Manresa (Los Gatos, CA) – Summertime Report

Summertime at Manresa – the season I’ve been waiting for. The fish is not in season but the biodynamic garden is in full swing – tradeoffs. Many of the dishes were new with just a few being variations on previous themes. I didn’t take extensive notes but I’ve raved about the restaurant so much in the past that I will let the pictures of the food speak for themselves. Needless to say, I never leave hungry nor disappointed.

The full menu is presented below with some commentary. New dishes were photographed; if a photo is missing, it’s an old dish and/or the photo did not turn out.

Refined Palate had the same menu one day earlier – read their review.

Petit Fours “red pepper – black olive” - the traditional beginning.

Vegetables from the garden – another tradition that has begun.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - Vegetables from the garden

Sorrel & Olive oil ice – a great bridge between the first two amuses. The ice/granita/consumme/gelee amuse is always one of my favorites of a Manresa meal. They are always cleansing and refreshing – they wipe the slate clean yet provide hints of the surprises to be. Intense flavor is always a trademark. They also remind me of the late, great Bastide – his Deconstruction of Bloody Mary, various “Cevhiches”, or Ceasar Salad Bastide. Ludo, please find a home – fast!
Manresa (Los Gatos) = Sorrel & Olive oil ice

Amaranth & Borage Barbajuana

Eggplant with smoked miso - Another amuse tradition – the hot puree/soup where the spoon is dipped through the layers. This one had a mostly eggplant taste but there was a bright herbaceous finish at the last moment.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - Eggplant with smoked miso

Summer croquettes

Arpege farm egg - Although A Few Reservations did not have a good meal at Manresa, you can read her reaction to the egg – appropriate and typical.

Caviar consomme, Wild Amberjack belly – sashimi deconstructed, a luscious piece of fish with the caviar playing the salty role of soy sauce.
Manresa (Los Gatos) -

Shellfish w/ sausage, yerba buena – simple flavors and ingredients that captured that nuanced Manresa trademark for me – as Junglegirl said in the Let There Be Vegetables post, it’s alchemy. One plus one somehow equals four when Kinch composes these dishes.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - Shellfish w/ sausage, yerba buena

Garden veloute w/ mustard – same dish as the least meal but the presentation has been improved.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - Garden veloute w/ mustard

Spiced vegetables with brown butter – A dish with hints of L’Arpege’s carrots with chocolate and foam. This was good but I thought it could use a bit more kick.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - Spiced vegetables with brown butter

The vegetable garden – similar dish, different season, different vegetables, and different presentation. This one has taken on the dimension of height. Spices were used to add a new dimension.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - The vegetable garden

Courgette and tomato salad, assorted basils – more vegetables.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - Courgette and tomato salad, assorted basils

Golden purslane and tomato w/ smoked roe, roast tuna juice – This was very special – the roast tuna juice was subtle but nuanced; it added complexity to the taste.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - Golden purslane and tomato w/ smoked roe, roast tuna juice

Abalone and slow egg, sucrine lettuce and bread crusts

Black cod in calamari-anchovy broth, potato – Again, while the fish was pristine, it was the salty but subtle broth that gave the dish its character and dimension.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - Black cod in calamari-anchovy broth, potato

Carrots w/ beef tendon, seaweed pistou – This was a quiet conclusion to the savory courses. I’m not a fan of the tendon texture but, thinking back, it’s a contemplative dish. I’m not certain what umami tastes like but I assume this dish had it.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - Carrots w/ beef tendon, seaweed pistou

Squash blossom fritters & nasaturtium ice cream – An excellent dessert that bridged the gap between savory and sweet. Desserts are often far too sweet for my tastes but the squash blossom tied perfectly into the theme of the meal.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - Squash blossom fritters & nasaturtium ice cream

Red fruit & pistachio sable, raspberry and rosewater sorbet – I will eat rosewater anything so this went down pleasingy.
Manresa (Los Gatos) - Red fruit & pistachio sable, raspberry and rosewater sorbet

Chocolate & ollalieberry pudding

Manresa (Los Gatos) - Chocolate & ollalieberry pudding

Petit fours “strawberry-chocolate”

- chuck

  • Jenn

    I’m glad to hear it was good for you! Maybe on another night for me, some time. :)

  • ChuckEats

    Jenn, do you notice any overlap in dishes?

  • Dave Somerville

    Looks like a classic Manresa dinner.

    I went to the anniversary dinner on Bastille Day and it was nothing like this. Except for abalone, there were no shellfish, foie gras was absent, the marvelous vegetables hardly made an appearance at all, and the fish (monkfish) was dull. I can’t afford to blow that kind of money on a relatively mediocre meal.
    Also, every time I go to Manresa I end up sitting with my back to the entire restaurant. And I’ve concluded that I don’t really like Los Gatos very much…they should move the whole enterprise to Santa Cruz, a town with a soul but no outstanding food.

  • Paul

    I think the food looks so beautiful at Manresa, and Chuck you obviously like it there, because you talk about it all the time, in your blogs Lol, P.S in your opinion what would you say was the better restaurant food wise, Alinea or Manresa

  • ChuckEats

    Dave, I don’t do the special dinners – although I would give a L’Arpege / Manresa dinner another shot (although I do agree, it’s pricey.) I wish he’d move the restaurant to San Francisco :)

    Paul, Manresa is the best in the country – hands down. Alinea would probably make my top 5 or 6. Manresa is obsessive about ingredient quality (particularly fish & veggies) while Alinea is more obsessed about chemistry and technology. Manresa is minimalist while Alinea tends towards busy-ness. However, there’s no question – Alinea is a top-tier restaurant for the US – I’d give to 2 very solid Michelin stars.

  • Paul

    Just one more thing, i would like to know is, what type of camera do use to take these beautiful pictures that appear in your food blog, is it a cell phone camera? or just your standard hand held digital camera?

  • ChuckEats

    it’s a Fuji E900 – sometimes it works, sometimes not. i also photoshop the pictures to brighten them.