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Manresa tasting menu report

eel | Nov 13, 200507:09 PM

My dining companion and I celebrated a birthday with the tasting menu at Manresa last night. A good experience.

Tiny olive madeleine and red bell pepper gelee
Citrus and jasmine tea jelly
Chestnut-foie gras croquette
Raw oyster with urchin jelly
Soft boiled egg with sherry vinegar, maple syrup, and cream

Savory courses:
Foie mouse topped with broccoli puree
Raw striped jack with olive oil
Salt grilled pike mackerel on a bed of squid with garlic puree
Cod with butter and trout roe
Abalone with pig’s trotters
Capon with back trumpet mushrooms
Braised lamb shoulder with parmigiano risotto

Tiny waffle with maple ice cream
Chocolate marquis with coffee cream

Dessert amuses:
Citrus and rose petal jelly
Tiny chocolate madeleine and strawberry gelee


We loved the way the matching amuses book-ended the meals. The madeleines and gelees were great. The citrus with jellies were palate-refreshing and interesting but slightly marred by citrus segments with too much tough membrane attached. That kind of spoiled the mouth-feel.

The chestnut-foie croquette was amazing—a fried marble-sized nugget that when popped into your mouth exploded with melted foie. We could have eaten half a dozen of these little beauties.

The soft boiled egg was also pretty cool. After my raw eggs experience at Campton Place, I was a bit egg shy, but Manresa’s made the egg my friend again. The shell was filled with layers of soft warm egg, cool cream, sweet maple, and sour vinegar. Each tiny spoonful was slightly different as the elements mixed into each other. Exciting.

Of the savory courses, we far preferred the non-fish ones. Loved the brown butter abalone and pig’s trotters (I’m not counting that as a fish course). The capon was one of the best fowl in memory—sweet moist flesh contrasting with the truffle-y mushrooms. Really wow. The lamb and risotto was perfect and luscious, just not big enough.

Desserts were not particuarly memorable, except that the chocolate marquis had an intensely salty layer, which I liked.

General observations:

For every course, my dining companion and I were served exactly the same item. This was the first time I’ve encountered that from a tasting menu and it was a bit of a let-down. When presented with different items, we share them, which means upwards of 20 different tastes usually. Next time I’ll ask about that, but didn’t think to do so.

I also would have liked a bit more variety in the courses. Each primarily consisted of small amounts of protein with minimal accompaniment. Other than the broccoli puree and the mushrooms with the capon, there was little in the way of vegetables. I would have liked a soup or salad course instead of one of the fishes, and/or more accompaniments. For example, the risotto that came with the lamb was exquisite but a tiny portion—just a scant couple of spoonfuls. Twise as much would have been so very welcome. The bread on the table was Acme and very good. I usually don’t eat the bread during a tasting menu for fear of filling up, but was glad to have it this time. As it was, we left the table barely full. Not that I want to be uncomfortably stuffed, but for an event dinner, kinda stuffed is good.

The wine parings were good, but repetitive in the same way that the courses were repetitive, i.e., 4 whites in a row with the fish dishes (including 2 rieslings in a row).

One little glitch was that the wine pairings started with the first official course, so we went through 5 very slowly paced amuses without wine. I really wanted some by the chestnut-foie croquette, but didn’t know when the first course wine would come. Not the fault of the server, just a glitch. But next time I’d order a glass of something at the very beginning to tide me over. Also, I’d chose my own four courses rather than do the tasting menu next time. We saw and smelled many of the other menu items from the tables around us (which were a bit too close)—there’s a lot to look forward to.

The room is warm and beautiful in an understated way; comfortable. The service adequate. They presented a birthday card signed by the staff, which was sweet.

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