Sin City is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Las Vegans aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential. Know a chef who wants to share some top dining spots? The tipline is open.
At 27, Sebastian Dumonet has already become the director of operations for Joël Robuchon’s two restaurants at the MGM Grand. He was part of the opening team at Aria, working as a general manager at Sweet Chill, Roasted Bean and Skybox Bar & Grill. He worked at a restaurant and ultra-lounge in Bellevue, Wash. He returned to Las Vegas 17 months later to become the general manager at Lavo at the Palazzo before moving over to Joël Robuchon as an assistant general manager. For nearly two years now, he’s been the director of operations for both restaurants, overseeing the Michelin-three star Joël Robuchon restaurant and his Michelin-one star L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Last month, the team was nominated for Best Service by the James Beard Foundation for 2015. Here Dumonet shares three of his favorite restaurants in Las Vegas, including vegan options that he can enjoy with his wife.
Which restaurants do you turn to when you’re not working?
I would be lying by omission if I didn't say that dining in one of the Robuchon restaurants was a favorite way to enjoy a dinner when not working. Of the two venues, my preference on a day off would be our more casual and convivial L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Beyond that, my two favorites within which to relax are Shibuya at the MGM Grand or Sage at Aria.
What dishes are most memorable?
One aspect that I love about dining is taking myself out of that "comfort zone" of ordering what I know I'll like. Because of that, I have to say that I'm a sucker for tasting menus: I love letting the chef compose the meal the way they think it should be served. Chef Heather Zhang at Shibuya and chef Sean McClain's culinary team (led by Richard Camarota and his newly appointed chef de cuisine Christophe DeLellis) at Sage are better left to their own devices. Where an a la carte menu may stifle a chef's creativity or overwhelm the palate, a series of small plates designed in tandem can create a perfect experience. In accordance with the food, Shibuya's sake program and their servers' knowledge of the beverage allow for really tasty accompaniments that break the wine pairing mold and remind us that we can accentuate food with something other than wine; as for Sage, who's cocktail program is out of this world, I find nothing better than a nice scotch (which general manager Robert Nikoderm might agree with) at the end of the evening, and Sage delivers with a detailed and rare selection for just about any price point.
Why do you enjoy going there?
Despite being in the Robuchon restaurants for the better part of my days, there really is no better place to enjoy such a high level of cuisine; I love sitting at the counter in L'Atelier and enjoying a conversation with newly made friends who share the same passion for food or watching the chefs prepare dishes for myself and neighboring clientele... It is a wonderful way to enjoy a culinary experience. What truly makes these three venues special to me however is their focus on dietary restrictions, and more importantly on vegan cuisine, which allows me the opportunity to share a culinary experience with my wife outside of a fully vegan restaurant. Although I happily opt for the non-vegan options, something special needs to be said about a restaurant that proffers a vegan tasting menu alongside a regular, with such an in-depth flavor profile that it leaves the two of us arguing who had the better meal!