We went to Manresa by chef David Kinch. This restaurant has held two Michelin stars for five years.
It was elegant without being stiffly formal. The staff was attentive and smoothly choreographed in their movements, showing professional skill and attention to detail. Yet quite friendly and eager to assist.
We opted for the tasting menu... And, oh, what a meal! 14 different dishes. It would make Remy proud. :D
The meal began with a savory amuse bouche: red pepper (capsicum) jellies and black olive madeleines. An excellent way to start!
Garden vegetable beignet topped with crispy kale and grated chevre. It was a firm, dry, and nutty goat cheese as a little accent. The kale was crisp and dry, a new preparation to me. The beignet’s vegetable filling was soft and a touch creamy, reminiscent of pesto.
Abalone and radish in aspic over panna cotta. This was an interesting dish. I rather like abalone, I must say. But the aspic was over-salted and I felt the radish got lost. This was one of the disappointing ones, in part because it seemed so close.
Diver scallops with sour orange marmalade and macadamia cream. This was a surprisingly good dish, considering I’m not normally too fond of marmalade or macadamia. The flavors played off the scallop nicely and created a cohesive dish. The puffed grains were a cool textural element.
Herring with roe in porcini sauce. This was probably my favorite dish of the night for flavor and aroma. The grilled fish was brought out unsauced and that warm porcini cream was poured at the table, carrying the smell of the fish with it. The mushroom wonderfully complemented the concentrated sea flavors. Creamy with a bit of crunch and a hint of green. Absolutely terrific!
Garden salad, including beet, flowers, and herbs. There was a foam (cucumber?) and purée of nasturtiums, which added a sharp and spicy edge. A good blend and the different degrees of processing made for a curious little interplay, almost replacing dressing.
Black cod with brassicas (greens of the cruciform and mustard families) and anchovies. In this case it looked like primarily brussels sprout leaves, cabbage, and broccoli. The greens had amazing body to them; I confess, I’m not sure how they were prepared -- possibly blanched then quickly sautéed in oil? The fish was sous vide or very delicately poached and had little other than its natural flavor. A pleasant dish that wasn’t overly fancy.
Shellfish and matsutake mushroom soup. The shellfish appeared to primarily be mussels which is fine with me -- they’re my favorite apart from crab. The broth had deep flavor yet was clear and shiny, marking careful preparation. The greens still had a fresh note so were likely added as the portions were served up. Lovely, fresh, classic.
Boudin noir (a variety of blood sausage) with popped buckwheat and (underneath) stewed apples. This dish was eye-opening and the most surprising of the dinner, surely. I’d not had blood sausage -- less due to aversion and more to not encountering it much. The presentation and combination of elements was so unusual that it really made me think. The texture combination of firm chewy sausage (it’s somewhat like a dry aged pepperoni), light and crunchy puffed grain, and mushy fruity apple was excellent and stimulating.
Slow-roasted duck with blood orange and beets. Excellently prepared and delicious. I’m sure I’ll sound pretentious but I found the combination a bit predictable. Still, can’t claim I didn’t finish it all!
Champagne gelée, granny smith apple slices, with gin and juniper. Due to my intolerance of alcohol, I couldn’t eat this one beyond sampling the apple. But I’m told it was good.
Chestnut cake, brown butter ice cream, and sour red currant sauce. Marvelous dessert! The cake was rich and thick, almost like a bread pudding. The ice cream had a light, pleasant flavor. I particularly appreciated the currant, an ingredient I like but don’t see very often, which set the balance of sweet and sour on the plate.
Finally, the closing two: chocolate cordials along with cocoa madeleines and strawberry jellies to mirror the opening. All quite good. And, (relatively) simply though it is, the strawberry jelly was probably my favorite of the bunch. A lovely finish!
LINK: photo album with larger pics.