Thursday, June 17, 2010


Tonight, I had an incredible dining experience. Joining me was my friend Josh. I love eating and he loves eating and fine dining as well, so it was only appropriate that we both go to a place we wouldn't normally go. Since it was his birthday, we decided to go to a restaurant of his choosing. We had considered many different restaurants until we we decided that we would be going to Manresa in Los Gatos. I made reservations in the afternoon and informed them that Josh's birthday was coming up. I didn't eat much because I was saving myself for the dinner. At 8 PM we were off to Manresa.

Josh driving us to Manresa. Notice the shiny fingernail on his middle finger

Josh adjusting the GPS

The sign in front of Manresa. We made it here in less than thirty minutes

Left by the staff of Manresa for Josh's birthday

Signatures and such from the staff at Manresa

Once we entered, we were seated right away and handed menus immediately. Our server, Wayne, was very friendly and very helpful throughout the meal. The card was also brought to our attention by Wayne and we found it to be a very nice gesture. Josh and I decided to go for Manresa's four course menu, as opposed to their tasting menu. We decided to each order different things so that we could try more. I ordered foie gras, abalone, beef bavette, and I decided to forgo my dessert and supplemented a cheese course instead. Josh ordered assorted shellfish, monk fish, porcelet with boudin noir, and their "Flavors of New Orleans" dessert.

Our first amuse bouche: Parmesan churros with dried kale

We received this a little while after we ordered. The churros tasted like, for lack of a better term, really good cheesy bread, and the dried kale was sort of like dried seaweed. They were good, but when compared to the things to come, I'd give this a 3/5.

Our second amuse bouche: Arpege egg with maple syrup and sherry vinegar

This one was very surprising. I was informed that this was a layered dish, so that it would be best to scoop all the way to the bottom to get all the flavors. I can't say that I've ever had anything like this before. The texture and flavor were so odd, but very pleasing at the same time. I would probably give this a 4/5.

Assorted breads with unsalted butter in the middle

I don't want to say that the bread was the highlight of the dinner, but it was definitely A highlight. The olive bread and brioche was delicious. I'm glad that the bread basket came by so often because I plowed through 3 - 4 pieces of each. The butter was good. It was unsalted, but there were crystals of salt on top so that you could flavor it the way you wanted. As Josh can attest, I thoroughly enjoyed the bread. This is a 5/5 for me.

And now onto our first course:

Josh's order of assorted shellfish

I'm sorry for the blurry photo, but let me tell you that this was amazing. The seafood was so fresh and the flavors were so clean. This order was a 5/5.

My duck foie gras

This dish was certainly rich and tasty. It seems like they poached the foie gras. I had a bit of a hard time giving Josh a piece, seeing as how there was a bit of vein. It was very good, but in relation to everything else, it was a 4/5.

Our next courses were:

My abalone in a dashi

I apologize, this picture is rather dark. This dish was good and rich. The mushrooms in the dish were good and I enjoyed the stock. I believe that the stock was probably my favorite part of the dish, it was smoky and rich. Josh seemed to like this dish more than me, I would probably give it a 3.5/5.

Josh's monk fish with fried mussels and a pea puree

This was a clear cut winner for me. The best part of the dish, in my opinion, was the pea puree. We kept referring to it as a "pea guacamole". The monk fish was like lobster. The mussels were absolutely incredible. As you can see, I'm using a lot of adjectives for "really, really, really good". That's basically what this dish was, it was incredible. It gets a 5/5.

Onto the main course:

My beef bavette with morel mushrooms in a sauce consisting of nettles

This was a dish where at first I thought, "This is very good, but not great." However, that was because I started off eating the components individually. When I started eating the beef with the morels, it took this dish to a whole other level. Pardon me for saying this, but the best way I could describe it is, "The absolute best mushroom burger ever." I mean with the ingredients separate, this dish would probably be a 3.5/5, but when they're put together it's definitely a 5/5.

Josh's porcelet with boudin noir

You can practically get fatter just by looking at this picture. There's just so much going on in this picture, it's ridiculous. The pork was incredibly rich and fatty. In fact, at certain points, it got a bit too rich for Josh's liking. The boudin noir was nicely spiced. Josh described the potatoes that came with the dish to falafel, which I have to somewhat agree with. This dish was great and the third course definitely put us over the edge. This dish gets a 5/5.

After several pieces of bread and courses, we got a bit of a break:

Alright, I don't remember what this was, but this is our intermezzo dish

The best way I could describe this dish is ice cream with a bit of a citrus gelee on top. This was a good palette cleanser. I would give this 3.5/5.

Next we have dessert:

Josh is black as night

A picture of Josh's "Flavors of New Orleans" dessert with his birthday candle still burning

Josh's "Flavors of New Orleans" dessert

This dessert was good, but not great. It didn't amaze us as much as the previous courses. The pecan dessert was my definite favorite. The beignets were okay. Again, this was good, not great, so I'd give this dessert a 3/5

My cheese course. On the left I have a goat's cheese, then a sheep's cheese, another goat cheese, and then a cow cheese. Accompanying the cheeses are almonds and a sort of almond paste

The way I would rank the cheeses would be the ones on the left being my least favorite and the ones on the right being my favorite. Our favorite was the Monte Enebro which is the second cheese from the right. It's textures were layered as the outside was hard and the inside being incredibly soft. We couldn't imagine who would be able to finish this course by themselves as it was incredibly rich. I would give this course a 4.5/5. It would probably be a 5/5 if the other cheeses were as amazing as the Camembert (right) and the Monte Enegro (second rom right)

Wayne was kind enough to write down the name of our favorite cheese for us

At this point, we thought the evening was over, but then...

A sliver of the most decadent chocolate dessert ever

This dessert after our dessert was certainly a welcome surprise. At this point we were absolutely stuffed, but this was just too amazing to not eat. Wayne described it to us as, "It's a...well it's REALLY rich chocolate." There are no better words to describe it. It's like the best fudge you will ever have. This as well is a 5/5.

After paying, on our way out we were told to grab a few of their sea salt caramels. I asked Wayne if it would be alright to grab a handful, to which he said that it would be fine. I grabbed about eleven and Josh grabbed another eleven.

Yeah buddy, caramels on my lap

I'm starting to think that eleven for each of us wasn't enough. Like most of everything else we had, these were 5/5 in relation to other caramels. These were soft, rich, and gave a good mouth feel. I'm going to have to ration these out or I'm going to have to go back to Manresa really soon.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I did not regret the price at all. It's definitely something I wouldn't do any time soon, but if I had the means to do so, I would seriously consider coming back soon. The staff were great and my glass never went empty. The bread was amazing and when coupled with the courses, it was nearly gut busting. It was truly, a rad bromance.

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