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Melanie Wong | May 24, 202011:55 PM    

Aubergine, the Michelin one-star restaurant within L'Auberge Carmel has been closed during the Coronavirus crisis. Then, as noted here, https://www.chowhound.com/post/meals-..., the restaurant began the "Weekends To Go" program last month for meal pick-up on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant directs 50% of the proceeds and 100% of the gratuity to assist staff members who are not able to work at this time.

The quirky thing though is that the restaurant's platform is rather Brigadoon-like. The menu is posted at noon on Tuesdays, then vanishes after the Thursday deadline for ordering passes. And the social media pages were not updated for a month, so the program would appear as if it were discontinued. This is the url for ordering but it's disabled until the weekly menu is posted again. A link has now been added to the Instagram page and remains there.

Even the mention on the restaurant's website is edited out each week, causing some friends to doubt my veracity (sanity?). So here's the screenshot as evidence that I did not make this up.

But the real proof is in the eating. Last weekend friends and I ordered both the meated and vegetarian weekly prix fixe to share. The entrance of L'Auberge is propped open for contactless pick-up

In contrast to the rickety folding tables that some restaurants use to stage pick-up of take-out orders, Aubergine has this lovely reception counter in the doorway for the transaction. And the hospitality staff were happy to oblige when I requested a print-out of the menu since it had vanished from the web and was not noted in my payment confirmation. Even for take-out, there is still a sense that one is dealing with a Michelin-starred establishment.

The meals are provided chilled with instructions for heating. The vegetarian menu, $55, included Spiced roasted carrots grain salad, Spring vegetable pot pie, and Chandler strawberry shortcake.

The grain salad, made with quinoa, surprised us with how tasty it was. The creamy avocado contrasted with the pop of the quinoa, and the seasoning was quite assertive. The pot pie had a classic woven Americana cobbler short crust but I'd ding it for including gray, overcooked broccoli in the vegetable medley. Weakest part of the vegetarian offering was the Cheddar-broccoli soup I'd added from the ala carte menu that was dominated by cumin and hard, undercooked broccoli florets.

The meated menu, $65, included Donburi of braised short rib; Shiso leaves, radish and yuzu kosho; rice, grilled scallion and toasted sesame; and Chandler strawberry shortcake. So I was surprised to open the lid of the compostable container back at the house to find butter lettuce leaves instead of shiso. But perhaps this made it easier to wrap and eat the components though I would have enjoyed the stronger flavor of shiso. Besides daikon radish, the root vegetables included multi-colored sweet carrots. The saucing was quite delectable for seasoning each bundle.

Both menus included the strawberry shortcake. Rather low on strawberries and heavy on the thick whipped cream, still nicely done.

The weekly menu also offered a lobster roll kit, freshly shucked oysters, or a kit for roasting a chicken at home.

Wine is available for sale as well. The ordering platform worked easily on desktop using Firefox until I needed to sign for the credit card charge and the field would not respond to my trackpad. So I re-entered my order on the mobile version with no problems completing the transaction.

If I were closer, I'd be inclined to try the lobster roll kit another time. While not a perfect showing, I'd order take-out from Auberge again and will be keeping an eye on the weekly offerings when I return to the area.

Monte Verde at Seventh
Carmel, California, 93921
831 624 8578

Aubergine the restaurant at L'Auberge Carmel
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