Archive for August, 2012


Providence serves lunch only on Fridays. Last Friday with a nice guest the Refined Palate Roving Reporter got to indulge at Providence. Because we are frequent guests, Chef Michael Cimarusti and GM/Partner, Donato Poto determined to spoil us and spoil is an understatement.

Wines were:

n/v Pierre Peters .350 ml

1995 Hermitage Blanc, Sorrel

1983 Cote Rotie, Chapoutier

I am not going to try to describe each dish. The pictures do the job.

Every dish was excellent.

Red grape/green Chartreuse and Sparkling Watermelon

Santa Barbara Spot Prawn Tartare/Nasturtium/Caviar

New Bedford scallop tartare, Australian Black winter Truffles, soba, nasturtium

San Diego Uni Tartlet, Soy Salt, WasabiBoat

Santa Barbara Prawns Ravoli

Pasta con Sarde

No Photos

Wagu Beef Tartare, Surf & Turf Oyster Plant, Nori Crème Fraiche, Nori foccacia

Wild French Cod

Mont Blanc-Vanilla Cake,chestnut crème fraiche, vanilla meringue

Mullberrys avocado sorbet, Leeche nut

Friday at Providence is a supreme treat not to be missed.


Milo and Olive

I am constantly amazed by the quality of the food at Milo and Olive. This is a “fine dining” restaurant in a casual atmosphere. For a dedicated home cook it is a dream. Who needs to watch the Master Chef on television when you can watch a dedicated and expert crew of line cooks and sous expertly managed by executive chef Jason Mattick turn out perfectly crafted cuisine. We like to go early, sit at the bar, chat with Jason and watch every move in the open kitchen.

Wonderful Jason

The open kitchen – our view from the bar

BYO Wine – we share with everyone

“Just a nibble” – assorted olives, peppers roasted with rosemary and thyme, caper berries, almonds

Hanger Steak Carpaccio, raw mushrooms, shaved parmesan cheese, fried capers, arugula, 12 year old balsamic – absolutely sensational

Monterey Bay Calamari, roasted pimento pepper, raw tomatillo, tomatillo salsa – the calamari was not the least bit chewy – it was as tender as could be and again the combination of flavors and textures was perfect.

San Diego Uni, Squid Ink Garganelli, red wine, chervil, scallions, little tomatoes – Because the water is warmer in San Diego than Santa Barbara the uni had a terrific “mouth feel.”

American proscuitto on dried fruit walnut bread, Figs, Drake Farms Goat Cheese – another perfect combination

Baby Back Ribs, Peach Barbecue Sauce – who needs to grill at home

Run don’t walk to Milo and Olive and just let Jason cook for you!

The Colonial Wine Bar

We decided a return visit to The Colonial Wine Bar was in order! We got there as soon as it opened. The room is truly lovely.

The bar area

A cozy nook at the far side of the room – a perfect place for a large party and overstuffed chairs by the wine storage area for those who want to be treated like a king or queen!

Amuse bouche of chilled sweet corn soup with butter poached crab, crunchy bacon bits on top

Deviled eggs with pickled jalapeños, smoked paprika, crispy bacon and greens. Unlike most deviled eggs these were not halved but 3/4’s of an egg. The yolk had been mashed with heavy cream and pickled jalapeño. The egg was topped by the bacon and greens.

Dungeness crab crostini with melted fontina cheese topped with watercress and baby flowers

Lamb Meatballs in a Mediterranean sauce, purslane.  The sauce was a take on hollandaise without butter – egg, heavy cream, lemon, salt and pepper. It was topped by shaved feta cheese.

Heirloom tomato salad with burrata cheese, sherry vinaigrette balsamic gastrique, basil – just a summer delight

Grilled summer vegetables with fire roasted corn, zucchini, haricot vert, bacon and heirloom tomato jus

Cavatappi Bolognese Ragu, parmesan cheese

Fried chicken “Po Boy” with harissa aoli, house pickles, romaine lettuce, brioche bun

The fried chicken up close – they were to die for!

I know I am prejudiced about The Colonial Wine Bar but I really think it should be a must try.

French Laundry

French Laundry is always a special experience. We are very lucky in that we have been to The Laundry many times over the years and both the front of the house and the back of the house know what we like – a front-loaded menu with many canapé-type courses. We never look at a menu and just let the chef decide our meal.

What was interesting about this evening at the Laundry, it was like a “party!” Many people feel that the French Laundry is like dining at a temple –  focused diners who speak in hush tones. This was not even close to that. We all were laughing, enjoying meeting each other – a lovely couple from Australia and a Chinese family tops our list and engaging the staff in a lively conversation about food. To say the least it was quite an evening.

As for the food, I will let the photos tell the story.

Champagne to start


Salmon Cornets

New Holder for the Cornets

Dungeness Crab Arancini

SOUP – First the Iberico Ham Foam and Korean Chili is presented

Then the Brentwood Corn Veloute is added table side

White Wine

Santa Barbara Uni, Sea Beans, Lychee Granite, Royal Oscetra Caviar

Island Creek Oyster, Tokyo Turnip, Champagne Gelee, Royal Oscetra Caaviar, Edible Gold leaf

Tartare of Pacific Kanpachi, Hass Avocado, Pink Lady Apple, Squash Blossom, Cucumber and Ginger “Aigre-Doux”

Hen Egg Custard with a Ragout of Perigord Truffles

Salad of Hawaiian Hearts Of Peach Palm, Santa Rosa Plums, Black Sesame Nougatine (the crumble), Spruce Tips, Mizuna and Yuzu-Tofu Emulsion – the hearts of palm were presented 3 ways – baton, ring and diced

Red Wine

Sauteed  (pan-fried with skin on) Fillet of Mediterranean Lubina, Brentwood Corn Pudding Puree, Popcorn Crust (the popcorn had been ground up and sprinkled over the pudding), Black Eye Peas and Blackstrap Molasses Gastrique

Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster Tail (the lobster from Ingrid of Maine), Oven-Roasted Pancetta, Globe Artichoke, Picholine Olives, Oven Roasted Tomatoes tossed in French Sea Salt, Greek Basil from French Laundry’s Garden, Spicy Lobster Broth and Foam made with Bird’s Eye Chili from China

Truffles presented

“Campanelle Carbonara” – Guanciale, Dungeness Crab, Jidori Hen Egg, Snap Peas

The finished dish with Shaved Australian Black Truffle – truffle puree was on the bottom and the crab was underneath the yolk

Red Wine

Liberty Farms Pekin Duck, Royal Blenheim Apricot, Broccolini (from The French Laundry Farm), Marcona Almond, Crushed Almonds Puree, Tarragon, Garden Blossoms, Natural Duck Jus


Snake River Farms “Calotte de Boeuf Grillee”, Marble Potatoes, Nantes carrots, Breakfast Radish, Young Fennel, Ice Lettuce and “Sauce Chevreuil ( demi glace that you break with a herb vinaigrette)

“Monte Enebro” ( goat cheese from Spain), Baby Beets, Brooks Cherries, Radicchio, Mustard Seeds, Dijon Mustard

It is our choice not to have sorbet and a parade of desserts.

My husband however does insist on his doughnut holes!

As always a special place with incredible ingredients handled with finesse and served with grace and precisian.


As always I can’t rave enough about Manresa.  Chef David Kinch handles the freshest of ingredients with the greatest finesse. Nothing is on the plate for show. The skill and thoughtfulness of each dish is so evident and points to the fact that Chef Kinch is a supremely talented chef.

I didn’t get a menu so these are from my own notes! Hopefully I didn’t make too many mistakes. Dana, our wonderful server, answered my many, many questions.

Enough to say that every dish was sensational and I will let the photos tell the story. The key to Chef Kinch’s food is that it does tell a story – it is not a collection of dishes – it is like reading your favorite novel with nuances and an unfolding of an incredible food plot.

BYO Champagne

Savory Black Olive Madeline and Roasted Red pepper Petit fore

Garden Beignets filled with aged goat cheese covered with crispy kale

Local Milk (Dainty, Dottie and Nutmeg – Manresa’s cows – yes I ask a lot of questions!) Panna Cotta, Monterey Bay Abalone, Breakfast Radishes, Gelee made from braising liquid of the abalone, sake, soy – the panna cotta was the bottom layer and when mixed with the other ingredients was a sublime combination.

Bread Service (Levain, Olive, Baguette) and Butter churned from Dainty, Dottie and Nutmeg

BYO White Wine

Amberjack sashimi style, Radish (finely julienned), Vinaigrette of Shirodashi

Surf Clams, Meyer Lemon, Seaweed Granite, Savory Granola, Toasted Nuts, Sea Beans, Unripe Green Tomato

“Into the Vegetable Garden” – Shaved turnips, Nasturtium flowers, strawberries, radish, watercress, sorrel, beets, green beans, dehydrated potatoes and chicory root dirt

Soup presented before broth was added

Mediterranean Style Fish Soup, Sorrel, Squash Blossom, Lobster, Quenelle of Saffron Cream, Seafood and saffron broth was then added

BYO Red Wine

Wild King Salmon cured in herbs then warmed with tomatillos, fennel, cultured cream (crème fraiche, buttermilk, goat’s milk whey)

Local Chicken from Fog Line Farms in Santa Cruz, slow egg, morel mushrooms, green shallot leaves, chicken dashi broth.

Napa Valley Lamb (tongue, tenderloin, saddle), compressed cucumber with vinegar, blueberries, dehydrated black olive, juniper dust, smear of yogurt, blueberry jus

Garden Tea – assorted mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, anise hyssop, chamomile leaves

Tea in the cup

BYO Dessert Wine

Verjus Sorbet, Anise hyssop, assorted berries, kefir yogurt, pink peppercorn mousse, , golden raspberry, cape gooseberry, macaroon sticks

Apricots with puffed rice, apricot sorbet, apricot fudge fried moshi ball

“Celebration” Cake

It just doesn’t get better than this – rush not walk to Manresa for an incredible experience.