Manresa

320 Village Ln. 
Los Gatos, CA 95030
Phone: 408.354.4330
Fax: 408.354.0134
info@manresarestaurant.com

Executive Chef / Proprietor: David Kinch

 

I owe complete credit to Pim (http://chezpim.typepad.com/) for introducing me to Manresa. Knowing it is always better to go to a restaurant as a newbie with someone who is known is definitely the way to go. My claim to fame is that I am no longer a newbie and just wish I could be a weekly regular. This is a great restaurant with a great chef. The dedication, the commitment, the quality, the execution – what more could one ask for and at Manresa you don’t have to ask because it delivers.
 
Chef Kinch warned me to come hungry and that was an easy order to obey. This was an extravaganza – an over-the-top experience.
 
I apologize in advance for the lack of photographic skill because the pictures unfortunately detract rather than enhance. I also apologize if I mistakenly identify some of the ingredients improperly. I tried to take extensive notes, but sometimes it was hard to write fast enough and now after some time has passed, it has grown more difficult to read these notes.
 
Chef Kinch is aware of our food preferences – my love of Japanese food, fish, local ingredients, purity, “less is more”, so I am inclined to think that this menu was orientated in that direction. Unfortunately, I was eating with wimps and we had to cut some courses. As always, we begin with a generous offering of Amuses:

Red Pepper / Black Olive

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This time I made a point to really “inhale” this dish – the favors are intense – think of taking something at its most basic, changing the shape and texture and keeping the ultimate taste.

Sea Urchin (UNI) Shooter

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The base was soy, ginger and citrus with shaved breakfast radish and scallions – OK someone could just take uni and inject it in me, but this combination was wondrous. My only complaint is that the glass hurt the shooter aspect – I really wanted one bite, but the container was too wide to get that all in one bite.

Warm Indian Creek Oyster, Apple, Leek, Coulommier Cheese

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Never in my head would I put oysters and cheese and for the life I me, I wouldn’t dare try it in a home kitchen, but with Chef Kinch yup!

Fatty Blue-Fin Tuna Belly, Perilla Flower, Kaffir Lime, Shiso

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Okay, I admit it: I’m easy. Just give me some good tuna and leave me be. What isn’t to like?

Tartine of Prawn Roe, Salted Butter, Toasted Brioche

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Another dish that should have been named “Why the hell didn’t I think of this?” The layering of flavors here is perfect.  Never too much of any one component.  A Manresa hallmark, to be sure.

Whiting (Kisu), Pancetta, Shiso

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The problem with Chef Kinch’s food is if you just rely on the written menu he so graciously gives you at the end of the meal, you will be lost when trying to write it up. Whiting has been wrapped in pancetta, a bit of shiso added, and then the whole is dipped in light tempura batter and quickly deep fried. Extraordinary.

The Classic Arpege Egg

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A warm poached egg yolk with lightly whipped cream and sherry vinegar drizzled with maple syrup. Phenomenal in France, phenomenal here in the hands of Chef Kinch.  The dish is a true classic.  

Spot-Prawn Carpaccio, Just-Pressed Local Olive Oil

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The prawns were from Monterey Bay and I can only say that I wish I could get fish as fresh as David Kinch. The just pressed olive oil was handled with a very judicious hand so that the taste of the fish was enhanced rather than overwhelmed. A bit of chives and sesame seeds rounded out the dish.

Marinated Mackerel, Oscetra Caviar

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The mackerel had been salt-cured. Underneath was crème fraiche with chives and the mackerel was topped with Oscetra caviar.

Amadai Cured In Dried Seaweed, Aged Ponzu

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Amadai is tile fish that eats only small crustaceans, usually crab. That is the reason this fish tastes so delicate. (As an aside, I ask many questions and the staff is more than willing to answer or ask Chef Kinch if they are unsure). The Ponzu was yuzu-based and the Konbu leaf had been rubbed with sake.

Sashimi Big-Fin Squid, Kin Medai, Geoduck, Kenomi Fern, Shiso, Shirashi

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I honestly don’t know if the fish detailed belongs to this dish or the next dish. Shirodashi is white soy.

Assorted Spring Fish, Enoki Mushrooms, Delicate Sardine Broth

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Mesquite-Grilled Foie Gras, Wild Mint, Calamondin Caramel

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Oh my – The foie had a somewhat smoky taste, although subtle. It was served with arugula rabe, wild mint, sea salt and slices of apple. The calamondin added the acidic/citrus note – again a subtle undertone not an over-the-top in your face accent.

Spot-Prawn, Asparagus, Miner’s Lettuce Salad

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The jus in this dish was from the roe of the spot prawns – Another note about Chef Kinch’s cuisine. Nothing on the plate is for show, each element is essential and if anything has been edited by Chef Kinch to add an important note.

Sea Urchin, Crab, Lightly-Spiced Coconut Milk

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There was a Thai element in this dish as the foam was made with coconut milk and a Thai chili paste. Fried shallots topped the dish adding a crunchy element.

Scallops, Scallop Tripe, Black Truffles

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What an absolutely incredible dish. The scallops were sliced so thinly that there was not even a hint of toughness. A ragu of scallions, carrots and tripe plus the black truffles added up to an exquisite dish.

Black Bass, Fava Leaves and Beans

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The Black Sea Bass had been seared a la plancha over fava beans. It was accompanied by a powerful, yet somehow managing to be subtle enough to not overwhelm the fish, anchovy vinaigrette.

Salt Cod Confit, Razor Clam Rice and Saffron

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The confit sat on a razor clam risotto – toothsome risotto, perfectly cooked cod.

Roast Squab, Wild Onions, Homemade Vinegar

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The homemade vinegar refers to Dave “Arata.” What is important to note in Chef Kinch’s cuisine is the sourcing of his ingredients – local farmers, local purveyors and insistence of quality, small producers. That translates into quality ingredients to begin with that results in a wonderful finished product. There was a squab breast with squab confit, wild onions a pine nut pudding and a natural squab jus.

Suet-Roasted Wagyu Beef, Porcini, Morel, Black Truffles, Beef Marrow Bordelaise

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At this point, I was in wine and food nirvana. I set my notebook down and gave myself up to the parade of desserts.  I’ve got the photos, but no notes.

Strawberry Consommé, Vanilla-Bergamot

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Belgian Waffle, Banana Caramel, White Coffee Ice Cream

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Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet Cones

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Chocolate / Strawberry Petit Fours

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Do the final petit fours look familiar?  A fun way to end a meal, but with deep meaning.  A meal at Manresa comes around full-circle.  From a lovely beginning, to a satisfying completion.  A complete and total experience that I feel lucky to have been a part of it.

What more can I say about a Manresa experience? Great, extraordinary, sublime? Take your pick. Delicious, intellectual dining from a dedicated chef with a talent you rarely come across is the best I can do. Bravo, and thank you, Chef Kinch.

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