L'Atelier de JoŽl Robuchon at MGM Grand is another coup for world-renowned French chef JoŽl Robuchon. This gracious culinary genius brought more than his glorious Robuchon at the Mansion to MGM Grand. Adjacent is L'Atelier de JoŽl Robuchon, a concept that "redefines casual dining."
L'Atelier -- an artist's studio -- is here referenced as dynamic interaction between kitchen and dining room, chef and diner. It is a distinct departure from the posh cuisine featured at Robuchon at the Mansion. At L'Atelier (pronounced la-tel-yea) dishes are simple, straightforward and utterly appealing.
For food drama and interaction with Chef de Cuisine Steve Benjamin (personally trained by Robuchon), sit at the U-shaped bar that looks directly into the kitchen. What was once considered behind-the-scenes is now center stage. Watch as the highest quality ingredients are transformed into mouth-watering specialties.
L'Atelier's well-priced carte is divided into two sections. The first, a selection of small plates, encourages exploration and sharing. The more traditional entrťe selection on the second section is a bit more difficult to share, but with the caring assistance of our server we managed to share all of the small and large plates ordered by my party of four.
There is, to this kind of free-form dining, complete freedom. The cheeses are flown in from France and are personally chosen by JoŽl. Among the many small dishes we ordered were miniature lamb chops seasoned with thyme. So fine was the flavor we had barely digested the first bite when we asked for more. Mediterranean vegetables layered with buffalo mozzarella and proscuitto with toasted tomato bread were simply wonderful.
For this fresh sardine-lover, sardines on toasted crisps were perfect. It took some coaxing for my friends to try these nibbles, but once convinced they took teeny bites. L'Atelier's steak tartar, a zesty mix, is served with crispy hand-cut fries.
L'Atelier features a succulent hanger steak with fried shallots. With it we shared a classic Robuchon creation, rich creamy mashed potatoes, a perfect foil for the richly sauced hanger steak.
Free range quail are stuffed with foie gras; traditionally poached foie gras torchon is served with toast; tiny poached Kumamoto oysters are served in the shell, drenched with the poaching liquid. We carefully mopped up the sauces.
Swiss pastry chef Kamel Guechida, who worked with Robuchon for more than six years, creates such desserts as chartreuse souffle with pistachio ice cream and Le Chocolat, a chocolate-lover's dream realized.
L'Atelier's menu changes with the seasons. JoŽl Robuchon's longtime sommelier, Antoine Hernandez, and Jaime Smith, MGM Grand director of wine , have assembled a global wine list featuring selections from France, Australia, California, Italy and Spain.
L'Atelier's dťcor is as colorful and stylish as its food. Vivid accents provide a striking setting. Sleek uniforms worn by the kitchen and waitstaff make a chic statement.
--Review by Muriel Stevens