My hubby surprised me on our 3-year wedding anniversary by planning a dinner at Manresa. This was our first full-course tasting with wine pairing in a Michelin 3-star restaurant**.  A normal chef’s tasting menu (~15 courses) was for $275/person with a beverage pairing for $220/person. This place is tucked inside Village Lane in Los Gatos, but not too hard to find.

They had the tastiest amuse bouche, and mind-blowing beverage pairings. Since I am slightly allergic to white wines I chose a red wine pairing while my hubby went with the sommelier’s recommended pairing. The tasting menu at Manresa features an explosion of flavors while their wine list, distinctive and individual wines from the great classic regions. Our menu was the “Winter Garden”.  We spent close of 4 hours in the restaurant (7pm – 11 pm).

** Michelin stars are a rating system used by the red Michelin Guide to grade restaurants on their quality.  According to Jean-Luc Naret, the Director of the “Guide Michelin” 

  • One Star: With one star, you’ve one of the best restaurants in your category. A very good restaurant in its category
  • Two Stars:  Two stars mean this restaurant is worth traveling for.  A nationwide clientele. Excellent cooking, worth a detour 
  • Three Stars: Three stars makes your restaurant truly exceptional. Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey

Into the Courses…

Amuse-bouche

It consisted of 4 courses  rightly called the “Petit fours

1. Red pepper jelly and black olive madeleines – Savory jelly and madeleine, something unexpected by the way these looked.

Looking at these you would expect a strawberry jelly and a french madeleine, but instead they were spicy and tangy.

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

2. Granola and goat cheese crisp – 2 hearty granola crackers filled with mild goat cheese.

The goat cheese was creamy yet mild to not overpowering the subtle granola flavor. Served in a box filled with cereals.

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

3. Iced oyster and radish – Fanny Bay oysters with crème fraîche and shaved radish.

Being an old fan of oyster shooters I found the dash of crème fraîche to be refreshing. The plating was interesting in a oyster shaped dish.

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

4. Caviar and yuzu blini – Sweet potato blini with caviar, and Kombu and shiro dash gel.

It was a flavor bomb simply out as “ocean in a spoon”, loved the different textures.  I would definitely call this one as a my favorite.

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

Breads

They had a choice of 3 breads from their very own Manresa breads, right next door

5. Whole wheat, Brioche & Signature sourdough –  My favorite was the brioche and their signature sourdough. I personally like my bread hot hence was a little disappointed when these were served cold.

The bread, soft butter got the conversation flowing, and we were all set to start with the wine 🙂

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

Main courses with wines

The main part of the meal consisted of 5 courses with a wide variety of meats – excellent both in presentation and taste.

6. Crab and citrus panna cotta, fennel – Yusu panna cotta with blood orange gel, Dungeness crab and shaved fennel.

White Wine: Donnhoff, Riesling “Dellchen- Grobes Gewächs” 2015

Red Wine: Michel Gros, Chamoile-Musigny 2008

The panna cotta seemed low on flavor by itself, the blood orange get was bitter by itself and the fennel was pungent by itself. But the marriage of all the ingredients together was wonderful in a tiny red box.

7. Into the vegetable garden – Grilled romaine with beurre blanc sauce and 20 different kinds of edible flowers.

Beer Pairing: Saison Bernice, Santé Adairus Rustic Ales, locally from Capitola

It seemed odd to include a sour beer in a wine pairing, but the flavor combination was fantastic. A sip of the sour beer after a salty bite of salad created an exquisite combination, that complemented each other so well.

8. Abalone meunière, potato mousseline – Monterey Bay abalone with potato mousseline and vermouth foam.

White Wine: Lavantureux, Chablis “Vaudesir” 2014

Red Wine: le Ragnaie, Brunetto di Montalcino 2012

This dish was my least favorite as I am not a fan of snails or escargots for that matter. Abalone are marine snail. I thought the dish fell flat due to the lack of texture. The vermouth foam did not add any flavor as the potato mousseline was overpowering. The red wine was interesting.

9. Bouillabaisse, squid tortellini – Bouillabaisse with scallops, basil pesto lobster, grilled cheese, andouille squid tortellini with soup made from saffron, lemon zest and dried scallops. The vegetables consisted of carrots, potato and kohlrabi.

Red Wine: Rhys, Pinot Noir, “Family Farm” 2014

White Wine: Marques de Murrieta, Rioja “Capellanía” 2012

Hands down the best scallops I’ve ever tasted in my life.  The tortellini was flavorful not too much pork flavor. The cheese was subtle lobster was delicate. The plating was interesting and soup was packed with flavors.

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

10. Slow Roasted Squab in “mole” – Dry-aged and slow-roasted squab, mole sauce, roasted beets,  toasted almonds. Squab legs in bacon confit sauce.

Red Wine: Chambeyron-Manin, Cote-Rotie 2014

I had mixed feelings a lot this dish as I was not very impressed with the plating and the squab legs with nails looked scary in the first sight. However the first bite totally changed my opinion. The dry-aged squab was a little gamy, the beets were quiet peppery and mole was sweet, but all together worked harmoniously.

11. Beef with prunes in black tea – Veal with endives and potato, prune puree with Cocoa, and loads of shaved black truffles. (This was the first time I’ve ever had black truffles in my life)

Red Wine: Mount Eden, Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate”, Santa Cruz 2007

As this was my first time tasting veal I was totally loved the tiny steak. Did not care much for the endives and potato but the prune puree was to die for. The truffles added a special earthiness to this dish.

Dessert

12. Grapefruit, coconut and cashew – Grapefruit sorbet with coconut creme and salted cashews.

The combination of the tart sorbet with sweet cream and salty cashews  worked in complete harmony.

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

 

13. Apple, caramel, and buckwheat – Granny smith apple poached in resiling, dulce de leche shortbread, buckwheat ice cream, apple caramel hot sauce.

Dessert Wine: Bodegas Tradición, Cream Sherry VOS

Tasted like a deconstructed tastiest apple pie I’ve tasted. The sauces were great. The sherry was a delicious, lightly sweet yet complex, balanced and poised, distinguished old cream from Bodegas Tradición.

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

 

14. Anniversary special chocolate cake – yummy complimentary chocolate cake.

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

 

Petit fours “strawberry-chocolate” –  We had déjà vu when we saw them bring this over. It looked identical to the first course, but with a very different flavor profile. I loved the bookend-style meal, ending with the same note as the beginning.

 

15. Strawberry jelly with chocolate madeleines.

This tasted exactly what I expected the amouse bouche to taste like.

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

 

16. Macarons – Coconut, pink peppercorn and black sesame.

  • Coconut cream macaroon with toasted coconuts were a little too sweet for my taste and tasted like something I’ve had before.
  • Pink peppercorn  macaroon was interesting as it had all the flavors of the peppercorn but for the spicy note. With very bite i was expecting the spiciness to hit  my throat but instead it was still sweet. Very interesting.
  • Black sesame was nostalgic as sesame is a main ingredient in many south indian dishes.

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

 

17. Truffles – coconut truffles, chocolate caramel truffle.

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

Overall, a great experience and one of my top favorite restaurants. Thank you Manresa & David Kinch for making our anniversary memorable and delicious!  We even got goodies for  next day’s breakfast and printed customized menu with the wine pairing we had this evening.

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-1,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

 

I would highly recommend this place to celebrate a special occasion with your loved ones. Overall an amazing meal, totally worthy of its 3 Michelin stars!!

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