When the Chef of the Century says, “This is one of the greatest menus I have ever created,” serious eaters sit up and take notice. And that’s exactly what has arrived courtesy of Joël Robuchon at Strip’s only three-Michelin-star restaurant (in MGM Grand, 702-891-7358).
The 18-course tasting menu ($445) was created at Robuchon’s Tokyo restaurant for its 20th anniversary. It was such a hit that it eventually made its way to his other famed outposts before finally making its way to Las Vegas.
“It’s a mixing of modern and traditional cuisine,” executive chef Claude Le Tohic says. “They experimented with the format in Tokyo. And after doing this menu in Singapore and Bordeaux, they came to Las Vegas with something even better and more accurate, because they had a chance to train and [to learn] what was working. I think when we put this menu in Las Vegas they had the right formula with the right dishes.”
While Robuchon has in the past offered a 16-course menu at his fine-dining temple, this elaborate presentation isn’t accomplished by simply adding two more dishes. This dinner consists of four services, each a well-calibrated trio prepared with stunning technique. “Three small appetizers with completely different flavors,” Le Tohic says. “It’s a lot of diversity on one plate.”
The first bites are light, but powerful, including a foie gras carpaccio with potatoes and black truffles. The second service goes a little heavier, exemplified by the black truffle tart with confit onions and bacon and more truffles and frog leg fritters with garlic puree. For the third, more delicate flavors return in the form of seared scallops with kumquats and caviar and la soupe folichonne, which translates as “the cavorting soup,” a medley of herbs in aromatic broth. The last round wakes up the palate with Asian influences in bites such as caramelized black pepper cod with bok choy and spiny lobster with green curry jus and coriander.
The final course, served and carved tableside for guests, goes back to tradition. Currently it’s Rossini-style chateaubriand with foie gras, but a recent menu change includes confit lamb shoulder. And it’s not a meal at Robuchon without his famous pound-of-butter purée pommes de terre.
As for guests of Robuchon who have indulged in the extravagant menu? “They love it,” LeTohic says. “It’s very exciting, a different way to eat.”
And when Robuchon himself returns in the summer, the menu will change, but not the format. So you might experience an entirely new 18-course menu in just a few months.