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  1. Gayot dropped The French Laundry from its annual "Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S." list that was released a few days ago. Anyone know what's going on here? Considering that Michelin just reaffirmed the three-star rating of this restaurant, I'm left quoting Miss Clavel from "Madeline": Something is not right.
  2. That is a stellar crew, what a shame for those back in England who were eating in the London based Ramsay establishments at the same time. I don't expect chefs to be in the kitchen all the time but sending virtually all your head chefs to New York could be interpreted as showing disdain for the UK customer. ← FYI Joël Robuchon also brought over a number of his very best and most experienced chefs when opening L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the Four Seasons. Alain Verzeroli, Director de Cuisine for all the Robuchon restaurants in Tokyo, was here in Ner York. Another was Claude Le-Tohic, the Executive Chef of Joël Robuchon (formerly Joël Robuchon at The Mansion) in Las Vegas--and a holder of the highly prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France. No doubt Robuchon sent other big guns to New York as well.
  3. As for the intimacy of the room, it's the closest I've come to experiencing what it may have been like to dine in the cub room at the Stork Club. And that door to the 12 table main dining room is there for a reason--it should NOT be opened during service except by staff or by customers with reservations there. (I can't imagine Mr. Billingsley allowing customers in the bar or other areas of the Stork Club a peek in the cub room--no doubt they mostly said, "I was just curious to see what it looked like." Yeah, right. )
  4. FYI in September the restaurant ceased to be named Joel Robuchon at The Mansion and was renamed simply JOEL ROBUCHON. Still as excellent as ever, however. This is the best French restaurant in the United States. Both this restaurant and the Joel Robuchon restaurant in Tokyo appear on the DininginFrance.com list of the 10 best French restaurants in the world located outside of France.
  5. A terrific dinner in the main dining room Monday evening A friend of mine and I had dinner at the main dining room Monday evening. On the whole, we were impressed with the food and extradorinarily impressed with the high level of service. I love the dining room: it's square with no columns, large plants etc. hiding any of the tables---truly a "see and be seen" room reminiscent of someting from the thirties or forties. We ordered à la carte because my friend wanted the turbot and I the roast chicken. Here's our menu: APPETIZERS: me - Lobster ravioli, poached in its own bouillon with celery root cream, shellfish vinaigrette and chervil veloute my friend - Caramelized calves sweetbread withcreamed artichoke, ceps and a Cabernet Sauvignon sauce shared - Oven roasted foie gras with caramelized William's pears and a date millefuille --- MAIN COURSES: me - Corn fed chicken, roasted on the bone, with a fricassee of bacon, onions and prunes, sun choke puree and roasting jus (for two) my friend - Line caught uurbot poached in St. Emilion with creamed potato, braised salsify, braised baby leeks and civet sauce Portions on the whole are quite generous. The lobster ravioli - a GR signature dish - was delicious. Being a single ravioli, quite large, the lobster was the sort of preparation that American chefs of yesterday might have baked in puff pastry (back in the days when Americans ate lots of puff pastry) instead of utilizing pasta. We loved the foie gras! Coated with some toasted hazlenute, it had the richness and intensity of flavor one expects from a great FG preparation. And the pears and pear puree were nice accompaniments. I also enjoyed the roast chicken. The breast was especially tasty. (My friend took about 2/3rds of the second portion home to his girlfriend.) But by far the most interesting dish from the turbot. Here one gets a glimpse of how chef Ramsay's approach to French cooking differs from some of his peers. The sauce was rich and full flavored, interwoven with the taste of the turbot to create a unique - and very delicious - taste. How different this approach is from others such as Keller and Ducasse, who generally avoid sauces such as this, preferring to use herbs, light sauces, etc. to better showcase the natural flavor of the fish in all its glory. For dessert we had a tarte tatin for two, sliced and plated tableside. Again, the portion size was generous. This was also very good. For wine, we had a half glass with each course. The pairings were good, if unremarkable. As for the service, we had the good fortune to have a woman named Jade as our captain, who came over to the US from the flagship Royal Hospital Road restaurant. Her service was flawless - as good or better than the other four star restaurants. After dinner, we were invited to see the kitchen, where we had the chance to meet and chat with Neil Furgeson, the chef de cuisine. (Chef Ramsay flew back to the UK Sunday evening.) We also saw the chef's table - a REAL chef's table, right in the kitchen! I was, oddly enough, unoccupied. (How fun it would have been to have taken that table for opening day service, with Gordon in high gear right before your eyes!) I'm returning in two weeks, so I'll do another post. I also have a reservation in the main dining room for New Year's Eve--a STEAL at just $250 per person!
  6. FYI in September Joël Robuchon at The Mansion was renamed "Joël Robuchon". The decision was made jointly by MGM Grand management and by chef Robuchon. The reason MGM gave for the change is that, because the restaurant is actually located within the main MGM Grand hotel and casino and not in the tuscan-style mansion alongside it, it's not really "Joël Robuchon at The Mansion" and is therefore confusing. But no matter what the name, I believe this is now the finest French restaurant in the USA.
  7. I had a uniformly excellent meal with my wife and friends at The French Laundry a week and a half ago while out for the World of Flavors Conference. I don't have much to add regarding specific dishes. I am happy to say that the FOH and service in general was as good as I have experienced it there. The new Maitre'd, whose name unfortunately escapes me, came from The Breakers in Florida. The only downside of the meal was that my wife and I were both exhausted after having gotten up at 3:30AM Eastern time that morning and flying cross-country. That we enjoyed the meal as much as we did was a testament to the kitchen and our company. ← I highly recommend the recent Gastroville review of The French Laundry. Written by Vedat Milor, it is highly detailed and contains a good deal of information about various ingredients (caviar, lobster) used there.
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