Inside the Westin St. Francis Hotel, Michael Mina is very different than Aqua. My first impression is it's very loud and cavernous. And everything seem to be natural tones, beige, light green, nothing stands out in terms of décor.
The service was excellent, friendly. But Im not sure if its the high ceiling or the fact that there was a party of 14 seated behind us, there seemed to be a lot of wait staff running around, creating hustle and bustle, not a romantic or serene surrounding.
The menu was a choice of $88 three course, in which you can select from the 1st, 2nd and dessert menus with no restriction. Or you can have the $168 seasonal/chefs tasting menu. All parties would have to order the tasting menu; it cant be just one or a few. Given the great deal the $88 and the control over selection, both my husband and I went for the three-course dinner.
Trio of foi gras with $15 supplement
Trio of Kobe-styled beef rib roast, boneless with $20 supplement
Trio of chocolate desserts
The famous black mussel soufflé with saffron Chardonnay reduction
Trio of black bass
Trio of banana desserts
As you can tell, Mina is VERY found of the trio idea, pretty much 90% of the items on the menu came in trio, and often the trio are then further broken down to sixth, as the dessert did (three solids and three ice cream preparation).
The highlight was definite the starters. His black mussel soufflé did not disappoint, just as it always was at Aqua. The trio of foi gras were also exquisite. Served in sixths, my husband had three roasted/seared hot foil gras preparation and three cold foi gras pate preparation.
For all the trios and sixth, the variations were supposed to be totally different from one another. And they were. Unfortunately, many times we cannot tell what the particular flavor was suppose to be. For example one of the seared foi gras was suppose to be star anise flavored, a strong flavor usually, but we couldnt tell which one it was. That unidentifiable quality seemed to be a problem for my fish, his beef and the banana trios.
The desserts were definitely the weak points. Although, presented flawlessly with individual cups and mini cakes, everything were much too sweet, and one of my banana cake was even on the dry side.
All in all the experience was pleasant. But unfortunately now days it takes a lot to impress us and Michael Mina did not. We probably will not return again.