I made my third trip to Joel Robuchon's L'Atelier at the MGM Grand hotel tonight. Some people asked me why I chose to stay at the MGM Grand instead of the Wynn where my other co-workers were shacking up. My response: I have foie gras on the ground floor at the MGM!
A case in point was the amuse bouche that Robuchon's kitchen offered at the beginning of the meal -- and after I ordered a $130 bottle of Bruno Paillard's "Brut Premiere Cuvee" Champagne. It was a shot glass layered with foie gras and a port reduction whose deep scarlet hue offset the parmesan foam on top. Before dinner, Todd and I had an ongoing debate about the foie war. Todd and Emili were trying to convince Missy to join their side against me and Adam, two bonafide members of The Foie Faction
. Missy said she would stay neutral until she tasted some foie gras and decided whether she can live with or without it. Needless to say, she dug into the foie gras amuse bouche like a prisoner who was about to dig his way to freedom.
Because Missy and I weren't too hungry, we decided to share three plates of appetizers. Our first fix was an eggplant caviar. I was expecting eggplant diced into teeny-tiny cubes. Instead, I received a grayish puree of eggplant that got a kick out of some dots of hot sauce.
Our three slivers of tuna were perfectly seared and accessorized with fried onions, capers and olives.
I was disappointed that the foie gras burgers were tainted with beef. In the past, Robuchon's crew would sear thumb-sized pieces of foie gras
and serve them on mini brioche buns with red peppers glazed in a ginger sauce. So I chose the purest form of foie gras on the menu: ravioli stuffed with foie in a basil-seasoned broth.
The wasabi cream gave a little kick to the gloriously smooth foie gras. I got to eat three of the four raviolis because Missy was getting full. Foie forever!
Todd didn't let a little foie war get in the way of sitting next to me. He had the testing menu, which included an appetizer of a mille feuille comprising eggplant layered with mozzarella cheese. The basilic swirlicues were a nice touch.
Todd's main course in the tasting menu was a rib-eye steak, cooked medium rare.
Though I took my last sip of coffee four years ago, I am still willing to take pictures of java. This is Todd's espresso, which was served with a spearmint-flavored truffle.
Two bottles of Champagne among seven people didn't amount to much booze. To balance the disequilibrium, I had a glass of French muscat to accompany my chocolate mousse.
Doesn't this chocolate mousse look like a Pop Art painting? The thin layer of hardened chocolate flecked with dots of berry puree and gold dust reminded me of a Yayoi Kusama painting. The black yolk traced its origins to an Oreo, which, thanks to the use of lard as a key ingredient, could be considered the foie gras of cookies.
This is the dessert-cum-painting all broken. One of our dinner mates recounted the tale of how casino magnate Steve Wynn recently busted his Picasso painting. Though my dessert didn't cost me nearly $100 million, I pretended that I pulled a Wynn.