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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Garden veloute w/ mustard – same dish as the least meal but the presentation has been improved.
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.
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.
Courgette and tomato salad, assorted basils – more vegetables.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Red fruit & pistachio sable, raspberry and rosewater sorbet – I will eat rosewater anything so this went down pleasingy.
Chocolate & ollalieberry pudding
Petit fours “strawberry-chocolate”