Joël Robuchon at the Mansion

One of our many memorable meals at this palace of gastronomy included an appetizer as part of a 15-course degustation, or tasting menu. It was composed of a micro-thin, perfectly round pastry wafer, a thin layer of crème fraiche, and a blanket of round, thin shavings of black truffle. It was one of those creations one hesitates to eat, so as not to destroy it. The maitre d’ here said the dish took, incredibly, 18 minutes to plate. It’s that type of meticulousness that separates Robuchon from the rest.

The chef’s menus are seasonal, but look for dishes such as lobster en cocotte, an amazing langoustine ravioli topped with black caviar, and potato salad laced with truffle and foie gras shavings that your mother never made.

Well-known for labor-intensive and visually stunning dishes, and for his vast knowledge of food chemistry, Robuchon was voted Chef of the Century in a French poll. Are we even qualified to argue?

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Gyoza, Monta

Dishing With Grace

Gyoza, Monta

This bustling noodle shop’s gyoza, or hand-made dumplings, take a little extra time, so when you order, the waitress will immediately shout over your shoulder to the kitchen that you’d like some. The gyoza are made in-house daily with pork and vegetables, then pan-fried for a nice crust on the outside. Make your own dipping sauce from the accoutrements in front of you: soy sauce, a little vinegar and a little chili oil or shichimi seven spice. $5, 5030 Spring Mountain Road, Suite 6, 367-4600.

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