Manresa (Los Gatos, CA) – Yes, Again
My high-end-dining friend was in town – his first visit to manresa was a “B+”. Not bad considering how discrimating he can be, but now that we have the “in”, certainly it was possible to raise the grade a notch.
Overall, excellent. Everyone had their own favorites but the table agreed it was at least a “solid A” meal. I will go further and say Manresa should be in anyone’s Top 5 US list. Nothing in “the city” can touch it; and while I will give it another whirl, I still think French Laundry needs to play catch-up.
New Items of Note
1. Bluefin tete du fromage
Tuna head done 3 ways – I’ve been waiting a few months for this head to arrive, the 3 pieces included the meat behind the eye socket, some scraped from its neck topped w/ some of its own marrow, and a cheek – all cooked to varying degrees. This was the most interesting course of the night thanks to the unique ingredient. The eye socket was very fatty and caramleized. Iliked the neck w/ marrow best (although i forget the tastes). Note: you probably won’t get this since it’s, apparently, near impossible to procure.
2. Arctic Surf Clam w/ Wild Onion Consomme
I’m not a clam fan but this dish approached sublime. The clams has the perfect consistency (for me, not too chewy) and the consomme was near sublime – very ephemeral taste.
3. Gizzard Shad w/ cherry blossom leaves
Direct from Japan – very nice piece of fish w/ the aromatic cherry blossom leaves.
4. Pig’s Trotters wrapped in Milk Skin
He can do dairy – I haven’t eaten too many trotters but this had a great satisfying texture for the near-end of the meal. The milk skin was very delicate & delicious – a variation on the prawn row covered in milk skin.
5. Braised Kid Goat w/ exotic Indian spices
Don’t remember too much, pretty good, not great, I was probably getting a bit full.
And the Full Menu:
1. Petit fours
2. Sea Urchin shooter – this wasn’t working for us
3. Chestnut & Foie Gras croquettes – divine as usual
4. Oyster in urchin jelly – perfect
5. Needle fish w/ bacon & shiso (fried) – excellent
6. Turnip-brioche & Foie Gras Royale – perfect
7. Warm oyster w/ apple, coulommier – excellent’
8. Arpege egg – everyone’s slightly overcooked
9. Mesquite-grilled Foie w/ calamondin caramel – sublime
10. Bluefin tete du fromage – see above – excellent
11. Golden Butterfish w/ *Just Pressed* Olive Oil – excellent, particularly the oil
12. Assorted spring fish w/ dried sardine concomme – marked improvement over my last meal
13. Beet & Mackerel Gazpacho, caviar – this one didn’t work
14. Arctic surf clam, wild onion consomme – see above – perfect
15. Gizzard Shad w/ cherry blossom leaves – see above – excellent
16. Scallop & its tripe w/ black truffles – my absolute favorite manresa dish – but no one else shared my enthusiasm
17. Horse Mackerel on the plancha – fish excellent
18. Abalone meuniere-style w/ pig’s trotters – excellent
19. Braised Kid Goat w/ exotic Indian spieces – good
20. Beef roasted in its own fat – excellent
+ 2 desserts + ending petit fours
I think manresa is one of the best:
- ridiculously consistent – 20 dishes & only 1-2 disappointments multiplied over 7-8 meals
- less is more mentality – each dish has just a few ingredients that work very well together
- the ingredients are respected but the dishes are still ‘exciting’ & different
- fish – personal preference, but the focus (for my meals anyways) on very fresh fish & shellfish
and most important – range. i was thinking of the perfect Manresa meal – what would be the absolute best menu?
- 30-40 different amuses, minibar style, where everything hits?
- 10-15 different ‘fruit cocktails’ w/ their bursts of flavor & temperature?
- 10-15 different raw fish courses?
- 5-8 more traditional courses (foie, chicken, beef)
Seasonality might prevent the menus above in some cases, but he could put together any of them and it would be among the best meals of the year. I suppose I will just have to stick w/ my 20-course affairs.