JOËL ROBUCHON (the restaurant, not the man) is not something most people would like a steady diet of.
ELV of course, is something (and someone) else entirely.
Could we eat this food every day? No, but every other day wouldn’t be so bad.
Truth be told, this is cooking like most mortals will never experience in their lives. The best ingredients, the best technique, the most finely tuned seasonings — everything designed to extract the maximum texture and flavor from every ingredient. French food is about nothing as much as intensification, and intensity is what you taste in every bite at Joel Robuchon.
Is JR the perfect restaurant? No, it isn’t. Nor do we want it to be. Perfection is boring.* Sometime the high-flying combinations work beautifully (tissue-thin ravioli encasing a rich, barely cooked langoustine dotted with black truffle), and sometimes the food can seem overwrought (green asparagus with with chilled veloute inside rounds of panna cotta, wrapped with a maki of thin cous cous, topped with yes, more caviar). The former, delectable in its simplicity, the latter from the too-much-is-not-enough school of creative cooking. But even when we’re overwhelmed by all the cartwheels in the kitchen, the dishes are still fun and hyper-delicious.
We’re also not fond of the lighting (a touch too bright for the formality of the food), and the various gee gaws decorating the plates — looking all the world like left-over, Lilliputian Christmas ornaments atop some harsh-to-the-touch mesh-y stuff that this kitchen loves to place under a variety of dishes. But that’s about it.
Those are minor quibbles compared to one bite of what might be the best lamb dish on the planet. La selle rôtie avec une compotée d’aubergine au cumin and citron is everything lamb should be: tender, subtly lamb-y, but plenty meaty, with an earthy tang. Roasted just so, it comes sitting among a cumin-scented, eggplant compote that might be the last word in lamb accents. It would be an easy dish to throw out of balance with too much or too little of any of the accompaniments, but instead comes across as both light and substantial — a meat eater’s nirvana that respects your cholesterol count.
Robuchon’s summer menu is full of such treats. A reading of Les Plats (main courses) reveals a daikon-yuzu puree here, and a plenty of vegetable essences there. This is a lighter Robuchon but not Robuchon-lite, if you get our drift, and the master’s touch (and that of James Beard Award-winning Executive Chef Claude Le Tohic) is evident in how mind-boggling the flavors can be amidst such bountiful buoyancy.
Sure it’s expensive, but it’s also life-changing and life-affirming food…as good as anything in the world.
And it’s right in our backyard.
In the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino
3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
* Example #1: Japanese cars. Example #2: Tom Brady (and his women).