Our first visit to the heralded Manresa was a fabulous, 22-course special dinner prepared for us by Chef David Kinch. It was arranged by Alder of Vinography, and resulted in a very memorable meal which had impeccable attention to detail, exciting ingredients and exquisite presentation. The strength of the menu was the seafood and fish in all forms.
Manresa has a delicate, worldly bent to its cuisine. The Japanese influence is perhaps the strongest, with French close behind. If weaknesses can be suggested it would be the main meat courses, which tend to make the meat the star (if that could be called a flaw), but they just didn't excite us as much. The wine program could use some tweaking as well, with the addition of more exciting and racy choices (where are the Friuli whites?!) to complement the menu.
All-in-all, this was the by far our finest meal of 2006. We highly recommend Manresa.
To start: Petit fours "red pepper-black olive" Red Bell Pepper Gelée with Black Olive Madelines. A play on fruit pastes and madelines. The red bell pepper flavor truly respected the essence of bell pepper. The black olive madelines were intensely olive.
Medjool date and Champagne Cocktail
Orange Champagne Granite with Saffron Gelee and Date Foam. The date essence was a bit lost to me. The saffron gelee on its own was very interesting.
Foie Gras with Chestnut. A pop-in-your-mouth deep-fried ball with a liquid center and just a hint of chestnut. Very nice.
Sea Urchin Shooter
with Citrus and Ginger. Perfect Sea Urchin in a bright citrus ponzu (tangerine oil and soy sauce) with a hint of scallion. Delicious. Highly recommended. We could have made a meal out of these.
Turnip and foie gras royale
Turnip Brioche Soup with Foie Gras Custard.
The foie gras on the bottom was an intense element. There was a drop of cinnamon oil. The brioche was used to thicken the soup. The soup was a delicate white turnip flavor.
Oyster in urchin jelly
Oysters with Sea Urchin & Seawater Jelly. A tiny bit of lemon zest. Very clean finish. The gelee brings all the elements together. The oysters were Petit Pt. Reyes.
Vanilla Bean Syrup with a soft poached Araucana egg in sherry vinegar. Like a frisée lardon salad without the frisée and lardons.
Mesquite Grilled Foie Gras, calamondin caramel. The caramel was a citrus caramel sauce with Welsh sea salt. The foie gras tasted like a kobe filet or grilled burger patty. It was very buttery and mesquite-y. Decadent and slightly scandalous.
Beet gazpacho, cured mackerel and osetra caviar salad.
The Mackerel was fresh and clean. It was a great pairing with the beet which was pure and pungent. I wanted to lick, scrape or sop the plate clean – but I needed something with which to do that, and in that way only could the dish have been improved.
Assorted Spring fish, dried sardine broth
Geoduck Clam, Big fin Squid, Kinome.
Miso infused shitake mushroom. Kinome has a lemon-balm-like finish. A very Kaiseki-like dish.
Sea urchin and Dungeness crab, lightly spiced coconut milk
Thai-style sauce, served in the sea urchin shell. The sea urchin was really, really good but this dish overall was not a favorite.
Scallop and its tripe, black truffles
A Nantucket Bay Scallop with Black Truffle Ragout. The scallop was very fresh. This dish makes me like truffles.
Kohada, shad rose, roasted black radish
Roasted Long Black Spanish Radish with Shad Roe and cured Shad Gizzard
The radish was sweet and buttery. The shad gizzard was sausage-like – great. There was a vinegar element reminiscent of boquerones – which added a slightly bitter finish.
Aji with pea shell bouillon
Steamed Aji with Spring Peas and Spring Pea Shoots.
Salt cod confit, surf clam and saffron rice
Alaskan Surf Clam on Biodynamic Risotto
Topped with salt cod confit. Cooked Sous Vide. The elements of saffron and salt cod mesh well. There was Italian cilantro as an element as well. Good flavors with a fresh finish.
Sweetbreads roasted whole, wild onion consomme
Veal Sweetbreads with Spring Onion & Sherry Consomme. Great! Sweetbreads were spicy and crispy. The meat was fork tender and the flavors all meshed well. A great dish.
Squab with young beets, homemade vinegar
Roasted Squab with Marinated beet, Porcini Mushroom and Black Truffle. The beet was on top of Porcini Puree. The squab was perfectly cooked.
Kid goat braised in aromatic spice, white yam and coconut milk
Braised Kid with White Yam, Fava Beans and Exotic Indian Spices. There was definitely vanilla in the braise. The spices came from Ludo Lefebvre (formerly of Bastide in LA).
The world's greatest cheese...
2001 Comté (five-years-old!*) from Bernard Antony. Deep flavor with lots of protein crystals. Not a long finish but truly excellent. (*Often the best Comté is aged 16-18 months.)
Strawberry salad with rhubarb and lemon
Strawberry and Rhubarb Foam with Lemon Curd and Mint Shreds. The foam was sweeter than expected – elements went well together.
Warm date cake with braised pineapple and vanilla bean ice cream
There was also Caramelized Pear in the ice cream. Good, but not a strong finish.
Chocolate risotto, sour cherries
Bio Chocolate Risotto with White Coffee Ice Cream, Sour Cherry Hazelnut wafer on the bottom
Petit Fours "chocolate-strawberry"
Strawberry fruit gelée and chocolate madelines. A nod to the first amuse. The gelees and madelines were almost the same color but very different in flavor. A nice finish.
David Kinch & Alain Passard prepared a special meal featuring the bounty of spring vegetables.
Garden Croquettes and our radishes
Amazing radish to a non-radish eater.
Épinards et mousseline de carottes à l’orange
Consommé of osetra caviar, seaweed brioche with farm butter
The butter was from Andante Dairy - and was specially made for this dinner. It tastes like the ocean. The consomme was really wonderful. The butter was also really excellent.
Poireaux au beurre, émulsion à l’huître et vinaigre (cepage muscadet)
Monterey Bay abalone, a broken egg and vegetables from the garden
Lotte, moutarde oncteuese d’Orleans, pomme de terre fumé au bois de hetre
Ris de veau pôelé et châtaignes effilées à la truffe noire
Roast spring lamb, young vegetables perfumed with dates
Carottes, sauce au chocolate <araguani>
Meyer lemon soufflé and other citrus (Gene Lester)
We brought some other wines (not listed), but also enjoyed these wines by the glass that were specially chosen for the event:
2002 Lignier-Belair Richebourg
2003 Bernard Morey Santenay Les Fussiene
You may notice that we do not give out a lot of praise. Having been to so many high-quality restaurants, it's pretty tough to impress us.
Most of our reviews are based on just one visit. We neither have the time nor the money (or often, the inclination) to visit most restaurants multiple times. So, please keep in mind that a single-visit review is a snapshot - the restaurant may be "on it" that day - or not. If the meal has a calamity involved (foreign objects in the food, wine poured on us, etc.) we try not to let it shade the overall review.
We pay for the food and beverages; restaurants never comp us. We try to be discreet about taking photos so that the staff doesn't notice/get an idea we're going to do a review. We rarely take notes in the restaurant.
Like the rest of our website, we update our restaurant review pages based upon subsequent visits.