Manresa is a legendary 2 Michelin Star restaurant from David Kinch. We were last here about five years ago, so it was time for a re-visit. They recently remodeled and the entire restaurant looks far more modern and classy than in the past.
They focus on local and sustainable ingredients, including many items from Love Apple Farms in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains. Manresa is famous for their multi-course tasting menu where only ingredients are listed on the menu.
A meal can take up to 4 hours, but we asked for a shorter time span of about 2 hours.
Why did we dine here? – To refresh our memories, and to see if all the positive reviews are accurate.
Summary – Manresa serves up innovative dishes with the best ingredients and outstanding service. We did encounter several dishes that could have been better. All in all Manresa should be on the short list of all foodies. A natural comparison would be with French Laundry. We would definitely rank French Laundry higher, due to its higher food quality.
Other restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area that serve up similar cutting edge New American food include Coi, Commis, and Benu.
Insider Tip – Make reservations early. Preorder Arpege Egg. Parking is surprising difficult.
Cuisine – New American
Chef – David Kinch
Location – Downtown Los Gatos
Opened – 2004
Decor, Vibe – Manresa was decorated for the holidays. The holiday lights and tinsel accented the modern restrained decor. Lots of beautiful wood, low slung chairs, and a fairly quiet atmosphere. Mostly well dressed middle age folks were dining.
Their restrooms feature autographed menus from top restaurants around the world including Fat Duck and El Bulli.
Manresa’s Menu features a four-course option ($115), along with a “seasonal and spontaneous” tasting menu ($175). The tasting menu simply lists all the possible ingredients that would be used. It changes monthly.
They had an optional $55 truffle infused course option available. Optional wine pairings available.
Signature Dishes – Arpege Egg, Fresh Vegetable dishes.
Full Manresa image set
Mojito Cocktail ($14) Strong, well balanced, and short.
– Savory Petit Fours – Black Olive Madeleines, with roasted pepper gelee. A hint of the complex combination to come.
– Roquefort Cheese Crackers – Think of high quality cheese it crackers that are rich and short bread like.
– Arpege Egg – Soft cooked egg with Sherry Vinegar and maple syrup. Their classic dish that previously was automatically included, but needs to be ordered ahead of time. Beautiful, delicate, full of rich flavors. Simply excellent.”
– Alternate: Lavender Lemonade with a Mint granita was a mini shot of soda that possessed sweet and savory flavors. The lavender mini bouquet added a fresh scent to the drink.
Five different breads to choose from: Olive, brioche, le pan, multi-grain, mini bun. All were high quality and freshly made, although the multi-grain was too fibery.
Dish 1: Razor Clams with Geoduck and Sprouted lentils, roast chicken gelee – Every bite brought forth a crunchy and chewy sensation. The crisp brown roasted rice add a crisp texture which contrasted with the fresh clams.
Dish 2: Cerviche of Nantucket Bay Scallop, fried green tomatoes, avocado was very good, smooth, not chewy, and possessed very soft subdued flavors.
Dish 3: “Into the Vegetable Garden” – Wow what an interesting and beautiful salad. Everything was super fresh. Grinded beets, warm turnips, edible flowers, almond meal “dirt” made this one memorable dish. This was one of our favorite dishes.
Dish 4: Early winter tide pool with Monterey Bay abalone, local crab, foie gras, porcini mushrooms, puffed rice, chestnut was work of art and technically competent, with some excellent ingredients, but the broth was far too salty.
Dish 5: Coho Salmon with bitter herbs and faux honey was a beautiful dish with wild salmon from an Indian Reservation in Northern California. The raw fish was a tiny piece and proved to be very pure. No wow factor to this dish though. Not much in the way of flavors.
Dish 5 Alternate: Roast suckling porcelet or Pork saddle was an excellent pork belly like dish with crispy skin and fatty meat.
Dish 6: Roast Breast of Duck with persimmon and homemade walnut wine was a tiny bite sized chunk of very rare duck along with some foam. This was a fair dish.
Dish 7: Saddle of Venison from Texas with mushrooms was also served very rare. Chewy with excellent mushroom accompaniment was technically sound but no wow factor again.
Pistachio Cake with pumpkin confit with Fenny bre ice cream included 3 kinds of squash. The cake was microscopic, but the dish ended up being delicious without too much sweetness.
Chocolate and Hazelnut Gendoille mousse with green tomato confit and chrysanthemum ice was very smooth with crunchy notes and savory salty flavors. An interesting combination.
Chocolate Madelines with strawberry pat de feuille were a contrast to the savory ones we had at the beginning of the meal.
Parting Gift of Manresa shortbread cookies and fleur de sel carmel candies.
Service – Manresa had better than excellent service, with elegantly dressed waiters streaming by all the time. They walked in a circular pattern with one hand behind their back. Dishes were served by multiple waiters in full synchronicity. This restaurant has some of the best service around.
Value – Prices are very high, but the service and the food justify it. This is a special occasion restaurant.
Verdict – Manresa met our expectations with solid food and extraordinary service in posh surroundings. There were a few food glitches that prevent it from being at the top, but Manresa is definitely a fixture in the San Francisco Bay Area’s high end food scene.