Manresa Los Gatos

Instead of going on a trip for our 3rd wedding anniversary we chose to have dinner at Manresa, a well established (2 Michelin¬†star) restaurant in Los Gatos. It has had a resurgence of popularity because the owner/chef David Kinch destroyed Bobby Flay in a recent Iron Chef “cabbage” battle. This was our first visit to Manresa. We had heard rave reviews from friends for years but the expensive price tag had always kept us away. We finally decided to bite the bullet and go.

As you enter the restaurant there is a little window into the kitchen. We peeked in and there was Chef Kinch working away. It was cool to see him. We then approached the Ma√ģtre d’ and requested outside seating because it was a beautiful evening. He informed us that their butane delivery had not come for the heat lamps so they were only seating inside, which was fine with us. He then stepped away for a moment and returned to tell us that he would seat us outside if we wanted so we had a private dining experience on their outdoor patio. Our reservation was at 6:30pm and the restaurant was already half full. As we walked through the room we could see some jealous glares.

There were only two options on the menu: ¬†a 4 course meal of your choice for $95/per person or the chefs tasting menu for $160/per person. We went all out and had the tasting menu so we didn’t have to make any decisions. You are not told what will be included only that you’ll start at the sea (usually raw), proceed to the garden, return to the sea, move to proteins and end with dessert.

Our 14 course dinner included the following (each dish had a super fancy description but after 3+ glasses of wine each we couldn’t remember the details):

Amuse bouche

  • roasted red pepper jellies (like a candy gum drop) & mini olive madeleines
  • mint & lavender lemon granita
  • fried herb balls (we totally missed what this was but it tasted wonderful)
  • egg w/ maple syrup and chives

To the Sea

  • calamari (raw) with a wasabi sauce

To the Garden

  • mix of potatoes and mushrooms with a butter foam
  • vegetable garden salad <potatoes,carrot,squash,cucumber,greens,edible flowers,edible dirt> with vegy stock foam (the edible dirt tasted like dirt)

Back to the Sea

  • flounder with chanterelle mushrooms and beef bone marrow consomme (our favorite dish!!!)

Proteins

  • chicken confit with a seaweed broth (a little salty)
  • squab with beets and Foie Gras foam
  • lamb with peas, fig sauce and indian curry mustard

Dessert

  • strawberries with vanilla yogurt and strawberry consomme
  • chocolate mouse cake with olive oil ice cream
  • strawberry jellies & mini chocolate madeleines
Manresa’s biodynamic vegetables are grown exclusively for Manresa at Cynthia Sandberg’s Love Apple Farm in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains and harvested in the morning for the evening menu.

It may sound like¬† a lot of food but each course was only 2-3 bites. When we were done we were full not stuffed. Check out the slide show — by dessert it was too dark for my cell phone to take pics (sorry)

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With our meal we started off with glasses of a sparkling Riesling then polished off a 2002 bottle of Joseph Phelps Insignia (magical). We brought this from home and the somellier was very nice to decant and serve it to us throughout the night. All the servers we had (about 6) were top notch. One thing we noticed that was unusual was for each course they gave us a new fork, knife and spoon whether we used them or not. After two courses we said that it was not necessary to clear them but we were told with a smile “oh, yes it absolutely is.” so we just went with it. I feel sorry for the dishwashers!

Manresa has now overtaken Picasso as our most expensive meal but well worth the expense. We l-o-v-e-d the food and ambiance. Mike said he would return annually for our anniversary. We will see…

Rating:
Website: http://www.manresarestaurant.com/

Crimson

Crimson is hidden in the corner of a strip mall on Los Gatos Blvd. It’s really not a great location but worth the time to find. As soon as you walk in you will know why the restaurant is named Crimson. Inside it is covered head to toe in red decor. My favorite being the beautiful fresh red rose at each table. Crimson is a Green Certified restaurant serving ingredients direct from local farmers. We arrived on Tuesday July 8 for their weekly $30, 3-course prix fixe menu. We had heard about it over a year ago and we finally decided to go. After looking at the menu Mike and I ordered one of everything so we could try it all.

Prix Fixe Menu – July 8, 2008

The Starters
– Black Mission Fig and Charentais Melon Salad with Gorgonzola, Candied Walnuts, and Aged Balsamic Vinegar
– Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad, with Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, Garden Basil and Lemon Oil
These both were wonderful. I especially liked the warm sweet figs. I’ve never had figs prepared like this before.
The Main Courses
– Herb and Dijon Mustard Marinated Prime Rib with Cabernet Au Jus and Garlic Mash
– Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon with Delta Asparagus, Jasmine Rice, and Organic Lemon Butter
Again, two delightful and hearty dishes. Just because this is a Prix fixe doesn’t mean small portions. We both had to get doggie bags. We never have to do that…

The Desserts
– Mixed Summer Berry Bread Pudding
– Chocolate Mousse with Fresh Berry Sauce
The mousse was silky and rich. The bread pudding was a little doughy — the only miss for the night. 5 out of 6 dishes were on point.

With the economy as it is it’s getting harder to justify all our lavish dinners out. This $30 Tuesday is one of the best deals in town!

Tasty Tip: don’t forget to fill out the form that comes with your bill to get on the weekly email list.

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Mr. Pickles

How could I not know about Mr. Pickles? I am in downtown Los Gatos at least once a week and I have never seen this little sandwich shop. I read a review on Yelp and decided to seek it out. It is located on a small side street across from the Wells Fargo bank. When we arrived on the 4th of July around 1pm there was a line out the door. I guess I’m the only one in LG not familiar with this place. They feature over 20 specialty sandwiches that are huge, fresh and tasty. Mike and I shared “The Abbott” which has turkey,avocado and bacon with a bag of dirty chips and were full for hours. If you are in need of a great sando, go see Mr. Pickles.

FYI- If you’re in Los Gatos and you see a man in a pickle suit don’t be scared it’s just Mr. Pickles.

Address:151 N Santa Cruz Ave

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Cin-Cin Restaurant and Winebar

On a whim Mike and I decided to check out Cin-Cin, the replacement restaurant for Cafe Marcella in¬†Los Gatos. We were big fans of Cafe Marcella. When Mike and I started dating it was the site of our first night out at a restaurant that didn’t have paper napkins. Cin-Cin has only been open about a month and seems to be doing well. The evening we went they were relatively full. I really like the new look and feel. It has a very eco friendly vibe from the wicker-like chairs to the bamboo walls and floors. They also tout an organic menu. It took some time for us to go through the menu as it is pretty extensive. It’s filled with wine by the glass, wine flights, beer, specialty cocktails, appetizers, small plates, large plates and sides. Our server did a good job of explaining the majority of the menu items; I guess a new restaurant feels the need to do that. The thing that stood out to Mike and I were the wine flight options. See those three large glasses above… those were $9 TOTAL! Even if only two out of the three were any good the price was unbelievable. Mike was further impressed that the flight glasses came labeled. Usually glasses are dropped in front of you and you have to try to remember what is what. We started our meal with the mushroom empanadas with truffle oil. I found them to be lacking in flavor. For the main course I chose the braised lamb shoulder with mint fava bean puree and fingerling potatoes (is it me or is everyone serving fava beans these days?). Mike had the pan seared salmon with fingerling potatoes and fennel confit. We both enjoyed these dishes, the lamb was melt-in-your-mouth tender. To finish things off we had the cheesecake beignets AND the coconut sorbet. The beignets came with a honey/hazelnut dip and a milk chocolate dip. Both desserts were fantastic, my only complaint was that there were 3 beignets. I have a pet peeve about receiving servings in uneven numbers. The chef should recognize that most likely there is going to be an even number of people at a table so give 2 or 4 not 3. I dislike having to cut things in half to share (by the way this was also the case with our empanadas).

Overall the food was good but nothing spectacular. I can definitely see myself dropping in for wine and dessert or to share some small plates with a group of friends. There are a number of large tables as well as a lounge like area with low couches. Cin-Cin seems like a prime location for a gathering.

Rating:
Website: http://www.cincinwinebar.com/


Lou’s Coffee Shop

Last weekend it was again time to get my benedict on so Mike and I ventured out at 8:30am to Lou’s coffee shop in Los Gatos. When we arrived to the old school diner it was surprisingly empty. Usually in LG you have to be up at the crack of dawn to get seated in any bfast joint. By 9:15am the place was fairly full.

You know what I ordered and Mike chose one of the specials: coconut and banana waffle with¬†macadamia nuts and raspberry syrup. He must of enjoyed it because thinking back he didn’t even offer me a bite. He devoured the whole thing. My eggs benedict was perfection. Ladies and gents, Lou’s has just bounced to the top of my benedict list. The best part was the sauce. It didn’t taste like a hollandaise but a bearnaise!! I freaking love bearnaise!! Although you can’t see it, the ham was also delicious. The cook had thrown it on the griddle so it had some crusty carmelization. Hands down #1.

The current standings of the benedicts of the Bay:
1. Lou’s Coffee Shop (Los Gatos)
2. The Diner of Los Gatos (Los Gatos)
3. The Southern Kitchen (Los Gatos)
4. The Los Gatos Cafe (Los Gatos)
5. Bill’s Cafe (Willow Glen)
6. Sweet Pea’s (Los Gatos)

FYI- I read a newspaper article from 1998 that said Lou’s and the Diner were owned by the same family. I don’t know if that is still true but they both¬†have mastered the benedict!

Address: 15691 Los Gatos Blvd

Southern Kitchen in Los Gatos

Have you ever seen the mob of people on a Saturday or Sunday morning on the corner of Main & Maple in LG?

Well, they are waiting for a table at the Southern Kitchen, another small diner in Los Gatos. I had to venture in to see what all the fuss was about.

I of course had the eggs benedict. Only seemed right. I also got a side of grits since I rarely see grits on a menu. The grits were nothing like grandma used to make. They were thick and creamy with a mashed potato like consistency. All in all good food, friendly staff and great coffee. I’ll be back.

Address: 27 E Main St

Current ranking of the benedicts of the Bay:

1. The Diner of Los Gatos (Los Gatos)
2. The Southern Kitchen (Los Gatos)
3. The Los Gatos Cafe (Los Gatos)
4. Bill’s Cafe (Willow Glen)
5. Sweet Pea’s (Los Gatos)

Other places I plan to visit to get my benedict on…

  • Gilley’s Coffee Shoppe (Los Gatos)
  • Lou’s (Los Gatos)
  • Little Amsterdam (Saratoga)

Any other recommendations? Leave a comment!

Restaurant James Randall

James Randall is another treasure in Los Gatos. Mike and I went for our first time last weekend. When you walk in you will feel as though you stepped into your parent’s living room. It’s a very small restaurant, dimly lit with candles and a fireplace. This evening the place was filled to capacity (30 people max). james randall thumbWe took our seats and were handed the concise menu. Don’t expect more than 6 main entrees to choose from per night. We began with a 5 spice Ahi tuna stack which consisted of fresh spicy tuna, sliced avocado and mixed greens sandwiched in-between circular won ton crisps. When dipped in the accompanying wasabi mayo dressing it was a little party in your mouth. It was simply delectable. Things started off with a bang and only got better. For the main course I chose the double pork chop with red cabbage and maple jus. It came with a side of crisp, buttery spatzle like pasta. Everything was cooked perfectly and had really great flavors. Mike picked the flank steak that came with green beans, mashed potatoes and a chipolte bbq sauce. He practically licked his plate clean. Now onto dessert…you didn’t think we would skip this did you? We chose the cheesecake with blueberries. It was pleasing but nothing special. What impressed us more is that they served french-press coffee. Each of us were given our own individual press…so good! French pressed coffee is sublime. As the evening came to an end Mike said, and I quote “This is my new favorite place in Los Gatos!” Now that’s a huge achievement. I don’t know if I would rank it at the very top of my list but it came close. We will definitely come back.

Tip: Mon-Thurs they have a 3 course prix fixe menu for $40 per person! For all you wine lovers james randall offers 5 or 8oz pours per glass. We went with the 8oz which comes in a personal carafe and gives you about a glass and a half. Nice option that saves you money.

james randall logo
Rating: drumstick ratingdrumstick ratingdrumstick rating
Website: http://www.restaurantjamesrandall.com/

Restaurant James Randall on Urbanspoon

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