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Manresa Restaurant, Los Gatos


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One of the people I'm going with next week is a vegetarian, I'll be really interested to see what they do for her.

I took my vegetarian daughter to Manresa for the tasting menu, spoke with Chef Kinch beforehand, and we were quite impressed with his selection of items which were good for a vegetarian, and for me who eats all manner of things ... very creative man!! It was terrific!

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I was also at the Manresa dinner for 14 with Pim and the Melkors. I can attest to the fact that Kinch does well providing for those with food "fetishes". My beloved Judge eats neither seafood nor cheese! :angry: Naturally, he missed a few courses but just when he was getting very frustrated, he was served a beautiful prime filet mignon with mashers and spinach. What a consolation prize!

Given that several people at the dinner had special food requirements, I think over 30 different preparations were served. I am very impressed by Manresa and Chef Kinch. I will long remember the dinner and plan to return soon. I guess that makes me a sycophant but what the hell, so be it. :wink:


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My goodness, what fantastic menus! To think that so many if not all of those dishes were big hits is amazing. After having eaten at Per Se, I am actually more interested in eventually visiting Manresa than I am French Laundry.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I wasn't thinking so much of the recognition as much as, was your meal "typical" of what I might expect to experience if I went there w/ my husband? We've talked about this on the general board before-is there such a thing as a "VIP meal," or is the quality of the cooking the quality of the cooking, period? In your case, with 14 people eating different meals, I'm wondering if that was hard enough for the chef that some of the courses may have suffered, no matter who you were.

It is truly amazing to me that he could serve this meal to all of you, cook for I.R., not to mention our very own tanabutler, and who ever else was in the restaurant at the time.

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I wasn't thinking so much of the recognition as much as, was your meal "typical" of what I might expect to experience if I went there w/ my husband? We've talked about this on the general board before-is there such a thing as a "VIP meal," or is the quality of the cooking the quality of the cooking, period? In your case, with 14 people eating different meals, I'm wondering if that was hard enough for the chef that some of the courses may have suffered, no matter who you were.

It is truly amazing to me that he could serve this meal to all of you, cook for I.R., not to mention our very own tanabutler, and who ever else was in the restaurant at the time.

From the other reports I've seen on this thread, everyone who orders the tasting menu gets a large number of courses and seems to enjoy the majority of them. Perhaps we were able to enjoy a few special dishes, such as the confit of pork shoulder, that were made just for us. As far as the different meals we were eating goes, the table ended up as 10 people eating the same menu, the Judge eating his own menu, and a menu with a few substitutions for MsMelkor and myself. IR was apparently unannounced, and Tanabutler said earlier she decided against going that night.

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Ever since Bong posted the first review of Manresa on this thread back in May, I’ve been meaning to make it down to Los Gatos and check out the restaurant. The high course count format had me intrigued from the start. However, as the absolutely fanatical reviews have been flowing in over the course of the year, I became a little perplexed. Was Manresa really an innovative bastion for fine dining in the bay area? From my perspective, some of the glowing praise wasn’t matching up with what I was seeing from the pictures. Was there something magical about the food that had to be tasted to be believed? So, with some skepticism, we finally had a dinner at Manresa last night.

Photo essay


Petits fours "red pepper-black olive"


Chestnut croquette


Grapefruit and jasmine tea cocktail


Oyster with sea urchin, its' own gelee



The egg



Foie gras and cumin caramel



Fatty bluefin belly, cucumber and shiso flower



Nantucket bay scallops, watercress vichyssoise



Spanish mackerel with steelhead roe



Warm smoked salmon and lentils



Chicken wing confit and breast, garnet yam and coconut milk



Roast rack of suckling pig, boudin noir



Kobe style American beef bavette, bordelaise



Pineapple soup with lemongrass


Saffron rice pudding with sour cherries



Warm date cake with dolce de leche cream



Chocolate souffle, condensed milk ice cream




Tea service: Chrysanthemum green tea


Petits fours "lychee-chocolate"


Now, some random notes

**Highlight dishes: Foie custard, Nantucket scallops, Spanish mackerel, Date cake

**Dishes that failed: Chicken wing confit, Saffron rice pudding

**Beware, the portions are small. This was the least full we’ve ever been after a large format tasting menu. This isn’t necessarily negative since the goal of such meals is really to revel in the food and not to stuff yourself silly. But I honestly felt like I could eat another whole meal at the conclusion of this menu.

**Water here is pretty steep. I believe this is the first restaurant where we’ve hit the $10 mark per bottle of sparkling water.

**Service was generally good but rather inconsistent. There would be points where the servers would be meticulous (ensuring perfectly straight silverware and turning bottle labels inward) while at other times things were pretty haphazard. If they were able to keep service at its peak levels, it would be an impressive feat. As it was, service was only average for this type of restaurant.

**Pacing was a little troublesome. The start of the menu came fast and furious. But as the restaurant became busier, the meal slowed to a crawl. There were some significant waits in between courses.

**Be sure to visit the restrooms. The walls are adorned with menus from some great restaurants…I saw autographed menus from Adria and Passard to name a couple.


Manresa is definitely a great restaurant and I will return. However, there’s no way I would proclaim it the second best restaurant in the Bay Area (behind The French Laundry.)

The menu was very up and down. The misses were significant while the hits were strong but not outstanding. If you assembled a six course menu of just the best stuff, you’d have a solid menu that would be very enjoyable; however, it wouldn’t qualify in the top bracket of high cuisine. Manresa seems to be all about keeping the purity of flavor intact and focusing on how elemental flavors play off one another in a more classically rooted, approachable manner. What I didn’t see were a significant number of more complex flavor harmonies or unexpected, innovative flavor pairings.

From my view, Manresa’s strong point is its warmth, charm, and approachability. It feels like a homey, local restaurant rather than a stark food temple. And to a certain extent, I think the food mirrors this feeling. It is well executed and high quality without being overly showing or overly intellectualized.

To be able to make next day reservations with no trouble is also a big plus. If I lived closer, I’m sure I would visit the restaurant often and focus my attention on the smaller four course menu.

View more of my food photography from the world's finest restaurants:


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I'm sure this won't sit well with some - but I kind of feel that if Rayner hadn't gone with Pim (at her suggestion I assume as well), and had just picked the restaurant out of the blue while visiting the Bay Area, his review would have been less gushing. His affection for Pim was more than evident in the Observer review, and it's quite possible that biased it. (My impression is that British journalists don't aim for the same level of objectivity that we expect from American journalists). Also - as a guest of Pim - it's possible he got extra-special attention from the restaurant.

As a lurker - I've been reading this thread from its inception with some degree of interest, and feel that there's a bunch of you who do really want Manresa to succeed, for one reason or another. Which is not a bad thing - it's great actually. But some degree of objectivity is lost, whether intentional or not.

Just my (possibly terribly misguided) impressions.

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Always wanting to participate in a lively discussion, or perhaps not knowing when to shut up, I will wade in one last time on this one. I think that it should be obvious that a restaurant regular with a food blog and a known restaurant critic from another country who have a chef make them up a special tasting menu just might get a little better treatment than the average guest. I don't know whether British restaurant critics are less objective than American counterparts, but it makes sense that the special circumstances of the meal might have affected the review a tad. But the real point here is that people should be able to post their experiences without being subjected to person attacks. A poster should not have to list dining credentials to present honest impressions, especially if they are as detailed as those of jeffj.

There is something about Manresa that seems to bring out protective instincts in a few regulars. I haven't seen it in postings about other restaurants on here, at least not to the same extent. Perhaps it is partly because of the quality of the restaurant- I don't know since I haven't been there. It is hard to believe that any restaurant can be perfect all the time, however. A prior posting that wasn't really negative at all, but opined that Manresa is for serious foodies who are willing to concentrate on the food, rather than casual diners looking for a relaxed evening met with an even more personal attack. In that instance, it was suggested that the poster there was a plant by someone out to get the restaurant. As johnnycab pointed out, some degree of objectivity seems to have been lost.

Edited by Carlsbad (log)
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The verdict is in:

Holy Shit.


Im in awe right now- A dazed euphoric state so comfortable that kinch must have worked some sort of illegal substance into the meal. We arrived at the restaurant two minutes before our reservation (for six.) There were probably only four occupied tables at the time. Kean was at the front counter maitre d'ing (no big surpise.) A little smalltalk during a coatcheck promted my mother to mention it was my birthday (no big surpise there either.) He showed us to our table and made with a little introduction ("Our menu is a little different here. Take a look.") I said "We actually know about your menu already Mr. Kean. Weve most certainly done our research." He looked a little amused.

So, i had my camera in my pocket expecting to take some pictures. Bread and drinks came along immediately and, of course, we all ordered the tasting menu. our waiter looked strikingly like a very talented magician that i used to work with back when I was a magic camp counselor.


within five minutes, the first dish was out (red pepper-black olive petits fours.) The olive 'cookie' was perfectly salty and was somewhat comparable, strangely enough, to a pecan. The red pepper 'gummy' was perfectly sweet and very little (if any) red pepper acidity showed through. litliterally through the first bite the next dish came out: Carrot- orange cocktail with hibiscus. The orange was frozen down and slushed to a crunchy ice. At first, i thought the carrot juice was too strong and the the ice tasted more like strawberry or even raspberry, but the feeling wore off. Next was a parmesan churro. Light like vine charcoal, the parmesan took a backseat to the flakey texture which provided incredible mouthfeel. Fatty bluefin belly tartare with meyer lemon came next. My mother is not a particular fan of fish or raw meat, although she had loved everything up to this point. A hint of meyer lemon carried this dish away from ground sashimi, although it could have done well to go a ginger route. Especially with the creamy cucumber sauce which accumpanied it. It was somewhat out of place in the amuses, but good nonetheless. Next were chestnut croquettes with liquid center. This was easily in the top three dishes. The crust was flawless. It had crunch right under the level of being audible and a wonderfully nutty flavor. The filling was even better. It probably contained brandy, Grand Marnier, or perhaps even rum against a buttery, custard-like body. By this time, my mother was probably through her first beer (served out of a very large glass.) I couldnt hold back a smirk when the exalted Egg came out. I had mentioned the egg to my parents before but would not tell them what was in it. I should not even have to mention its excellence, and any description i could give would fail to compare to what has already been said about it. So ended the nearly flawless amuses at about 45 minutes into the dinner- It felt like five.

Unfortunately, the entrees did not fare as well. First was foie gras and cumin caramel flan. If I were to have ordered this at any lesser restaurant, i would have sent it back. Entirely too salty and bitter, it was a glaring blemish on Kinch's record. Just shucked scallops with celery root and truffle came out next. The scallops were sliced to about 3 mm and had a tendency to stick together, although the mouthfeel was incredible. Supposedly a new dish made from some leftover white truffles from another dish, a creamy and fresh celery root puree further brought out the delicate nature of the scallops. My mother usually likes shellfish, although she has never liked scallops. She only had a bite or two of this wonderful dish.

I havnt had risotto for years before last week at our country club's buffet. sticky and grainy like a pilaf, it wasnt worth the free price. I questioned if there was such thing as good risotto. Tonight, they brought out spiney lobster on apple risotto. What a stellar combination! Remarkably tender, the lobster melted in my mouth faster than any scallop ever has. The apple risotto was downright voluptuous and carried a distinctly granny smith tartness that spoke 1,000 words more than any picture. I have yet to have good risotto, but I have now had great risotto!

Speaking of pictures, notice how I dont have any? I was far too busy with the food to bother with pictures. I figured I can draw anything that you really want to see, anyways. :raz: My mother, who can usually enjoy good lobster, only had a couple bites and claimed she was already becoming quite full.

Spanish mackerel with steehead roe was next. I expected the fish to be more tender and nearly capsized it while trying to cleave off a portion. The roe was far too large, plentiful, and powerful. The fish itself was the ideal of fish in terms of flavor but could have been flakier to compliment the taste. My mother tried one bite and then claimed, once again, she was full. By then she had finished her second beer. I told her to slow down on the beer or she wouldnt even be able to touch the deserts. She went on to claim that beer makes you hungrier. :blink:

Then I died- just a little. I have been a salmon fiend for as long as i can remember and have had a few copper river fillets in my day (and im not even 17 yet. :raz: ) Warm smoked salmon with lentils and (what i think was) savory cabbage. the texture of the finest sashimi and a light smoking kept the fillet creamy; perhaps the texture was closer to that of tuna, although the taste was most definitely salmon. The cabbage was a little salty and very crisp while the lentils were downright foreign without the bottled taste of vinegar. Any better and i would have licked the plate.

By this time, we were probably on our third waiter as a procession vaguely reminiscent of soldier ants on the discovery channel scurried in and out of the kitchen . We had all used the facilities and my parents were rather fascinated by the individual napkins that were being used in lieu of paper towels. I made a much more startling discovery: there are pictures of the food hanging next to the urinals. Sort of a strange message, although the urinal cake looks like the foie gras flan and probably tastes as good, too. :raz: Shortly thereafter, my nosy mother discovered that there is a busboy in the kitchen who individually polished every piece of silverware. At that point, we had probably used eleventy-billion pieces of it as our waiter presented each new piece with a flourish. The restaurant was, by then, filled with a mass that only left a single table left unturned and a birthday treat was already making its rounds.

Beef and oyster tartare and horseradish 'chaser' sauce with toast was next. My mother usually likes oysters- usually. She tried a bite and gave a high-pitched grunt. "What is this? it tastes like salmonella. Were all going to get sick" she exclaimed while drowing the taste out with her third beer. There are reasons that she refers to herself as a "classy broad." This dish was something different. The oyster wasnt truely detectible in the tartare- it played second fiddle to the beef, yet seemed to make the beef into something else entirely. The horseradish sauce could have been more bitter , but it was fine as it was. the toast with it was thin and buttery. I am glad they did not use something like bruchetta or even caviar triangles, as the crunch was much appreciated and the butter on it took the raw edge off the beef.

Abalone and braised veal cheeks landed next with the first lapse in syncronization by our meticulous albeit very busy waiters. My mother exclaimed "aww. I dont know if i can eat a little baby cow's cheeks," to which i replied "well i can!" the abalone was ideal although it was perhaps too crispy and tough. Without a knife in hand, the abalone simply did laps around the plate. The veal cheek was shredded and marinated into a bed for the abalone which tasted and was structured much like a tamale's filling. nice and salty. Mom ended up having about four bites of it before dropping her fork. "Its not the fact that the past few dishes were fish," she insisted, " I am just getting really full."

The roast squab "salmis-style" with turnips caught us off guard. The waiter had said the name entirely too lightly and ran off before we could ask him to repeat it. We were presented with what resembled a kidney and frog's leg. the kidneylike breast was discustingly soft although the flavor was that of a nice, rare steak. It was like chewing on a delicious cut of fat. The wing was very similar to a frog's leg and was golden brown with a delicate poultry taste. My father has a reputation for cleaning bones off with amazing precision and spent no time polishing the remains. When the waiter came out, we had to ask him what we just ate. he replied squab, which my parents had no idea what it was, which in turn caused for elaboration.

Then came Kinch's 36 hour lamb shoulder with sweet garlic puree. I wouldnt consider my mother to be a bad cook- I would consider her to be an aweful cook. She cooks as she was raised: around a single piece of meat. Actually, thats what prompted me to start cooking. If she could cook meat like that, she would still be cooking. That lamb fell apart in places where my fork had not yet ventured due to the tenderness. It was exactly what lamb can and should be. The garlic needed more acidity, but it was unnessicary next to that godly meat. The entrees ended much better than they began.

An amazing thing happened as the Pineapple soup with lemongrass came out: my mother miraculously recovered her appetite! fancy that. Upon the first taste, I decided that kinch's desserts and amuses are years ahead of his entrees. Powerfully sweet with a floating lime slice and suspended pineapple bits, it was a masterpiece. The gripe, strangely enough, was with the seviceware. The glass was clear and resembled the top of a wine glass without a stem. it curved at the bottom upwards and tapered from 3 1/2 inches to two without a flare. The top part could tip, therefore, nearly parallel to the table. seeing as that the bottom was wider and the portion was small, it required a look to the ceiling to consume it all. Rather awkward, seeing as that we wanted to savor it with many sips.

Another amazing thing happened there. It was probably about that time that my mother went out for a quick smoke. Before going out, she mentioned how crazy the conditions and quality of the kitchen must be. Michael Kean decided to come over to our table. thoughout the night, my parents pondered a few things aloud while busboys cleaned our table. comments like "Kinch must have a lot of experience, dont you think??" to which i automatically replied "two years executive at Ernie's in san francisco, executive at Silks, and plenty other places abroad." I mentioned the observer article in conversation too, as well as a few other tidbits. Kean must have overheard a few of these comments. Or maybe it was my mother's mention of my first dinner party the night before, or the mention of my birthday, or the mention that i am currently aspiring to own a restaurant. Who knows? Anyways, he came over to our table and invited us to see the kitchen after dinner. Wow! :blink: My mother comes in and we pass the message along. She nearly hits the ceiling.

Right as we are telling her, our next course comes: Coconut brulee with sour cherries. My mother doesnt care much for creme brulee and neither parent likes coconut, but it its unanimously opulent. I could have eaten a tub of it right then and there. :laugh: The cherries were nice and sour, but not enough to warrent a pucker and the brulee was only somewhat flavored with coconut. Instead, it was gloriously rich and was frothy enough for the remains to distinctly peak with every move of my fork.

Then, a third amazing thing happened. My dad requested some coffee, and my mom ordered a cup too. While they were clearing the previous dish, i decided to try some too. now, i have never been a coffee drinker. In fact, i cannot recall the last time i finished a cup. I drank that coffee like it was going out of style. Jesus that was some coffee. If it were any better, i would have reccomended adding it to the menu to make sure noone misses it.

Then, a fourth amazing thing happened. What a night. My mother has been using the same joy of cooking apple pie recipe since before she was born. Nothing has even come close. Pain perdu with caramel apple manifested on our table and I regretfully informed my mother that it beat her apple pie. she sighed, "I know," and gave a content smile. Buttery beyond poundcake, the perdu was wonderfully airy. The two tiny apple slices were much more sweetened than spiced and sat in a thick, dripping sauce. It disappeared faster than it appeared.

Throughout the night, my father had rubbernecked at chocolate souffles which waiters paraded around through the establishment. Childhood comfort food is always blown into epic proportions, but noone can overblow a memory like my father. He has always been vocal about the milkshakes and chocolate souffles of old with endearing terms that fit them into a checkboard diner somewhere around middle earth. Bittersweet chocolate souffles of our own, coupled with condensed milk ice cream, a dot of milk chocolate sauce, and a bittersweet chocolate cracker of sorts were placed before us. My father and i were probably heard moaning. The ice cream was simple, rich, and dense while the cracker was impossible to get to your mouth before it became a powder, which made the perfect bittersweet chocolate even a bigger treat to get into your mouth. The souffle itself was gorgeously light with a barely crunchy crust and hot chocolate sauce sulking around the bottom of the container. Even the little dot of chocolate was great and sweet. Even the little damn dot. As if on que from my father's childhood, fig milkshakes were wisked to the table. These were nonexistant according to the souvenir menus, further romanticising them to some extent. Although the fig was entirely too slight and slightly grainy, the rest of the shake was a godsend. It was served in a tall shotglass with a straw barely long enough to reach the bottom. The shake was, in order of appearence, cold, frothy, sweet, and chocolate-flavored. In a fraction of the time it took to type that, it was gone and we were polishing the remains as if we were slurping udon.

Out came petits fours lychee-chocolate in the form of the very first dish, but with a single birthday candle. the lychee was much sweeter than the first , as it well should be, and tasted of mangos. the chocolate was light and crumbly with a slight hint of what could have been brown sugar.

By that time, we were all stuffed. Just at that time, Kean came by and asked if we were ready. He escorted us to a corner of the kitchen as we watched in awe. He explained in rather thurough detail about their fantastic range, which (from what i could make out over the noise) seemed to be some hybrid convection contraption that had to be imported and brough in in a single piece, which required the wall be dismantled. Kinch was mixing away on the stove and barking out orders as waiters scrambled about. It was a surprisingly small kitchen- probably only triple our own.



In the middle of our conversation, Kinch snuck up on us and introduced himself. I thanked him for what i assured was the best meal of my life, and he was definitely pleased. My dad decided to snatch the camera and snapped a picture. I dont exactly want a picture of myself online (especially due to another forum i frequent) and it was a bad picture of myself, but here it is anyways:



We thanked them more thuroughly than japanese dignitaries and gave our farewell, very full and very happy. And here i am, posting this all from my neon cave somewhere in the east bay.



Edited by PurpleDingo99 (log)
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Happy early birthday, ya little whippersnapper.

Im a lot of things, but little aint one of them. :wink:

thanks for all the kind words, although im not sure if i would ever want to write professionally. After seeing how much work goes on, im not sure i would necissarily want to own a restaurant either. Its things like this that have made me a party magician, camp counselor, private investor, guitar player, artist, tae kwon do student, and a halfassed foodie.

I guess they know who you are at Manresa now, huh?

Maybe if i show up a couple more times, i can snatch your job next. :raz:

Unfortunately, i can see from some extent where jeff is coming from. I really overlooked the fact that the procession of entrees feels downright unnatural. Beef, veal, squab, and lamb in rapid fire, instead of building on the previous dish, seem to belittle the preceeding. The flavors of the beef and oyster tartare could have done better as something with crunch (like a croquette.) Next comes the abalone 'cracker' which seems to poke fun at the tartare by being too hard and crunchy. Then, the squab comes up and gives you something one-piece, but too soft. Then, the lamb shoulder finally gets it right. In this instance, i think the usual sea-to-land progression should be thrown to the wind and the dishes should be more intermingled so that they can all stand alone.

Things like the milkshake, while appreciated by the palette, dont make sense on the menu. Even a thick McDonalds shake would have done better there, as more textural tricks could have been done with it. the lychee-chocolate petits fours are literally a rehash of another dish, which gives the impression that your being cheated.

Ultimately, if i were playing yahtzee with this menu, i would keep 14 dishes and reroll the other 7. take it how you will.

Edited by PurpleDingo99 (log)
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I ate here last night as well actually. I thought pretty much a stellar meal, certainlyeven better than the one I had 6 months or so ago. Stars of the show were the scallop tartare with osetra caviar and a really classic poule-au-pot with a whole heapful of truffles. I will write it up properly when I find a way to do so without sounding too hopelessly gushing....

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All right, I have to go see what all the fuss is about. We're going there the week between Christmas & New Year's-we have early dinner reservations. I'm not up for the tasting menu; I'm leaning towards the "Fireplace Menu," which is small plates similar to what they serve on the terrace in the summer. I take it one of the dining rooms has a fireplace in it. Suggestions for what to order off that menu?

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Okay people, how far in advance are reservations taken? Open Table says 31 days. Does that differ at all from phone reservations? And are they so popular yet that I'd have to take the speed-dialing approach?

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All right, I have to go see what all the fuss is about. We're going there the week between Christmas & New Year's-we have early dinner reservations. I'm not up for the tasting menu; I'm leaning towards the "Fireplace Menu," which is small plates similar to what they serve on the terrace in the summer. I take it one of the dining rooms has a fireplace in it. Suggestions for what to order off that menu?

There is a "Fireplace Room" at Manresa, with a beautiful fireplace with custom ironwork (I think) on it. It is sometimes set up for banquets and special events.

I had some of the same dishes outdoors in May. The frites I would pass on, despite that they were just fine, as they didn't achieve enough distance from french fries and "crispy crunchy essence of potatoes" that I would hope to encounter in the deft hands of the Manresa kitchen. (There, that should free me of the "sycophant" label.) But wait, they're offering them with Kobe beef "bavette" (no idea what a bavette is). Ack. That sounds great.

We had the calamari, which was just wonderful, but on a wintry day? Not sure. Things with lemon taste better in hot weather to me. I'd skip it unless it's a warm day. Even so, you'll be inside. Go for winter. Enjoy those flavors and textures.

We didn't order the olives, but they came as a gift, and I'm so glad they did. It is universally known that I do not like olives. They are rubbery and squeaky and too salty for words. (Oddly, I love capers and olive oil.) I bravely try them again and again (as I did on my only trip to Italy). But these olives were a revelation. You may love olives. In that case, you'd love these.

We also had the sampling of four cheeses: one cheese was a gutterball, at least for me. (Bob probably thought it was fine.) It was just too sour and "gone" tasting. Again, this is just my personal preference. I will forego an analogy, though I won't order that cheese again. I thought the $12 tag steep, but that's just me because I didn't like that particular cheese.

After all our savories had arrived, David Kinch sent out the serrano ham, and it was exactly what I didn't know I longed for. It was just a throwback to my grandparents' house (a place of happiness, and the very walls smelled good). It was emotionally satisfying, in the same way a perfect strawberry is. It reminded me of childhood flavors: pure, essential, and the kind of thing I had to taste in miniscule bites, I liked it so much.

So, now, let's have a look at the new menu choices.

Winter Menu (which I'm copying and pasting from the PDF file downloadable at the web site):

Spanish Marcona Almonds (lightly toasted and salted) 3

Assorted Marinated Olives (herbs and olive oil) 4

Bocquerones en “Vinagreta” (marinated white anchovies) 5

Roasted and Marinated Sweet Peppers (grilled country bread) 5.5

Potato “Frites” (allioli “garlic and oil”) 6

Joe’s Green Onions Grilled on the Plancha (romesco sauce) 7

Potato and Leek Soup (gruyere toast) 8

Deep Fried Rabbit (allioli “apple and honey”) 8

Local Albacore Salad (fingerling potatoes) 9

Homemade « Boudin Noir » Sausage (apple sauce) 9

Homemade “Merguez” Sausage (chickpea frites, harissa) 11

Crispy Pig’s Trotters (stuffed with foie gras, lentils) 10

Country Style Pork Terrine (grilled country bread, “mostarda”) 10

Jeremy’s Genoa Style Salami (shaved parmigiano reggiano) 11

Fried Calamari (lemon allioli) 12

Serrano Ham “Redondo Iglesias” (18 months old, thinly sliced) 12

Kobe style American beef “bavette” (bordelaise, frites) 19

We had that "Merguez" sausage in the chef's tasting, and let me tell you: there is a sausage geek in the kitchen at Manresa. Chef told me that there's always someone fascinated with sausage. Find that someone: the sausage was NOT Jimmy Dean. I believe that "Jeremy" (listed with the salami) is the person who made the Merguez sausage we had, and which may have spoiled at least one of our party for life.

The soup looks good: there is always something so gratifying about soup in the wintertime.

My dinner would probably include:

Bocquerones en "Vinagreta"

Joe's Green Onions

Potato and Leek Soup

Deep Fried Rabbit

Homemade Merguez Sausage

The albacore salad with fingerlings sounds very intriguing -- fingerlings being one of the truest expressions of a potato on earth. I love them. More than any potato.

I bet the pig's trotters are great: there are few people I would trust to feed me something so, er, uncommon that I would eschew my prejudice. But if David Kinch makes them, I'm sure they're worth eating and that they taste good.

I bet you will have a deeply satisfying, comforting winter meal. I bet you can also ask them to structure a meal, so that you're not too weighted in the various flavor components. Advice from Manresa is a good thing. They are there to help you have a good experience.

I hope that helps.

EDIT: I say "I bet" too much. :sad::biggrin:

Edited by tanabutler (log)
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i had the lil' trotters at manresa last augest. They were good but I mostly remembered saying "pig trotters' with tammy in a strong snobby english accent. you really can't help yourself.

Isaac Bentley

Without the culinary arts, the crudeness of the world would be unbearable. - Kate & Leopold

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  • 2 weeks later...

So at the risk of falling into helpless sycophancy, I thought I should write up the meal I had here a couple of weeks ago properly, the same evening Purple Dingo ate there. It was a wonderful wonderful evening and even trying to think critically about it is hard for me, but hopefully there are things that can be said about the food the will actually contribute to debate.

The first meal I had here, about 6 months ago, was very very good, but I thought this was clearly a notch above. I think that may partly be because a lot of the dishes this time co-incided with my taste - richer, stronger, preperations, as well as spectacular raw dishes - more closely, but I also just had the feeling the place was on absolutely top form that night. We made it to fully 20 dishes, plus another totally different set of veggie ones as well, I won't try and describe everything but I'll cover most of the main events.


Petit Fours - Olive Madelines/Red pepper jelly

Orange Hibiscus Cocktail (frozen gelee) with carrot juice

Parmesan Churros

Chestnut Croquettes

Tuna tartare

Of these the croquette - which despite its name tasted entirely of white truffle, and was strong enough that the taste carried on growing for a full 30 seconds after the liqud center explodes in your mouth and the tuna were the most exciting. The very fatty toro was beautifully smooth and a fine chive dice gave it a lovely contrasting bite. The only slight oddness was the red pepper jelly, which was served at the same time as the cocktail, was rather overwhelming in comparison and they clashed a bit. The fresh carrot juice was spectacular though. the last amuse was more substantial and I'll link it up with the dishes that followed. We drank a 1985 Rene Collard champagne I'd brought to start off with, a small producer I'd never tried before, a very substantial bottle indeed, with a strong honey nose and extremely food friendly.

Slow poached egg with Manchego, Potato-Leek Soup

Foie Gras Caramel

Scallop tartare with Osetra caviar

Spiny Lobster with apple risotto

This sequence of dishes was probably the high point of the meal. The poached egg dish is simply extraordinary, the slow cooking somehow lets it keep its form when you cut into it yet it remains very soft, the crisped manchego adds some textural variety and the soup was intensely thick and full bodied. Later in the meal my veggie friend got a similar egg (they gave her the arpege egg amuse instead), but with truffles rather than soup... The caramel was the only repeated dish from my previous meal, but no harm repeating something that good. Also lovely in succession with the egg dish, one kind of smooth richness to another. The scallop/caviar combo is one of the best things I've eaten anywhere. The sharpness, brinyness and mouthfeel of the caviar complement the scallop perfectly. The scallop had also been lightly marinated, just in olive oil I think, which took away the sweetness I'm used to when I've eaten it raw in sushi, and definitely integrated it with the caviar better. The lobster dish was a lovely follow up, the spiny lobster not as tender as a Maine say, but exceedingly fresh with a lovely sauce, a veal stock reduction i think. We'd moved on to an Alsace Pinot Gris from the restaurant's list by the time we got to the foie, rather sweeter than I was expecting, and than my usual taste, but well made and not clashing at all with any of the food. Wine by the bottle is a challenge when you don't know what food you are getting, but I love the surprise element you get with the tasting menus here...

Mackerel with Salmon Roe

Smoked samon with lentils and cabbage

Relatively the least exciting dishes of the meal for me. Nopthing wrong with the cooking or their constituent parts, just didn't quite get me the same way the rest of the meal did. I loved the salmon roe - I just love brine in general - but the mackerel seemed a touch dry. I guess I'm not really so sure about hot smoked salmon, also a fairly think fillet of it just seems slightly too much of that taste to me.

Beef and Oyster Tartare, Horseradish Creme Fraiche and Watercress chaser

Fantastic... The tastes remain distinct so beautifully. Phenomenal watercress, never tasted fresher and crisper. In general, the placement of the tartare dishes throughout the meal worked incredibly well for me, sort of pillars to help refresh the palate and find one's bearing amid all the richness and complexity. with this we started on a 1999 Pierre Amiot Clos de la Roche, again something I'd brought along. A serious burgundy, complex and rather minerally.

Veal Cheeks with Abalone

This is obviously a really interesting dish, incredible contrasts in both flavor and texture, but by this stage a little too complex for my addled brain. The next dish however...


This had been presented whole in its braising pot earlier in the meal and had already got us very excitied indeed. The Four Storey Farms chicken is really amazing - is this the bresse-style bird I've read about? Masses of good black truffles under the skin, and more shaved on top. A rich chicken stock/cream reduction, a quenelle of pungent garlic puree and some gorgeous baby turnips. Also a demitasse of the braising liquid served on the side, very little fat and more or less the best chicken soup I've ever tasted. I think worked so well partly becasue although rich it was simpler than the veal dish and more suited to the state of my brain and palette by this stage in the meal. The most classically French dish i've had at manresa, but none the worse for it.

Also just a fantastic match for the wine.


Pineapple/Lemongrass soup

Coconut creme brulee with sour cherries

Pain perdu with caramelized apple

Chocolate souffle

The restorative powers of the soup are incredible!!! Brought me quite back to life. THe pain perdu dish was the most interesting I thought, a very superior apple crumble. The souffle was great, very bitter, which I love in my chocolate, although it had some water at the bottom, i don't know enought about the mechanics of souffle making to know what the cause of this was, but it didn't make it break up.

The great thing about the service for me is how good they are at making you feel like you are special and sharing your excitment with the food. There were a few tiny things - one sever announces the dish soooo fast its hard to follow, the mackerel dish was described as black cod initially, but the graciousness and friendlyness is so nice to be around. The chef came out and congratulated us on our appetites at the end, which really had been stretched very far indeed, and gave us a printed menu, really very friendly and welcoming. the food all in all interests me especially in how it blends classical technique and influence with local ingredients, but also avoids too much fashion consciousness - not a foam or pacojet in sight. Well, I guess I too am embarassingly overwhelmed, this was an amazing way to celebrate the end of 6 years eating Californian food... I've already expressed my uncomfortableness with both comparative judgments and terms like perfection, but this was as exciting and enjoyable a meal as I've had.

Edited by alexhills (log)
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Manresa is having a Citrus Modernista Dinner on Thursday, January 13, 2005. A Modernista dinner is a special multi-course dinner that Chef David Kinch prepares to highlight a seasonal ingredient or to preview a new seasonal menu.

Gene Lester is a non-commercial citrus grower in Santa Cruz who grows rare and exotic citrus, some of which "few people will ever taste," writes Christine Muhlke in The New York Times story Pride and Produce. The Santa Cruz Sentinel also published a profile of Lester.

Chef Kinch will hand select the citrus from Lester's sunny hilltop property in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The town of Los Gatos is visually stunning, with the Santa Cruz Mountains creating a grand backdrop. This locale is unique because Los Gatos serves as a gateway from Silicon Valley to the Santa Cruz Mountains winegrowers region where there are over 40 vineyards and wineries.

Here's the details: Thursday, January 13, 2005. Six-course Citrus Modernista Dinner. $95 per person. Seating begins at 5:30 pm. Reservations (and additional information) are available by calling Manresa at 408-354-4330.

Visit Casa Gregorio :: C A S A G R E G O R I O

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Thank you, Greg -- and welcome to Le Gullet! Are you affiliated with either Manresa or the citrus growers? We don't really care, but are always curious how folks come by their knowledge.

We hope you'll stick around and share more!

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Thanks for the warm welcome, Carolyn!

As you can tell, I am associated with Manresa. I have been assisting Manresa with some business lately, and I come across some interesting information regarding Manresa special events such as the Citrus Modernista Dinner. The posting comes with the blessing of Chef David Kinch and General Manager Michael Kean. I hope that eGulleteers will enjoy reading an occasional post from me about Manresa.

I have consulted with (and tried not to get in the way of) Tana Butler on the revitalization of the Manresa web site. My thanks and kudos go to Tana on a job well done.

I am a fan of eGullet and have been reading and learning from so many interesting posts. I've only begun to scratch the surface of the Q&A sessions.

I am also a big fan of the restaurant. Manresa opened my eyes to the pleasures of the table.

Warm regards,


Edited by Greg (log)

Visit Casa Gregorio :: C A S A G R E G O R I O

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Among other things, Gene Lester grows (or did grow, or has grown) twelve kinds of tangerines. I was not aware that there were twelve kinds of tangerines. He also grows (among other things: pomelo, orangelo, limequat, yuzu, kaffir lime, sudachi, mandarin, and ginger lime.

(Greg is great: a very talented jewelry designer and a wonderful help consulting on the web site.)

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Jay Rayner, of the London Observer, on restaurant trends for 2005:

Of all the restaurant meals I ate last year it was the one I enjoyed 5,500 miles away from home which most clearly points the way forward for gastronomy in Britain for 2005. It was those 26 courses prepared for me by chef David Kinch at Manresa in California: the seemingly never-ending platelets of ingredients, sensitively prepared to their best benefit.
Scroll down to #7 for the rest.

Very nice and well-considered.

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Lovely pictures, as always, Tana. Of course dining at Manresa does provide excellent subject matter! Those dishes are almost all different from the ones I had in December. Kinch is quite a food artiste with an impressive array of dishes, as delicious as they are beautiful to behold.

Thanks for sharing. :smile:


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Nicely done, Tana! You have successfully whetted my appetite for the citrus dinner on Thursday. The following week is the Navarro Vineyards Wine Dinner at Manresa. I would check with Manresa for availability—it may be selling out quickly. The Navarro Dinner is Thursday, January 20 at 6:30. Six courses. $125 per person.

I think that your photos of the dining room capture the relaxed ambiance. In your photos, the dining room takes on the look of what I imagine a restaurant somewhere on the coast of Spain might look like—except that this Manresa is coastal California. As IrishCream writes, thanks for sharing.

Edited by Greg (log)

Visit Casa Gregorio :: C A S A G R E G O R I O

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