L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas

When I decided to go on a trip to Las Vegas, I knew I wanted at least one fancy pants meal. After doing some reading about the various places in Las Vegas, I settled on L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon as the place where we’d have our most expensive meal, to be eaten on the Saturday before we went to a showing of KÀ.

LAtelier de Joël Robuchon

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

I’ve actually had my eye on this upscale chain of restaurants for a while now. I had planned on going there while in Hong Kong last year, but on the only day I had free I wasn’t feeling hungry at all and ended up going to sleep early instead of trying to find my way there. Because of this, L’Atelier was high on my Vegas to-do list.

This location of L’Atelier is located right next to the casino floor and they had the doors propped open, which meant that some of the casino sounds filtered into the restaurant. Part way through my meal they closed one of the doors and most of the sounds went away, so at some point I actually forgot we were right next to the casino. Next to the restaurant is Robuchon’s other restaurant at the MGM Grand, Joël Robuchon at The Mansion (which I considered for my list but crossed off due to the price). And next to that fantastic entrance (look at the chandelier in the foyer!) was the KÀ Theatre.

Joël Robuchon at the Mansion and KÀ Theatre

Joël Robuchon at the Mansion and KÀ Theatre

In Las Vegas, L’Atelier is a one-star Michelin French restaurant. A majority of the restaurant’s seating is at a bar surrounding and facing the open kitchen, similar to a sushi bar. An important part of the dining experience here is watching the kitchen staff make your food. It is for this reason that Robuchon calls this series of restaurants “the workshop,” or L’Atelier.

bar seating at LAtelier de Joël Robuchon with the casino viewable through the window

bar seating at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon with the casino viewable through the window

The decor was very modern with lots of reds and blacks. The kitchen was decorated by large vases of fruits, eggs, and vegetables floating in water, as well as giant fake apples and round hanging greenery.
Continue reading

Advertisements

New York Pretzel and Auntie Anne’s, Las Vegas

Happy 4th of July to you Americans out there. I figure it’s appropriate that I start my Las Vegas trip posts today. But I bet you didn’t think my first post about Vegas was going to be about pretzels, did you?

We landed in Vegas and by the time we had our rental car and checked into the MGM Grand hotel it was past 9 p.m. Now, Vegas is a 24-hour kind of town, but we were exhausted and only wanted a snack. So instead of having a full meal we decided to take advantage of some coupons I had found online and pick up a couple of pretzels.

New York Pretzels is scattered in a few of the different Strip hotels, and seems to be connected to Nathan’s Famous. These initial pretzels were from the location inside the New York New York hotel. The staff were efficient and friendly. I decided to go for one salted pretzel and – to change things up a bit – one jalapeño and parmesan pretzel. The salted pretzel was gorgeous: fresh out of the oven, buttery and soft, and with the perfect ratio of salt. It had a golden crust and super soft bread inside. It reminded me of pretzels that I ate years ago during a visit to New York.

The jalapeño one had been sitting under the warming lights for a little while and wasn’t hot anymore. The pretzel itself was a little dry, but the flavour was quite good and they had enough jalapeños to satisfy but not too many that you’d burn your mouth off. I would have loved to have tasted this one freshly baked.

salted and jalapeño parmesan pretzels from New York Preztels in New York New York

salted and jalapeño parmesan pretzels from New York Preztels in New York New York

Continue reading

Cactus Club Cafe, Edmonton

Some friends and I planned a dinner out on Saturday, April 25th, so I suggested we try out the newly opened (as in opened two days before on the 23rd) Cactus Club Cafe location over at West Edmonton Mall. Edmonton used to have a local location of this Western Canadian chain a long time ago, but it didn’t fare very well and closed relatively quickly.

Despite its brief stint in Edmonton, the Cactus Club Cafe has been around for many years. More recently in the past few years, much like how Earls and Moxie’s is also doing, the Cactus Club Cafe is working to make their menu, decor and atmosphere more sophisticated. When (Canadian celebrity chef and  Iron Chef America winner against Masaharu Morimoto) Chef Rob Feenie’s assocation ended with Vancouver’s Lumiere and Feenie restaurants, he later popped back into the public eye as the new “Food Concept Architect” for the Cactus Club Cafe. They’ve used his name to great advantage; his face is all over the website, he often talks to the media about the food at the Cactus Club Cafe, and all of his specific dishes are marked on the menus with a special RF logo.

As the restaurant had just opened, I half-expected service to be a bit slow but all of the staff were unfailingly attentive and helpful, and the food arrived quickly. (Other blogs and Chowhound discussions say that staff were flown in from Vancouver to ensure smooth service.)

The restaurant is located in a free-standing location in the northwest corner of the mall where a car repair shop used to be (Sears, I think). There is no entrance via the mall at all; an interesting decision that I hope doesn’t hurt them later when the tourists and locals stay inside the mall and don’t want to walk outside in bad weather.

The decor is modern but comfortable, with a mix of different textures and materials. Red leather seats, wood panelled walls and tables, glass, and even a concrete block wall gives the place an interesting look. The lights are dimmed somewhat so the red of the seats are muted. The booths are spacious, and art is featured on many of the walls (including some from Andy Warhol). A large patio was already set with lounge-style outdoor furniture, although at the time it was still too chilly for people to sit outside.

To start, a couple of people ordered bellinis and promptly declared them delicious. (Sorry, no photo. They stirred and slurped the drinks before I could take the camera out.)

We all shared a couple of appetizers. The first dish was an order of calamari, red pepper and jalapeño, dusted with fresh dill and served with chipotle aioli and tzatziki dips. The calamari was tender and the jalapeños gave the dish a lot of heat. (Lots and lots of heat.)

calamari

calamari

Continue reading

Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro, Calgary

This post is about an October 2008 visit to Calgary.

I needed a restaurant on or near Stephen Avenue for a dinner with friends. A few years ago I went to Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro for dinner and throughly enjoyed myself, so I decided it was time for a return visit. The decor of the restaurant is contemporary with lots of brick; a perfect place for the young professionals in the area to unwind after a hard day at work. Not to say that you have to dress up to eat here – there were quite a few people in sports jerseys and jeans, grabbing a meal before a football game.

Some of us ended up ordering some of the same dishes, so there are actually only three photos. I also have to apologize for the blurriness of the photos; it was pretty dark in there and after taking numerous photos I gave in to my hunger instead of my need for perfect photos.

One dish ordered was the Mussels & Frites with vine ripened tomato, garlic, white wine, parsley & caper broth. The mussels were large, fresh and perfectly cooked. The accompanying broth had a strong tomato base that complimented the mussels very well. The fries were served with an addicting lemon aioli and Parmesan shavings on top.

mussels

mussels

frites

frites

Continue reading