There is an old saying: anticipation is half the pleasure; this sometimes applies to food as well. There are times when I look forward to a meal so much that I envision the whole experience days before. Of course if anticipation really is half the pleasure, then that meal is not very pleasurable, unless you have the imagination of say, a surrealism artist. Anyhow, I had been looking forward to lunch at Robuchon au Dôme ever since it opened at the Grand Lisboa Hotel last year but never got the chance to go. Until last weekend.
The last time I went to Robuchon in Macau, it was still known as Robuchon a Galare back at Hotel Lisboa. Coming out of the lift on the 43/F, the interior is strikingly different. Sunlight floods the dining room where a breathtaking crystal light chandelier cascades from the middle of the ceiling. There is a bit of gold everywhere - think Versace - and the thick carpet and sturdy armchairs exude decadence.
As the name suggests, the dome-shaped space provides a view of Macau for every table, except in the private dining room, which is situated in the middle of the restaurant. The grand piano is not only there for display; we enjoyed soothing live music throughout our lunch.
To start we were offered the magnificent bread selection. While I drooled over the comte bread, I was also eying the mini-baguette with mustard and bacon. The two butters - salted and unsalted - were icing on the cake.
The amuse bouche of the day were cold coriander soup on fresh tomato sauce with cous cous roll and crispy tuile. Being a coriander lover, the soup was a refreshing way to prep the palate.
The starter is a classic Robuchon - lightly smoked foie gras shaved on warm potatoes salad with black truffle dressing. It is a variation of the famous foie gras dish and this is my top choice. Despite the richness of the foie gras, the dish remained decidedly light and delicate. The foie gras is ever so slightly smoked and acted like butter on the potato discs. The flower petals gave this a spring touch.
April is the prime month for white asparagus and it appeared on the menu as a bouillon. Paired with sea urchin royale (essentially fresh sea urchin mixed with sea urchin paste, eggs and cream), the natural sweetness of the white asparagus is apparent, at the same time allowing the taste of the ocean from the sea urchin to show through.
Next comes the black cod in watercress broth. The cod is slow-cooked in oil so that the flesh is silky smooth and has that melt-in-your-mouth texture. The clear watercress broth complements the richness of the cod by adding its distinctive aroma. The salmon roes also play a vital role; the orange pearls explode and the pungent liquid infuses the cod with a fishy taste that makes your taste bud jump.
The main course was caramelised quail stuffed with foie gras and mashed potatoes. It was not the first time I had the quail but I order it every time because it love it so much. And not just the quail. The mashed potato must be the richest and most buttery version out there and is like a dream. The quail pieces have this beautiful colour on the outside and the meat is still moist and tender. The foie gras stuffed inside helped. This is a flawless dish.
Before dessert, we were served a pre-dessert of rose velvet with wild strawberry mousse flavoured with litchi. The exquisite pink from the wild strawberries converted the non-dessert lover in me. The light-as-air dessert is perfect for spring.
At long last, the dessert cart was rolled to our table just when we thought we were full. Just like the bread cart, it featured an amazing selection of desserts. I opted for some fruit salad and the poached pineapple in cinnamon syrup, but even I could not resist the mille feuille.
The pastry was light and crisp, with the different layers held together by the custard cream. Heavenly! Just like the caramelised quail, I couldn't get enough of this.
Another outstanding dessert was the floating island. Individual portions are prepared in the kitchen. Unlike other interpretations of this dessert, it is not overly sweet.
It was a marvelous lunch. The service was attentive without being intrusive, and the pace at which the dishes were served was faultless. The food was simply amazing. I cannot wait to come back again.