Perched at the very top of the Grand Lisboa casino in Macau, Robuchon au Dôme was a delightfully refreshing break from its Hong Kong/Macau 3-Star brethren in that it was actually incredibly good, reasonably priced, and full of service staff who seemed to really give a shit. This is, fortunately or unfortunately, one of only two places out of all the 3-stars in the region that I truly enjoyed.
PRICE PAID: $98 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 9.0/10
Navigating the Grand Lisboa hotel and casino to reach the restaurant requires no less than four lobbies and three elevators, a luxurious but galling approach if you're running late (as I was- which was my fault- but I prefer to blame luxury elevators).
One of the only bummers of the whole visit was the view itself-the restaurant offers stunning vistas of the thick pollution-fog from Zhongshan/coastal manufacturing China. This, according to our service staff, is actually considered a relatively clear day.
A short note on bread and butter, because I'm obsessed with such things- this was the best butter service I have yet experienced, full stop. They had two enormous pillars of butter that they "cut" and served with a spoon idling in hot water.
They basically dumped four pounds of assorted breads on the table, arranged in a lovely star shape, which more than suits me. Highest marks possible for bread. 10/10.
The amuse-bouche consisted of a sweet corn velouté with marshmallow, popcorn, and smoked duck. The presentation and colors are gorgeous, but I didn't expect it to be cold. Maybe because it sat too long before service, but the popcorn and broth have intermingled into a mealy consistency, and the sweetness doesn't stand up as well as it should. 6/10. Marshmallows make it richer without adding depth. 6/10.
I admire dishes that take something I don't automatically find appetizing- in this case beets- and make them my new fave. Beets and beetroot salad on bottom with microgreens and a delicious green mustard sorbet on top. The sorbet is incredibly refreshing- almost spicy- and pairs with the salad perfectly. My only small issue is that the microgreens are not 100% fresh. 8/10.
"Les Crustacés" - "The Crustaceans," is a shellfish soup on the right and two rice-and-shrimp balls on the left. In the soup is a hugely rich and dense variety of seafood flavors thanks to a few different kinds of shellfish along with roe to add sweetness. The miniscule, bubbly texture of the shellfish goes great with the tiny pops of the roe. Great flavor, perfect temperature. 9/10. The shrimp balls don't add a ton, and I wouldn't recommend mixing them with the soup. Crunchy rice texture is a touch dry.
Remarkably similar to a dish offered by Robuchon's place in Hong Kong (my brother got it while we were there) the idea is pretty simple- spaghetti with lobster knuckles and microbasils in a turbo-rich lobster sauce. The execution boils down to how well the lobster is cooked, and in this case they rocked it. The microbasils also have great flavors that really heightens the dish. Simple, well-thought-through. 9/10.
A main course that would make any French chef proud- beef Wagyu Bourguignon. The Wagyu is soft enough to cut with a fork, the vegetables are lightly cooked and relatively firm, which enhances the contrast. What's interesting is that the traditional recipe uses a variety of cattle called Charolais, which are actually very lean- so to instead use Wagyu, which is basically on the opposite end of the fatty spectrum, is a really cool idea. 9/10.
Thanks to the Robuchon au Dôme, I got introduced to my new favorite varietal of cheese- Epoisse, this one specifically from a producer in France called Gaugry that is, sadly, not available in the US because they don't pasteurize (as, indeed, most good French producers do not). 9/10.
An extremely delicious coffee service, complete with pink sugar cubes. 9/10.
What is very likely the most absurd dessert cart in the Eastern hemisphere rolled up next. I love envisioning the design conversation that went into this megalith.
Jacques: "Should there be ceramic mushrooms?"
Jean: "Of course, Jacques."
Jacques: "And the chocolates; should they be in small, hand-painted cocoa bean shells?"
Jean: <long stare> "Obviously, Jacques."
This cart instantly inspires joy as it is wheeled around the room; photo flashes abound and laughter fills the high glass ceiling. A small part, but nonetheless an important part of these experiences is the transportation factor- making you feel, even if only for a moment, that you are whisked to some alternative dimension where you get to see or feel something genuinely new and different. No one pays as much for these meals as they do because they care that the ducks were raised by priceless organic bees or whatever, they want to feel taken away. This is the rare restaurant that actually accomplishes this goal
A short final note- as I walked out, I could't help but inspect the massive, low-lit rows of wine racks the restaurant stores on the main floor. A truly unreal collection of Romanée-Conti, Chateau Haut-Brion, Cristal, Krug, etc. Though certainly showy, it makes a hell of a point.