Manresa in Los Gatos is by far the most amazing farm-to-table restaurants I have been to. We had Manresa on our list of restaurants to go to for quite some time. A few months back we managed to get a reservation to celebrate our wedding anniversary by trying out Chef David Kinch’s tasting menu. Manresa and Chef Kinch are famous for using fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients and converting them to dishes that explode with flavor and leave you asking for more. Manresa gets its produce from Love Apple Farms near Santa Cruz.
Expectations were sky-high ever since I found out that Manresa had made it to the list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2012. We were seated promptly upon arrival. The ambiance makes you feel warm, cozy and welcoming. We were served warm freshly baked bread soon after we were seated. As usual, I opted for the vegetarian tasting menu, but when our server found out that my hubster (M) does not eat red meat, but is fine with other forms of meat, they offered to create a pescatarian menu for him. We’ve been to quite a few fancy places, but no restaurant had offered such an option to us earlier. It was a first and M was delighted to get a chance to try out his first pescatarian tasting menu. I have to state that the staff at Manresa make it a point to make your experience personable and pleasant.
Amuse Bouche was black olive madeleine and roasted bell pepper jello cube. I liked how it was served on a slab of stone. Following the amuse bouche we were served garden beignets with crispy kale. The garden beignets were made with goat cheese and the kale leaves went well with that. Next on the table was chilled lavender lemonade with mint – super refreshing. I slowly sipped on it feeling like a child trying to save her favorite part of the meal so that it wouldn’t get over fast. But I knew there were plenty more of such plates coming up 😀
M was served smoked salmon with wasabi and green apple while I was served braised chestnut with avocado paste. The chestnut dish was my favorite of the entire meal. Next on the list were nantucket Bay Scallops in brown butter with chestnuts and a dish made out of green tomatoes. They used a specific name for it, but I forgot since I was busy relishing the chestnuts from my earlier course :). All I remember is that it was tangy and had crispy bites to cut off the tangy-ness. Next pescatarian item on the list were clams with sesame seeds and shiitake mushrooms while the vegetarian item on the list was sunchoke soup with yolk. The soup was my second favorite item on the menu. The flavors blended extremely well with each other.
Our next course was the super famous “Into the garden salad”. I felt like there were 20+ ingredients all from Manresa’s kitchen garden in this dish. I was overwhelmed by the amazing concept of the dish. After the salad, M was served North American fluke sashimi with chamomile while I was served a pumpkin dish with porcini mushroom and garlic emulsion. Next entree was a dish with smoked persimmon, cilantro and yogurt. I love persimmons but this was my least favorite dish of the meal. For our final savory entree, we had a plate of scallop and cod with potatoes for the hubby and a plate of cripy potatoes, foamy emulsions and nasturtium leaves. I did not know we nasturtium leaves are to be eaten. I have them in my patio garden and was surprised to see them on a plate and to find out that they are edible!
Our first dessert course was fromage blanc with strawberry sorbet and toasted pumpkin seeds. Rich, creamy and delicious. For our second dessert course, we had a parfait with almonds, pear sorbet and poached pear pieces. Our final dessert course was a chocolate madeleine with a cube of strawberry jelly served on a stone slab. I loved the fact that the first course (amuse bouche) and last course (final dessert course) of the menu were identical in looks but very different in taste – Creative and classy!
Post our remarkable celebratory meal, we were a given a pumpkin brioche for next day’s breakfast. I was expecting a goodie for breakfast next day since this is a tradition at most Michelin-star restaurants. When we were leaving through the door, they offered us fleur de sel caramels. I just took one but they saw me hesitating and told me that they were going to be closed for the next couple of days for Thanksgiving so we should take as many as we wanted. When I tasted the caramel candy the next day, I felt I should have taken many more of those :P. The meal at Manresa has been one of the best meals I have had this year and I guess the Chef deserves a big big thank you for making our day even more special and memorable. I would surely like to go back for another meal at Manresa 🙂