Both my father and I have dined at almost every fine dining restaurant in the Bay Area so I had to chose a place we hadn’t been before for his 65th birthday!
Manresa, a three Michelin starred restaurant, is located in the quaint town of Los Gatos. It’s been on my list for quite some time now especially since chef David Kinch is one of our contributing chefs at In Situ (his dish hasn’t gone on our menu yet). The tasting menu ($255 per person) reflects contemporary American cuisine focusing on seasonality and local ingredients. We didn’t chose to do the wine pairing since my father brought two bottles of wine for the four of us to share.
My father wanted to compare a 1989 Chateau Margaux to a 1990 Chateau Margaux.
The first few bites looked like petit fours, typically something that you would have at the end of the meal, but these were actually savory. Kind of a mind fuck but super intriguing. I especially liked the bell pepper pâte de fruit and the black olive mandelines.
Succulent pieces of raw scallop were enveloped in a sweet leek shell with a chili lime seasoning on top and thin strands of perfumed kaffir lime leaves.
These oysters were exquisite. Creamy briny oysters were swimming in a warm bonito butter with a dollop of tangy crème fraîche and pops of salty sturgeon caviar. I could easily eat a dozen of these.
While this dish looked superb, the yuzu flavor was overpowering to the point where that’s all I really tasted. The sweet pieces of beautiful Dungeness crab slightly got lost.
This was one of my favorite dishes of the night. On the bottom of the plate were seasoned rye breadcrumbs with capers, parsley purée, and smoked egg. On top of this crunchy mixture were first of the season asparagus, tart meyer lemon sauce, and a perfectly cooked tender spot prawn. Really delicious.
A gorgeous presentation of beautiful fresh, raw, and fermented vegetables from the garden lay underneath feuille de brik (thin crispy dough) with various herbs.
Without a doubt, this cold noodle dish was Japanese inspired. The homemade soba (buckwheat) noodles had a nice chew to them and were topped with slices of alabone, creamy Hokkaido uni, and silky sea lettuces on the side. Umami at its finest.
Any type of dumpling is right up my alley. These agnolotti were stuffed with slightly spicy chorizo accompanied by tender squid tentacles, juicy citrus segments, and a thin laced squid ink tuille.
While the classic pairing of duck and orange might be slightly boring, the duck breast was cooked to perfection. Melt in your mouth tender meat with a beautiful browned crispy skin. Underneath was braised endive, slightly charred, with slivers of citrus. Simple yet well executed.
A true homage to various mushrooms. Of course the best part were the morel mushrooms stuffed with a chicken and foie gras mousse that was silky smooth.
Unfortunately the last savory course was my least favorite dish of the night. Typically I enjoy lamb but for some reason this was slightly off putting. The lamb itself was maybe too undercooked for my liking and was overly gamy. However, the sweetbread on the side was nicely cooked with a lacquered sauce and the raw cauliflower salad was bright and refreshing.
A great palate cleanser with silky creamy salted butter ice cream (amazing) with a slight punch from the limoncello and crunchiness from the puffed quinoa.
The menthol meringue was a pretty cool and cooling aspect of this dessert. The cake on the bottom was moist and the coconut sorbet was extremely refreshing.
A chocolate lover’s dream with chocolate cake and chocolate mousse. The meyer lemon helped cut through the richness of the dessert.
My favorite dessert by far. Inside the canelé was a prune jam of sorts with armagnac (type of brandy) and ice cream on the side. Beautifully presented and tasty.
Of course no meal would be complete without petit fours and this time, these were sweet.
Manresa is worthy of three Michelin stars as creating such an intensive menu is no easy task. Was it the best meal I’ve ever had? No. While I understand the cuisine is modern American, some of the dishes lacked the excitement and awe that I was expecting from a restaurant of this caliber. Perhaps since I’ve dined at numerous fine dining contemporary American and European restaurants, this type of cuisine doesn’t amaze me as my meal at Benu did. Therefore, my overall rating is an 8/10.