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Tropica Restaurant

This Tropica Restaurant image ©Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Kaanapali

For our one special dinner out in Maui we decided to eat at Tropica, our hotel restaurant because it was outdoors overlooking the beach and had a lovely prix fixe menu. We were seated at a romantic table with a fantastic view of the water 20 minutes before sunset.

We decided to start the night off with cocktails. Not something we usually do but it was early and we wanted to take in the scene. I chose a cocotini (like a coconut martini) which rocked my world. I can’t even remember what Mike had because we were all about the cocotini! You gotta try one.

view from our table

After our drinks we proceeded to order the 3 course tasting menu with wine pairings, which was very reasonably priced for Maui.

First course:

Lobster Chowder - tabasco butter, chives, smoked bacon. Served with Sonoma Curter Chardonnay, 2007, Russian River Ranches

Pohaku Seared Beef - prime flatiron steak served on a hot cooking stone, ponzu, kula onion confit. Served with Charles Smith, "The Velvet Devil" merlot, 2007, Columbia Valley, Washington

I chose the soup which was creamy and rich and had lobster so I was super happy. Mike’s steak arrived sizzlin’ … be sure to take cover with a napkin because oil and beef juice flies everywhere. Mike loved the beef even though he had to ¬†“shout out” his shirt when we got home.

Mains:

Oriental Mushroom Linguini - grilled tiger shrimp, hamakua hon shimeji mushrooms, asparagus, mushroom sake broth. Serves with Lioco Chardonnay, 2007, Sonoma

Ahi - charboiled to medium rare, roasted tomato cous cous, sea beans, mushrooms, opal basil reduction. Served with Cartlidge & Browne, 08 Pinot, CA

My pasta was delicious with giant plump shrimp in a light tasty broth. Mike’s tuna was cooked perfectly and he cleaned his plate.

Dessert:

Green Tea Creme Brulee- grilled pineapple, berries, vanilla anglaise

Pineapple Fritters -fresh pineapple-apple banana donuts, raspberry, coconut

By the time dessert arrived I was stuffed to the gills and buzzed (by the way, the wine pairings were right on point). I could barely eat another morsel which was good because dessert was the weakest course of the night. The creme brulee was pretty good but the fritters were just okay with not much flavor. It did not damper the meal though (for the price we paid it was like the dessert was free anyway). We left very satisfied and would definitely return.

Note: The 3 course tasting menu is available ONLY from 5-6 pm and 8:30-9:30pm ($33/person or $43 with wine) Wednesdays РSundays. Make a reservation!

Rating:

Website: http://www.westinmaui.com/dining/tropica/

Tropica Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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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/

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