We have known Cal Stamenov for years, since his days with Michel Richard at Citrus. We hadn’t been back to Marinus for quite some time so decided that a trip to Bernardus Lodge was long over-due. Our last stay at the Lodge was tremendous; I wish I could say that this was the case this time.
We arrived early for check-in, were given a glass of wine and informed that our room was being readied ASAP. After 45 minutes of sitting in the lobby area, John checked with the front desk person who had said our room was almost ready. He looked at John with a blank stare and asked him his name and what did he want. John was told that it would be another 45 minutes. Long story short, a talk with the GM produced a room right away.
Other problems with Bernardus included:
1. The room was stifling, even with the AC supposedly going full blast. We called for a maintenance man and he insisted that the AC was fine. He put his instrument up to the vent and it showed 59 degrees. I asked him to measure the temperature on the bed that was below the vent. It showed 85 degrees. He shrugged his shoulders and left.
2. After dinner at Marinus, our key didn’t work and we had to get a manager to open the door.
3. John confirmed our next day massages for 10 am with the spa when we first checked in. We got a call from the spa at 9 am asking why were we late for our 9 am massages.
On the other hand, Cal is terrific. Just after we checked in, he sent over a huge tray of cheese and salumi to our room – class act.
Meal at Marinus
We didn’t look at a menu as Cal had organized a chef’s tasting menu for us.
Chive and lardon biscuit
Garden Spring Roll, Ponzu Sauce – the spring roll was filled with carrot, cucumber. red pepper and cilantro. The “sauce” in the bottom of the glass was citrus, soy and miso.
Foie Blonde and Pata Negra Iberico Ham - Cal had received the ham whole, including the hooves. The foie was served on brioche with a sprig of thyme. Great course and the pata negra was in a word delicious.
House Cured Salmon Caviar, New Potato, Creme Fraiche – The eggs were harvested from a fresh steelhead salmon and then cured. This had absolutely no connection with the salmon eggs you get in jars. The balance was perfect on these eggs – just the right touch of salinity – and they actually popped in your mouth.
Big Eye Tuna and Hamachi Sashimi, Small Cubes of Japanese Cucumber, Watermelon and Mango with Meyer Lemon Reduction, Olive Oil and White Soy – also all the herbs are from their garden. I really liked the citrus component of this dish – a perfect end of summer course.
Butter poached Maine Lobster, Fresh Corn Polenta with Tarragon, Hand-cut Pappardelle Pasta – The fresh corn polenta with the lobster is a match made in heaven and the pasta was cooked to perfection.
Close-ups of Lobster – Notice this was a very generous portion – both the lobster claw and the tail was included
Opakapaka (Hawaiian Pink Snapper), Garden beans, Celery Root Puree – this was a huge piece of fish – almost too much. I fell in love with the beans from their garden.
Monterey Bay Sardine, New Mexican Pimento des Arbol, Sunburst Squash from the Garden, Olive Oil – the Pimento was very, very hot and I basically deconstructed the dish and ignored it. The sardine was faultless.
Sonoma Duck Breast, Alder-smoked Cranberry Beans, Cippolini Onions, “Buerre Rouge” Duck Reduction – the duck was excellent, but I fell in love with the cranberry beans.
Colorado Lamb, Eggplant Agnolotti, Garden Parsley, Truffle Vinaigrette- again I loved the accompaniment – the agnolotti with the truffle vinaigrette was a meal in itself.
Bosc Pear, Poached Pear, Quince, Diced Mint, Fig Caramel, Pear Puree, Huckleberry Sorbet, Pock Rocks, Olive Oil Powder
Brut Reserve – Champagne Pol Roger–the wine list tends to be expensive. This was one of the lesser cost champagnes. It was nice as Pol Roger usually is, but nothing special.
2006 Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets – Domaine Paul Pillot–Mark suggested this and it turned out to be quite nice, clean, fresh and well matched to the early fish courses.
2006 Chambollee Musigny – Domaine Georges Roumier 350 ml–a good choice by Mark. Full bodied with a very clean finish. Not a value, but a good wine.
An excellent meal, well-orchestrated with excellent service. Unfortunately, unless we can find a place to stay near by, we won’t be coming back…the lodge has gone down hill. John wrote the GM over a week ago and has yet to hear back.