Monday, January 4, 2016

Manresa - Los Gatos

5/5 stars

I left Manresa exactly 3 hours ago so this review is hot off the press!

Manresa has been on my list since David Kinch beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America in 2009 (Battle: Cabbage!).

We arrived at 5:30 and were greeted warmly. I congratulated them on their re-opening before being seated in their lounge. It was smaller than I expected, but comfortable. I stuck with the cocktails menu even though I usually prefer ordering off-menu. The drinks were classic, but nothing special. I had a Lemon Zest, an Aviation, and a Santa Cruz 75. Before our first drinks arrived, our table was ready. It was in an intimate corner by the window. I liked my view of the restaurant.

Our main server was William and he was soft-spoken and unobtrusive.

The menu - The Winter Garden - was super interesting. You're pretty much shown just a list of ingredients. Everything that is in-season in the month of February. Ours included: abalone, alliums, urchin, and yuzu. William explained that Chef was going to use most of the ingredients listed.

Hubby ordered the premium wine tasting and everything paired so perfectly with the food. It was a real treat (especially the breathtaking Fantino, Barolo "Vecchie Vigne" 2001). The pairing compared to that of the French Laundry's. We also had a pear cider (Eric Bordelet, Poire "Authentique") with the cheese course that was so magical, I want to hoard many bottles for charcuterie at home. Btw, ORDER THE CHEESE COURSE. We got a cognac-soaked cheddar, a gouda, a brie, and a blue and they were all so fun.

We started with 4 amuse-bouches: savory black olive madeleines with red pepper gelées, granola crisps, a delicious green panisse with meyer lemon curd, and some seafood (some caviar, some urchin) with fermented plum (it was my least favorite dish of the evening).

Next, the bread course. So fragrant, so crisp, so amazing. We pretty much filled up on bread. If all bread was this good, man really could live on bread alone. Well, and salted butter.

Next, Chef's signature "Into the Garden" which Did Not Disappoint. Underneath the perfect, beautiful vegetables were these "raviolis" that really stole the show. My favorite thing about Manresa was that almost every course outshined the one before it. Next, we had a sweet turnip consommé with crab and chrysanthemum that we declared our favorite dish until we got to scallop and carrot with flowering coriander. It was served with a chicharrón made out of scallop! But then we had the black cod and clams with celeriac and cabbage (Battle: Cabbage!). THAT was definitely the dish of the night. It was the best effing cabbage I've ever eaten. It's probably the best cabbage I will ever eat. It was both fried into a chip and steamed and used as a "wrapper" for a black cod. It was served with a delightful red cabbage relish.

Not to be forgotten was the beef bowl with buckwheat and smoked lentil. I *think* this was the first time I've had wagyu in the U.S. and... now I know what the fuss is all about. The lentils, while pleasant, got in the way. Just give me the wagyu, baby.

To our delight, the meal came full circle. After dessert, we were again served madeleines and gelées, but this time, they were sweet (chocolate madeleines and strawberry gelées).

I feel like Manresa was just as magnificent as the other Michelin-starred restaurants we've been to. I have no doubt that they'll receive their 3rd star someday soon.


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