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Manresa Restaurant, Los Gatos


bong
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tana,

i was at manresa the same night as you. we had the tasting menu. did you? judging from your pictures, we had many of the same dishes, except we didn't get the parmesan churro, or the pineapple soup. instead of the churro, we were served fried cod with romesco sauce. and in place of the soup we had 2 other desserts aside from the wonderful souffle. a spice cake with poached pears with ginger ice cream, and a date milkshake with dulce de leche cream. my favorite dish of the night was the cod with salmon roe.

i was afraid we would still be hungry after dinner, given what some previous posts mentioned, but we were almost disgustingly full, all except for my brother, an enormous eater, who happens to be in two of your pictures. luckily, i am obscured by some wine glasses and my husband.

edited to add more info.

Edited by dexygus (log)
dexygus
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  • 2 weeks later...
Has anybody been to both Manresa and Sierra Mar?  Am going to the area next week and want to pick one.  I understand that Sierra Mar has a teriffic view, but am mostly interested in sheer food quality.

Logistics could be an issue. Sierra Mar is at the Post Ranch Inn at Big Sur...about 1/2 hour - 45 minutes south of Carmel/Monterey on Highway 1. Manresa is in the village of Los Gatos, about a 2 - 2 1/2 hour drive north from Post Ranch. If you're staying in the Santa Clara Valley, or anywhere between Los Gatos & San Francisco, Manresa would be the choice. If you're overnighting south of Santa Cruz, perhaps Sierra Mar would be the best alternative. I haven't eaten at Sierra Mar, so I can't address that part of your inquiry...I'm just looking at things from where you're planning to spend the night. Although I'm not familiar with the cuisine at Sierra Mar, one would be hard pressed to equal what David Kinch does at Manresa anywhere south of and including San Francisco.

Edited by samgiovese (log)

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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Thanks, sangiovese. I'm actually staying in Big Sur, and was just thinking of catching Manresa on the way back to SF. To dine at both, I would have to go to Sierra Mar and Manresa on consecutive nights. I would like to make my student budget stretch a *bit* farther than that (at least to Chez Panisse et.al. over the weekend).

So if anyone has a good sense of which meal would produce more lasting food memories, lemme know.

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Last night, Mer Lot & I had the pleasure of dining at Manresa with Carolyn Tillie and Shawn. Being their first time there, Chef Kinch out-did himself making us feel welcomed and pampered. Below is a copy of our menu. More later.

gallery_18838_706_24028.jpg

Edited by samgiovese (log)

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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To add my ruminations on the magic that is Chef Kinch, the following meal was shared last Friday evening by Samgiovese and MerLot (glorious hosts!) with Shawn and me... Glorious meal, glorious hosts... sing thy praises, oh angels up above!

Also, I apologize for the blurry pictures -- it actually convinced me to buy a new camera...

A complimentary glass of Veuve... not pictured. Who can complain about getting luscious Veuve?

Petit Fours of Red Bell Pepper Pate de Fruit with Olive Madeleines

Immense flavor burst in the pate de fruit with a great compliment of the tender, savory madeleine.

Parmesan Churro

Would that these were available on street corners!

Oyster and Uni in its own Gelee

I've never had uni like this - amazingly fresh and an instant aphrodisiac.

Key Lime Tequila Cocktail with Hibiscus

The perfect palate cleanser.

Some Chardonnay for the next few courses...

2002 Peter Michael 'Mon Plaisir' - from Samgiovese's cellar. I used to hate chardonnay and am now looking forward to trying more, if they are like this one!

The Arpege Egg

Finally, to see what all the hype was about. Well worth the hype.

Crab Ravioli topped with Avocado and heightened with Blood Orange

The avocado could have overpowered this, but the orange brought out the crab and all the flavors balanced together wonderfully.

Blue Fin Tuna Tartare with Ocean Gelee

It somewhat disappeared in the mouth, melting and expanding in flavor.

And now, some Pinot Noir.

2002 Mendelson, from the wine list. Lovely, huge, syrah-like Pinot. Must look for more. An aroma of toasted marshmallow with full, dark raspberry in the mouth.

Risotto with Bottarga with Shellfish Gratin

Great use of bottarga! I could have easily dined on a large plate of this alone.

Spot Prawn with Cauliflower

Like the uni, I have never experienced cauliflower this good. It starts like a simple cream in your mouth and the next thing you know, the essence of the vegetable explodes and in a zen-like feeling, you ARE a cauliflower.

At this point, we had the two Ladera wines that I brought, the 2001 Howell Mountain and 2001 Lone Canyon - both Cabernets.

Mackeral with Salmon Roe

I must admit, several days later, this is one of those dishes I keep remembering. The explosion of the roe contrasting with the perfectly fresh mackeral was fabulous.

Duck Liver and Marrow on Toasts with shredded BlackTruffles

Shawn dashed to the men's room when this dish was brought out -- he almost didn't get his...

Foie Brochette with Dried Fruit

Never met a foie I didn't like... the chunks of dried fruit compimented the melting foie very nicely. Good thing I had a sip of Veuve left!

Confit of Suckling Pig with house-made Boudin Noir - as it looked before being plated. Stunning. And after it was plated. Not many folks are brave enough to make homemade boudin noir. Huge kudos to Chef Kinch for this one - innovative considering the clientele AND extremely well done.

36 Hour Lamb with Sweet Garlic Puree

Again, an entire plate of this would have been quite sufficient.

Blood Orange Sorbet with Kumquat

Another great palate cleanser - very intense.

Pineapple Soup with Kaffir Lime

The chunks of pineapple made this quite fun, but I didn't get a huge sense of the lime.

Caramelized Pineapple Cake

Ah, the beginning of the desserts...

Pecan Tart with Rum Banana

Possibly the least successful of the bunch, but then again, I've never considered bananas very elegant.

Bittersweet Chocolate Souffle with Cinnamon Ice Cream

Need a big one of these!

Miniature Hot Chocolate with Dulce de Leche

Probably the one thing that haunts me the most. Beyond creamy. Beyond rich.

Finale Petit Fours - Lychee Pate de Fruits with Chocolate Madeleines

A stroke of genius to finish with the same composition that he started with.

The biggest problem is that I live a bit too far away to frequent Manresa. I would love to go through and have his fireplace menu - or even some of the main courses. Must make the effort, though. The restaurant is too good to be this close and not be frequented.

And many, many gratuitous thanks to Sam and Mer and Dave and Michael and Tim! :wub:

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I ate at Manresa on the 27th. It was slightly different: monkfish instead of mackerel with the salmon roe, a truly amazing ricotta ravioli with swiss chard, etc. I won't bother repeating earlier praise of the savory courses, and it was one of the best meals I've had in a restaurant. Many thanks for the recommendation.

The desserts, however, I found completely unimpressive. The gap between the desserts and the rest of the meal was reminiscent of Blue Hill in NYC, and the cloying green apple sorbet was quite similar to one I had there.

The pineapple soup was exactly the same as drinking the dregs from a can of pineapple juice. The pineapple cake was dry, and the accompanying sorbet (which I can't even remember!) was too sweet. The souffle was also too dry, maybe 10th percentile for restaurant souffles. The pecan tart was nothing special.

The petit fours were good, although I liked the black olive better than the chocolate - the former was creative, the latter perfunctory.

Maybe it was just an off night, but although the meal overall may have bested, say, Per Se, I didn't feel the desserts were in the same league. Great, great dinner though.

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Adventures in food and wine: Alder of Vinography.com and Chef David Kinch of Manresa are planning The Story Wine Dinner. This is a five-course dinner, with wines specially selected by Vinography.com. Alder writes this teaser on Vinography.com:

I will tell a story about each wine that we are serving, and a representative from the kitchen (perhaps even Chef Kinch if he is not too busy) will share something of the background or inspiration for each dish or one of its special ingredients. Throughout dinner you will be encouraged to share your own favorite stories of wine and food experiences: the best meal of your life, the most memorable meal, the worst wine you ever tasted, etc.

The Story Wine Dinner is Thursday, February 24, 2005. More information can be found at Manresa and Vinography.com.

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

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  • 1 month later...

I recently had the great pleasure to not only dine at Manresa, but also to interview David Kinch for the UK's Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine. I arrived at 6.00pm and didn't leave the restaurant until 1.00am the following morning - nearly a full days work without even a lunch break!

I'm working on the article now, and as my meal will form an intrinsic part of the piece, I'm unable to write about it here. However, once published, the interview should be available online and if so I will provide a link to it on this thread. It may also be possible for me to published unused material from the interview here, but I will need to seek authority from the magazine to do so and I may have to wait a while to do it.

In the meantime, do other members have recent experiences at Manresa they would like to share?

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This thread has recently been swept clean, but we’ve endured months of postings from insiders raving about 4+ hour parades of cutely packaged, tasty amuses.

To me, that doesn’t justify the 1.5 hour commute through nasty choked highways to get there. Can someone, an outsider, a basic customer with no connections, tell us if this place is really any good? There’s a regular menu on Manresa’s website. Can the kitchen actually create a main course that sustains interest for more than three bites? How fantastic is a three course meal ordered ALC by a stranger? How does the FOH treat those unconnected to the place? Is there an interesting list of good bottles to enjoy on their own, or does one have to mix red, white, sweet, sparkling, and four countries to “get” what Manresa is supposedly doing?

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I was a basic customer, w/ no connection etc. I was treated very well, invited back to the kitchen for a conversation with Kinch, and served excellent food. Much better than merely "tasty" amuses. Didn't drink wine or order a la carte - the latter doesn't seem the point of the place. With the exception of the desserts, much much better than anything I've had in SF, Gary Danko being the best of that lot. An hour and a half? Come on.

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I just went here as well because I had read all the posts on this place.

I had the $95 chefs menu and it was just like the pictures bong and jeffj put up. Actually, it was kind of surreal because, for instance, when the bluefin toro dish was put in front of me, I flashed back to all the photos people have put up. *sigh*

My favorite dishes were the oyster on the half shell (as shown in earlier pics) and the sweetbreads we had. I think I would go back for a 3 course meal with the sweetbreads as one of the dishes. I would be interested in hearing from people who have eaten the 3, 4 or 5 course meals.

Anyway, aside from all the fighting, insider info, whatever, all in all, I personally had a great meal, but also I was with good people which of course is a huge plus.

BTW, Gary Danko doesn't do tasting menus, unless things have suddenly changed. I guess if you compared the non-tasting menu you could do some sort of meaningful comparison.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Thanks jchyun—for some reason, I trust your opinion.

Manresa is a puzzle. Is it just another quirky suburban place that the locals are excited about or is it a destination restaurant? In my travels, I’ve been sucked into a few such provincial “gems.” In the Alinea thread, the owners discuss the idea that the restaurant experience begins when the customer first makes the decision to call for a table at a particular restaurant. It’s the whole package: the trip to the front door, the greeting, the whole evening door to door.

If one is a good cook at home, a restaurant has to provide something way better: food and wine that teaches and amazes, gracious pampering, a calming space. There’s lots of ways to spend $100-$200 close to home and in the cities we travel to. I can’t figure out from this forum if Manresa is really worth it. FL is a romantic overnight in wine country, not just a special meal. But Los Gatos, where the landmarks (according to the website) are a local mex restaurant and a bank parking lot? I’ve done the Berkeley to San Jose drive at dinner hour on a Friday and wouldn’t call it a pleasing beginning to a special evening. Oh well, the locals and fans will say, keep your money in SF, stay home. But aren’t we all looking for that perfect meal? Is it Manresa?

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Thanks jchyun—for some reason, I trust your opinion.

Yes I'm very trustworthy :biggrin:

But though I may have liked those dishes I mentioned, you may not. But those were my favorites. FWIW

As far as whether or not it was worth it, I can't speak for anyone else but I think it was worth it. Of course, lately, I've had some horribly expensive sushi, so anything in comparison is a good value.

I went on a Sat to avoid the horrible traffic. Actually, Sun is probably the best day to go here, considering traffic and the fact that Sat is usually a busy day for restaurants.

Los Gatos is a very small town. It's just a couple of stops before you hit the mountainous road into Santa Cruz. I actually know people who know what Los Gatos was like before it became the bedroom community to the Silicon Valley nouveau riche. But you can still see the sleepy suburban quality, I think.

--I tried looking into all the stores on the main street (I think it's actually called Main street) but I have a feeling Manresa is probably the only game in town as far as high end dining is concerned.

Edited by jschyun (log)

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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But aren’t we all looking for that perfect meal? Is it Manresa?

I was hoping for the perfect meal, but then, every time I sit down to eat in a restaurant I've been admiring I'm hoping for the perfect meal. Sometimes expectations can get in the way and you end up disappointed. I planned a trip to California from London to eat at Manresa. I had two sublime meals. Wouldn't call them perfect though. I'm just writing up a report. I guess I ate so much I'm having "the dissertation" problem.

So I figure if I can fly five and half thousand miles to eat there there's no great shakes to drive one and a half hours :-)

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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  • 2 weeks later...

EDIT: this formatting is not working at all!!!

Big news:

http://www.manresarestaurant.com/Top50.html

From the link above: Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos has been selected for inclusion in Restaurant magazine’s annual "World’s 50 Best Restaurants" awards. The London-based industry bible polled more than 300 international restaurateurs, chefs, critics, and journalists to rank the best restaurants worldwide.

The complete list of award winners will be revealed on April 18, 2005, at an exclusive awards ceremony to be held in association with Penfolds Wines. David Kinch, chef and proprietor of Manresa and his partner, General Manager Michael Kean, will attend the event in London, where the world's finest chefs and restaurateurs will converge. This is the first year that Manresa has been chosen for the international award in the restaurant's three-year history.

- - - - - - -

Fantastic accomplishment, especially for a restaurant that's only three years old.

Edited by tanabutler (log)
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While I don't give any credance to the absolute rankings in lists like that, the general recognition of being considered for it is awesome! Congratulations!

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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This thread has recently been swept clean, but we’ve endured months of postings from insiders raving about 4+ hour parades of cutely packaged, tasty amuses.

To me, that doesn’t justify the 1.5 hour commute through nasty choked highways to get there. Can someone, an outsider, a basic customer with no connections, tell us if this place is really any good? There’s a regular menu on Manresa’s website. Can the kitchen actually create a main course that sustains interest for more than three bites? How fantastic is a three course meal ordered ALC by a stranger? How does the FOH treat those unconnected to the place? Is there an interesting list of good bottles to enjoy on their own, or does one have to mix red, white, sweet, sparkling, and four countries to “get” what Manresa is supposedly doing?

Sorry to say, that I'm not an "outsider", so take this with a grain of salt. I no longer live in the area and only ate there once. I'll also say that David and I are at least friendly aquaintences and one of the people I was dining with is a close friend of his. I should also say that, while I am also a chef and completely enjoyed my meal there, I typically gravitate towards more simple fare. A perfect Lengua Taco sort of guy if you get the drift. That said, one could argue that this type of restaurant is the only type worth dropping big money on. I mean, what's the point of spending $25 for Braised Lamb Shank with Polenta when you could just make that at home and avoid the hassles of going out. If I'm spending good money, I want some kitchen gymnastics.

First off, the 1.5 hour commute and the alleged lack of ambience the area provides: While it may not be quite as nice as a jaunt into Napa (as you implied when comparing it to F.L.), spending a leisurely drive down Skyline Blvd with a nice hike and picnic at one of the many parks along the way is pretty nice. If you were to start your Saturday that way and then drop down Hwy 9 into Saratoga, you could spend a little time there, probably grab a nice coffee and move along to Los Gatos (just a few miles down the road). For that matter, Santa Cruz Ave in Los Gatos is pretty cool as far most downtowns are concerned and I'm sure you could find a chill little place to stay the night.

In terms of the restaurant itself, I wouldn't mess around with a three course meal. Not that it wouldn't be good, but that would seem like a cop-out. Endless journeys of small plates seems to be what Manresa is about and I'm sure the crew would put their best foot forward regardless of who you are. The cooks work there because they are deeply committed to making great food, not just turning out their friends. Getting together for drinks with some of them made me realize just how into it they are. These guys were showing up with cookbooks and arguing about Catalan cuisine for godsakes! After work! At a bar! Who brings a freaking cookbook to a bar? I assure you, you'll be in good hands.

However, just like any dining experience, you'll need to chill out and meet them halfway. If you go in with the chip on your shoulder that your posts seem to show, you'll just be wasting your money.

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The area around Los Gatos/Manresa does indeed have treasures. In the Santa Cruz hills, there’s Castle Rock, with really world class climbing. If you blur your eyes, it looks like the forests and boulders of Fontainebleu, France. Doesn’t Ridge Vineyards have a tasting room up there too? There’s also a good branch of the Wine Club nearby (is it still in biz?) where occasionally, victims of the internet bubble unload their cellars at decent prices. Manresa sounds wonderful; haven’t heard anything otherwise.

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We'll be dining at Manresa on April 2. It's likely that at least one person at our table will order the vegetarian tasting, while the rest of us will enjoy the non-restrictive tasting. I won't be taking pictures, but I'll try to report back here promptly with a review. I have no connections to the staff, for what that's worth.

Joseph

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I have no connections to the staff, for what that's worth.

You do now! The alert has no doubt gone out and I'm sure it's been duly noted by the powers that be. :cool: Wish I were going too and I look forward to your report.

"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

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two questions:

1) Can anyone speak to how difficult/easy it is to get a reservation (and if it's getting any harder of late)?

2) How much of an insider (if at all) do you need to be to be treated to an 18 course feast? My sense after reading about Manresa ad infinitum is that the long and impressive tasting menu is available to any Joe Schmoe who walks in the door but I want to be sure I don't need to ask when I make my reservation.

I plan to go in August for my birthday and want to know how best to plan ahead.

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I last went at Xmas time and made my reservation - for a Saturday - a little over a week ahead, I don't know if its any more difficult now. The other time I went it wasn't full. I have exactly zero connection to the restaurant and had fantastic and very long meals both times. the second time I did let them know we'd be having a tasting menu and what wine we'd bring before hand, but that's it.

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