2015's Top 20 Restaurants: Robuchon au Dôme
Could this be the most beautiful dining room in Macau? Robuchon au Dôme, hosted on the 43rd floor of the elaborate Grand Lisboa, is a gleaming paragon of pulchritude, all crystal and gold set in a way that stops short of the overly ostentatious. The “dome” is the circular room set at the apex of the casino hotel, and the effect is that we half-expect the view to rotate as we dine. The restaurant, of course, stays still so that we have the sweeping north-facing vista of Macau to feed our eyes between courses.
Joël Robuchon’s Macau outpost originally opened at Hotel Lisboa in 2001 as Robuchon a Galera, before moving to its current location and undergoing a name change 10 years later. We can’t imagine a better setting for the culinary fancies of chef Francky Semblat, who carries out the vision of Robuchon with precision and poise. Stepping into the dining room following two separate lift journeys – in between the two, you’ll float past the restaurant’s legendary wine cellar – you’re met with a dramatic crystal chandelier that soars high above a grand piano, and a view of the restaurant’s signature bread and dessert trolleys.
Yes, everything here is classic Robuchon, and every detail acutely designed to emphasise that feeling of grandeur. The floor staff are trained in the art of French savoir-faire, and introduce each diner to this milk-and-honey world with efficiency and warmth. (It’s worth noting, too, that each staff member’s lapel carries a country flag denoting the languages they speak.) Like their sister team in Hong Kong, staff are well versed in the intricacies of the wine tome – an unparalleled resource – and make several well-judged recommendations based on our preferences and food selections.
Fans familiar with Robuchon will find comfort in the menu, which offers many of the chef’s greatest hits. Yet when combined with the extraordinary setting, the visual impact of the plate seems amplified. This year, we were most impressed by the treatment given to a number of seafood dishes, a testament to the kitchen’s deft hand. An appetiser titled Les Saveurs Iodées presents the best of the sea in a small and elegant triptych: abalone and baby artichokes (their toothsome textures in verisimilitude) with a parsley foam, sea urchin cream in a delicate wasabi emulsion, and sweet battered prawns with a citrus dipping sauce. Then there’s the famous L’Amadaï, a riot of textures; the crisp fish scales contrast with the tender baby artichokes, and the black truffle coulis is an indulgent accompaniment to the mild-tasting fish.
Try as we may, it’s always difficult to resist the dessert trolley when it ambles over – the perfect choux pastries, the golden rum baba, the light-as-clouds île flottante often conspire against our waistlines. But as we tell ourselves: if you find yourself all the way out here, up in the air in this most stunning of restaurants, never leave with any regrets.
[Editor's note: Robuchon au Dôme also won the award for Best Wine List in the 2015 Hong Kong Tatler Best Restaurants guide]