So if the Michelin Guide were still in Las Vegas, would it give Twist by Pierre Gagnaire at the Mandarin Oriental a Michelin 3 Star like Pierre Gagnaire in Paris?
I’d been to the Michelin 3 Star Pierre Gagnaire in Paris a couple years ago, and even in my 3 Star Ratings & Rec Guide recommend it. And after having just done Joel Robuchon at the MGM in Vegas, and having previously also done Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace, I figured it was time to complete the holy trinity of French Chefs in Vegas with Pierre Gagnaire at the Mandarin Oriental.
I’ve always been a fan of Joel Robuchon. His restaurants worldwide are always pretty solid, and his restaurants generally get a thumbs up from me. Guy Savoy on the other hand was a major disappointment in Paris, a restaurant I felt didn’t deserve its Michelin 3 Star. If anything, it should be sharing that Michelin 2 Star like its Vegas sibling.
So the question I guess is, does Twist by Pierre Gagnaire live up to the Pierre Gagnaire of Paris. Is it a Michelin 3 Star? Well, first off, I think Joel Robuchon is the clear winner in Vegas. Second, a lot of the dishes at Twist were hit or miss, and I had a lot of misses that night. The complements of the chef were some of the most mediocre and unmemorable I’ve ever had. I’m also still having trouble understanding why everyone has been raving about the langoustine prepared 5 ways. It was nothing special. I also wasn’t a fan of the morel-licorice coulis of the Filet of “Never Never” Veal either, which I think should never never have been served. And neither of the 2 ways the rabbit prepared was very good, one of which looked like cheap Chinese takeout, and just barely tasted better.
The other thing about my meal at Twist was that too much was going on in a single order. My favourite dish of the night was the mushroom broth “zezette” made of chicken chiffonade and vegetable gnocchi. It was incredible. But it also came with a Kombawa Cod Cake and a Bloody Mary Sorbet, Ratatouille Bavaroise, neither of which I found particularly 1 or even 2 Star worthy or worked well in the ensemble. Yes I know people rave about Gagnaire and his juxtapositions, and more creative and intellectual approach to food, but I personally think the soup would have been good on its own. I also would have preferred a single solid rabbit and langoustine dish than a bunch of medicore ones. Pierre Gagnaire in Paris had a lot of dishes going on simultaneously too, but those actually all hit the spot.
If you compare the photos below to the photos at Robuchon, you’ll probably agree with me that Robucon is in a different category altogether. But perhaps I’m being unfair and overly critical of what would otherwise be a decent restaurant if I weren’t examining it through a Michelin 3 Star lens. Lots of restaurants market the names of star chefs without delivering the same quality as their main flagship restaurant, like Thomas Keller, Alain Ducasse, Gordon Ramsay, Daniel Boulud and Masa. Even Joel Robuchon’s L’Ateliers aren’t the same caliber as the proper Michelin 3 starred Robuchons.
Overall, if I take off the Michelin 3 Star examination lens, Twist was ok. What really saved Twist for me was the sommelier Julie Lin, who had some off-the-beaten track recommendations and pairings that salvaged a lot of the dishes for me. But with the 3 Star lens back on, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire isn’t its Paris equivalent, and I’m sure if the Michelin Guide were still in Vegas wouldn’t be giving Twist 3 Stars.
P.S. The first photo above is actually the signature drink from the Mandarin Bar at the Mandarin Oriental. Have to say, I’m a fan.