Steve Benjamin

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

Despite having what appears to be an American name, this friendly Parisian is as French as a Camembert wrapped in a tricolor. When Benjamin first came to the MGM Grand six years ago, his accent was as thick as the crème Anglaise served on desserts in his restaurant. Today, he’s lost much of the accent and speaks fluent English. He’s made Las Vegas his permanent home.

What makes him great? Simply that from day to day, year to year, the kitchen at L’Atelier is the most consistently excellent on the Strip. It’s virtually impossible to get a bad dish here, and that includes faithful and difficult reproductions of the dishes that made his boss so famous, such as his celebrated mashed potatoes, stuffed quail and papillotte of langoustine.

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House-Smoked Salmon Pizza, Spago

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House-Smoked Salmon Pizza, Spago

Wolfgang Puck pioneered the California-style pizza, using nouveau ingredients that go well beyond sausage and pepperoni. The smoked salmon pizza has been a mainstay at Spago throughout the years, but it’s not on the menu. A thin-crust pizza is built with crème fraîche and silky smoked salmon, then topped with an only-in-Beverly-Hills twist: caviar and gold leaf. Each bite is worth every penny—all 3,700 of ’em! $27, $37 (with caviar), in the Forum Shops at Caesars, 369-6300.

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