Monday, April 19, 2010

Vegas Day Two--L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Saturday dawned bright but perhaps not so early. At least for my roommate. Due to some internal clock I was up at 6:30. Several hours later we motivated ourselves to head downstairs for s surprisingly good bagel with egg, cheddar and bacon at the Stage Deli outpost. It turned out to be next to the sport book area of the casino. Nothing like dog racing.

We then descended again into the bowels of the Grand Arena to get our passes for the day, this time for rehearsals and the Fremont "Experience " shows. First up for us was Faith Hill, practicing not for the awards show but for the Brooks and Dunn tribute on Monday night. She was casual in jeans and a long sleeved t shirts and quite likable as she not only sang, but told a story as well. After mis-telling the story she stopped to laugh at herself for "messing up her own story." Helpful fans handed her joke reading glasses, which she donned, albeit briefly. She was followed by her husband, Tim McGraw, also practicing for the tribute show. He was also in jeans and a t-shirt, but also a black cowboy hat. He complained about the difficulty of one of the lines in the song. Next up was Brooks and Dunn themselves. At this point, it was clearly time for a nap.

Post nap I had hoped to make it to Lotus of Siam. However, the phone was busy repeatedly and we did not want to head out there without a reservation so we decided to head downstairs to eat. Our first thought was Nob Hill, but after sitting at the very not crowded bar for 10 minutes without even a glance we decided to move on. Looking back, that was probably or best decision of the weekend.

For slightly further down the carpeted path was L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Thinking we could just go in and have a nibble or two we decided to chance it. After all, there was a foie gras burger on the ala carte menu calling my name. We were seated immediately at the counter, next to a charming man who turned out to be a regular. (Brooke, let me know about the books.) Not only did he have wonderful advice about the menu, but he knew everyone in the place from the head chef to the bussers. I imagine that service would have been wonderful anywhere, but sitting next to Brooke certainly meant that degree of attention that makes one feel very special. So much for a simple nibble, after realizing that we wanted just about everything on the menu we went for the Seasonal Discovery Menu with wine pairings. Kind of a lazy way of dealing with wine. I'll post the menu and pairings below and then offer some comments.
    l'avocat rafraichi d'une fine gelée de pamplemousse à la coriandre
    Avocado and cilantro flavored grapefruit gelee
    aux fines lamelles de raves à l'aigre-doux: King crab on a turnip disc with a sweet and sour sauce
  • First two courses were paired with: Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuve
    cuite en coquille à l'huile de ciboulette épicée
    Sea scallop cooked in the shell with chive oil
    blanche sur une flamiche aux asperges et lard fumé
    White onion tart with smoked bacon and asparagus
  • Served with Sancerre, Domaine de la Poussie 2007
    chaud de canard au confit de kumquats acidulées
    Duck foie gras with confit kumquats
  • Paired with Sauternes Chateau Lamothe Guignard 2004
    en filets, jeunes poireaux étuvés au gingembre
    Dover sole filet, baby leek with ginger
  • Mersault-Blagny 1er Cru- Domaine Matrot 2005
    au foie gras, caramélisée avec une pomme purée truffée
    Foie gras stuffed free-range quail with truffled-mashed potatoes
    de bœuf à l'échalote
    French-style hanger steak with fried shallots
  • Bordeaux Margaux Blason D'Issan 2004
    en biscuit dacquoise, gianduja à la feuillantine au goût chocolat
    Hazelnut dacquoise, gianduja crunch and chocolate ice cream
  • Banyuls Grand Cru Domaine Sardane 2001
    en crème glacée à la mousse de noix de coco sur une transparence de Champagne
    Fresh passion fruit in a coconut meringue, Champagne brut
  • Quebec-LaFace Cachee de la Pomme, Cidre de Glace Neige 2005
    Coffee or Espresso
Before I get to the individual dishes, I feel a need to offer a sentence or so ode to the bread basket. We were served three items, two rolls and what seemed to be croissant dough in a circular shape. All three were memorable. As for the food, there was nothing on the menu that was less than great. Highlights for me were the scallop which was both beautiful and fresh. It reminded me why scallops became so popular. The asparagus tart was served on a truly wonderful puff pastry dough. The asparagus was lightly cooked an shone against the smokiness of the bacon and the sweetness of the onions. Amy, strangely enough, does not like foie gras so I admit to eating both of our portions. Having just canned kumquats last weekend, I was delighted to find a creative way to pair them. Not, of course, that I cook much foie gras at home, though I could. For my main I had the quail which was probably the best version I have ever had. It was cooked perfectly and stuffed with foie gras. (As I said, so much for our light meal). Of the two desserts, I adored the passion fruit tart. Unlike most passion fruit items I have had, it made me think about the fruit part of the word.

Now a word or two on the wines. First of all, it was an incredibly generous amount of wine. Seven mainly full glasses over the course of the meal. My favorites were the sancerre, as it enhanced without overwhelming the food, the Meursault and the Ice Cider. I had only had ice cider once before on a trip to Montreal and adored it. Does anyone know if I can get it in the Bay Area?

This was not an inexpensive meal. The food was $168 and the wine pairings $105. But, given the service and quality of the food, it was a fair price. It actually brought back memories of eating in Paris. And not the Paris casino in Las Vegas. I would go again. Well, maybe if our furloughs end.

After this meal, we ended up heading over to the concerts on Fremont Street arriving in time to sit in the VIP lounge for Luke Bryan before heading over a few blocks for the "pit" for Miranda Lambert. Luke Bryan was fun and relaxed. Miranda Lambert was show to dance to. At that point it was time to head back to the hotel to crash.

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