Manresa Restaurant

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Starting the year off a little decadent and possibly setting the tone of enjoying more of life's guilty pleasures in 2013.  Manresa sits in the quiet suburb of Los Gatos, but even though its far away from any big city, it still received a much deserving two Michelin star rating.
Two tasting menus are offered:  chef's tasting and the seasonal.  The seasonal Early Winter Garden tasting was my more obvious and splurgeworthy choice with its freshly seasonal offerings and a larger 13 course tasting menu.

Petit fours of red pepper gelee and olive oil madeleine.  The first bite of the gelee is a ginormous burst of red pepper flavor, but it was followed by a subtle sweetness.  The olive oil madeleines were so adorably sized as if they were made for children's tea parties.  The slightly crunchy crust gave way to a richer, denser flavor and texture.
A single oyster with a touch of lemon and crunchy kohlrabi choucroute was probably the single best dish of the night.  The briny oyster paired beautifully with the crunchy pieces of kohlrabi.

A milk panna cotta gave a smooth jelly texture that was flecked with bits of crunch from the thinly sliced radish and chewy bits of the fresh abalone.  Another favorite dish of mine from this meal.

While its doesn't have Joel Rubuchon's magnificent bread cart (see post HERE), the bread service at Manresa does have some tasty bread choices.  From left; olive oil bread, brioche.  The best of the modest bread service by far was the olive oil bread.  It's small size gave you a bit of crust in every bite.
The night seemed to be a theme of all things jelly.  A generous portion of shredded crab meat mixed into a roast chicken jelly and topped with a dollop of avocado.  Separately each component was nothing to gawk over, but once mixed it gave a nice balance of salty and sweet.

Roasted brussel sprout leaves were lightly sprinkled on top of the braised chestnut and anchovy mixture that hid underneath.  Not a huge fan of anchovies, I was surprised by the subtle creamy taste.

The crispy baguette was the favorite of the two in this second helping of bread.

A supplemental dish that I couldn't pass up, especially when the words black truffle and slow cooked egg were used to describe the dish.  A perfectly slow cooked runny egg sat nestled onto of little parmesan pieces that resembled grains of rice.  I was a little surprised to see the black truffles as julienned pieces than the petal type slices that I love.  Still the earthy smell and taste of the truffles gave a nice touch to each creamy spoonful.

A playful presentation of fresh greens was dropped at the table with nothing more than "into the vegetable garden".  Leafy greens and crunchy root vegetables with a sprinkling of "dirt" made from dehydrated potato, chicory root, and almond mill.

A "winter tidal pool" of Monterrey Bay abalone, seasonal masutake mushrooms, and seaweed served in a dashi broth.  Savory and comforting, its Japanese influence reminded me similar soups I've had at Kaygetsu.
Popped buckwheat that resembles popcorn kernels were mixed with celery root, and apple.  Although it wasn't terrible, it was probably my least favorite dish of the meal.
Perfectly pink and succulent cooked duck with a blood orange sauce.  Juicy with a nice layer of duck fat between the meat and skin.
A bite into the fromage blanc was like you were eating the richest, thickest cheesecake.  Delish.  The toasted pumpkin seeds gave the creamy dessert a nice contrasting texture.

Two is always better than one, especially when it comes to desserts.  The ultra decadent chestnut crepe cake shed the most beautiful layers when eaten.  Between the cake, the cassis and brown butter sauce, and the brown sugar ice cream it was hard to pick which component on this dessert was my favorite.  
Coming around full circle, the dinner was ended on sweet notes from a chocolate madeleine and a cherry gelee.

As with many Michelin starred restaurants, Manresa sends you home with a little treat for breakfast to remind you of the amazing dinner you had the night before.  The cranberry and pistachio brioche was soft and fluffy with big, juicy cranberries that left a sweet, but tart aftertaste.  

Address:                    Manresa Restaurant
                                   320 Village Ln
                                   Los Gatos, CA
Type:                         American

Popular chomps:       chef's tasting
                                   seasonal tasting 

Chomp worthy:          seasonal tasting      

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