Fine dining Macau – Robuchon au Dome
About an hour by ferry from Hong Kong, Macau is a mecca for gamblers which, depending on your predilections, is a good or a bad thing. It’s hard to get away from the constant enticements to head to one casino or another.
Indeed, when you arrive at the Outer Harbour ferry terminal (there’s another called Taipa), from the moment you set foot on dry land, there’s someone trying to take you somewhere – all part of the mission to part you from as much of your hard-earned cash as possible.
But we were investigating fine dining Macau style and had Robuchon au Dome in our sights, which has three Michelin stars. Pretty much everything famed French chef Joel Robuchon lends his name to seems to immediately be awarded Michelin honours, but I digress.
Robuchon au Dome is in the Grand Lisboa hotel. Macau’s heritage as a Portuguese colony is more than evident here, with the street signs in that language as well as Chinese. Macau (or Macao if you prefer) isn’t the biggest place, occupying around 30 square kilometres. Like Hong Kong it’s a ‘Special Administrative Region’ of China and, for a great many nationalities, doesn’t require a visa to enter.
It is, however, chock-full of casinos and, on a recent Friday, we’d been warned that the ferries and hydrofoils going across from Hong Kong would be full of people hoping to get lucky at the tables. We, of course, were hoping to get lucky at a very different type of table.
The exit from the Outer Harbour ferry terminal is very confusing. We were planning to take what looked like a short walk to get a coffee nearby but the standard of footpaths and signposting from the terminal is very poor. Still, we worked it out, swatting away the various tour and casino touts who buzzed around us and headed into the downtown area.
The Grand Lisboa itself is a very distinctive building and easy to spot from the terminal. At ground level, however, it was hard to get a clear view of the direction to walk. Ne’er mind. We found a great double espresso and piccolo at Rethink Coffee Roasters and they also had wi-fi so we could check our way. Most of the major hotels also offer complimentary shuttle buses to and from the ferry. We made a note of that for our return journey.
There’s an old style building at ground level proclaiming Grand Lisboa but one needs to walk through that to get to the, well, pineapple-shaped tower behind it. Indeed, there’s what looks like a pineapple motif on signage to draw you through to where you need to be.
Nothing in Macau looks particularly understated. It’s certainly one of the world’s great consumers of crystal which seems to hang everywhere. With a couple of missed turns, we found ourselves in the right building and proceeded to take two elevators to get to the restaurant which is housed in a glass dome on top.
On a clement day, it would be quite a spectacular view. This one, however, was drizzly and grey. Greedy Girl, not a lover of heights, was somewhat relieved to not be able to see terribly clearly from our table next to the floor-to-ceiling glass.
The dome of the building is shaped not unlike the famed ‘Gherkin’ in central London. It’s kitted out in luxe style with plush upholstery, olde worlde paintings and, of course, a huge central crystal chandelier.
For lunch, there are a number of set menus available. Greedy Girl was hot to trot for the menu that included two main courses, but gluttonous husband reeled her in. We settled on the Menu Plaisir for M$788, consisting of an amuse bouche, entree, soup, main course, cheese or dessert and coffee plus petits fours.
Greedy Girl was handed an iPad to choose some wine. It became obvious later why they offered the list on iPad when the actual wine list was shown to another diner. And here it is …
Not only are there around 14,000 producers included here, the list features some staggeringly expensive bottles. We decided to take a basic bottle of Veuve Clicquot which worked out to be about A$120. Done.
Our amuse bouche arrived not long after the champagne which Greedy Girl is delighted to report was actually cold and the sommelier poured only small glasses so it wouldn’t warm up. This was music to our ears, having to guard against staff filling our champagne flutes to the brim.
Before us was a cold cauliflower ‘cream’ with a quail egg tempura, caviar and drizzled with virgin olive oil. The soup was beautifully smooth and the quail egg still runny inside, masterfully cooked. There wasn’t a huge salty pop from the caviar though. Still, an enjoyable start.
We were then presented with a selection from the bread trolley, any of which could be replenished at our request. It looked most attractive. Greedy Girl helped herself to some brioche and, later, a baguette studded with bacon. Delish.
Our starters were next. The menu offered a number of choices for each course and given we’ve dined at a lot of Robuchon restaurants around the world, many of the dishes were quite familar. We decided to try some we’d not experienced before.
Greedy Girl had the incredibly pretty Le Crabe – crab meat and avocado cannelloni, served with what they called ‘citrus and a vanilla condiment’. It was very delicate, beautifully flavoured and a wonderfully light way to begin.
Gluttonous husband chose another delicate-looking plate, Le Haricot Vert. This was a green bean and egg mimosa (apparently a fancy-schmancy way of saying chopped up) salad with shavings of lightly-smoked foie gras. It was another very good plate of food. The smoked foie gras was particularly good and the crunch from the green beans a welcome texture.
It was time for the soup course. Greedy Girl took La Crevette, a bonito broth with shrimp (prawns) and fresh ginger. Happily the ginger wasn’t overpowering and the broth was deep and full of flavour. The prawns were cooked perfectly.
Gluttonous husband took the other soup option, Le Petit Pois. This was a green pea veloute with spring onion marmalade and fresh mint. The colour of the veloute was delightful and gluttonous husband loved the combination of peas and mint.
It was time for our main courses. Greedy Girl took the dish pictured at the top of this post, Le Canard – foie gras and Challans duck breast, served with cherry compote and fresh almonds. It was a spectacular looking plate of food and while Greedy Girl admits the duck looked very rare, it was absolutely superb. The combination of the foie gras with the duck breast was utterly sublime. If she had a quibble it would be that the cherries didn’t offer the expected sweetness.
Gluttonous husband opted for one of his favourite dishes – bouillabaise. The dish was called L’Amadai – which equates to ‘Tile Fish’. It’s a firm, white and meaty fish. Gluttonous husband had started to feel unwell by this point, suffering terribly from a flu but even though the hearty broth was packed with flavour, he couldn’t take more than a spoon of this dish. He didn’t particularly like the fish, saying it had an odd texture. While Greedy Girl sampled some of the dish, it was too strong for her. Pity.
We were both also given dishes of one of Robuchon’s staple dishes – an incredibly soft, creamy and smooth mashed potato, again with the offer of having it replenished if we’d like.
It was time for the dessert and cheese trolleys. Gluttonous husband was feeling seriously poorly. Not even the sight of so many amazing varieties could tempt him and he opted for a very small serving of Comte.
Greedy Girl delighted in the dessert trolley.
She opted for what she thought were two chocolate options and a lemon meringue tart. The profiteroles were decadent bliss, full of a dark chocolate custard. The lemon tart was just about perfect. The tartness/sweetness was balanced, the pastry crisp and the meringue light and fluffy. But what Greedy Girl thought was a chocolate tart turned out to be caramel. It was a step too far. Too sweet, too sticky.
With gluttonous husband fading, he ordered a Jasmine tea while Greedy Girl enjoyed a very good double espresso and scoffed the petits fours – some freshly baked citrus madeleines. Delightful.
And we were done. On departing the restaurant manager graciously offered his card and asked us to contact him personally if we wanted to return. At that moment, however, we were just focused on getting gluttonous husband back to Hong Kong in one piece.
This is a very good restaurant with excellent service and a dramatic outlook. Greedy Girl isn’t sure if there are other fine dining options in Macau but figures it’s certainly worth looking at for a subsequent visit.
Robuchon au Dome
Grand Lisboa Hotel, Macau