato broth as my main dish. This did not disappoint either. The fish was cooked just right and the ingredients complemented the fish perfectly as did the shimps in the broth.

Halibut at l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon VegasFinally, a platter of artisan cheese followed by a lovely selection of home-made ice-creams and sorbets. There was chocolate, lychee, raspberry, vanilla and yuzu.

Cheese platter at l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Vegas
Sorbets at l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon VegasA marvelous culinary adventure indeed. As I called it a night and walked back to my room, my new French friend was on his way to XS, the new hotspot for party-animals in Vegas. L'Atelier is a great place to try the cuisine of one of France's most celebrated chefs. If you like what you experience here, you can try his signature formal restaurant right next door where dinner is 16 courses, takes a full four hours, and costs about $500 - a bargain considering the prices at his Paris restaurant.

Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak at VegasTom Colicchio is an American celebrity chef most commonly known for being on Top Chef (until Padma Lakshmi stole the limelight from everybody else on that show). Craftsteak at the MGM Grand is a great exhibition of his talent and focus on the basics. This restaurant showcases the best meat along with some really creative and well presented starters, soups and salads.

The ambiance is sophisticated and warm. Lots of dark wood, antique glassware and chandeliers. The waitstaff here is excellent too.

Craftsteak at VegasI began by ordering an Espresso Martini and it was as interesting as it sounds! The drink was made of Van Gogh espresso, vodka, kahlua and fresh espresso.

Espresso Martini at CraftsteakOrdered a salad of roasted red peppers, garlic slivers, olive oil and basil. Simple but very effective both in the appearance and in the mouth. Ekdum jhakaas like my friends from Mumbai would say!

Salad of Roasted red peppers at CraftsteakThe 8 oz Flat Iron Steak was served with a side of baby spinach in garlic butter. The meat was flavorful, tender and very enjoyable. I was glad to decided to order the spinach instead of the traditional mac-and-cheese side.

Flat Iron Steak at Craftsteak Vegas
Baby spinach in butter garlic at Craftsteak VegasAll in all, this is another winner for anyone who loves his meat and is hungry for some sophisticated indulgence of the carnivorous kind in Sin City.


Shweta said...

Vegas is def one of my fav places..its so much fun!!...I stayed at MGM and was not too happy either...there are bunch of better places to live including the recent ones like Aria...
I loved the diff variety of cheese u described in your post..sounds yummy! ultimate vegas vacation is to stay at Bellagio in a room overlooking the fountain and gambling my way to glory and hopefully winning...classic..haha!

Sassy Fork said...

Vegas has some awesome hotels...Venetian for one

Shantanu said...

@Shweta: Yup, Aria is a new property. If you are moneyed enough, Wynn now has the exclusive Encore which is home to the hottest club in Vegas today, XS.

@Sassy Fork: Yup, love the Venetian too.

indicaspecies said...

Mussels and mimolette veloute with croutons, and Halibut in pepper and tomato broth sounds yummy. Espresso martini would complement those!

Sarah Jones said...

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Vegas Deals said...

Lots of great dining in Vegas! :) Lots of choice for everything, even accommodation!