27 April 2009

Can't Pronounce it but it Eats Well! Dining at Aubergine

This week was amazing for eating out. I was nervous because this place is pricey and it suggested that I wear a jacket. Well all I had was a suit and I found at Sardine Factory I was the only one in a suit. Happily most men at Aubergine wore at least blazers and many wore suits. This is the outside of the hotel. Very nice.

So I was the first one patron to arrive for the night. This room is the entire restaurant. Very cozy. What was cool is the Maitre'd knew my name before I said anything. I guess I was the only one that night with a 1 person reservation. Anyway, I thought it was cool. Before long plenty of diners filled the room. Then in walked the Chef.
Cristophe Grosjean is the Executive Chef here. It is always comforting to see the Chef actually there. So I was inspired to get the 8-course Chef's Tasting Menu which means: 1-The Chef had carte blanche to pick my courses as he saw fit and 2-all my courses were not just overseen but cooked personally by Chef Grosjean. That's a serious bonus. Before we get to the food let me say that the service was amazing. I had a server for my water, a server that made sure I never ran out of bread and my main server who wore white gloves. That was kinda neat. Now none of the help was in tux but they all dressed very fine. I think it really enhanced the atmosphere. Also, the help seemed to know a lot of the patrons personally. I don't know who can afford to eat at a place like this on a regular enough basis to ask about the Maitre'd's children but I'd like to be that person. On to the food!
This was my veggie plate. Dipping sauce was good. Not my favorite veggies. I don't even know what most of the vegetables were but they were radishy.
This was my Amuse Bouche. I think that translates to "yummy corn mush." OK so it's meant to jump start your taste buds before your first course arrives. Mission accomplished!

I know what you're thinking. Roy once again has no idea what his dishes are called. Wrong! I got them to print me my menu! So you're about to get all the details! So the above 1st course is Watercress and Sweetneck Oyster with la ratte potato, creme fraiche, and California osetra caviar on seaweed butter brioche. That's a lot of fancy words. Anyway, I'm not the biggest fan of oysters and caviar is too salty/fishy for me. When i slapped it on the bread it was pretty OK. I'm sure for oyster fans it was pretty good. Anyway, it looked pretty!
2nd Course was the Fennel & Crab with rouille, tarragon and dungeness crab bisque. I've been dying for crab so this was perfect. This was the most delicious thing I put in my mouth that night! The crab dissolved in my mouth but I could have drunk a gallon of the broth. Thank you Cristophe!
It's like the Chef was reading my mind. 3rd Course was the Artichoke and Halibut with "pata negra" ham (the thin slice you see that could be used for a water filter!), manilla clam, and paprika. So halibut is my favorite fish. It has such a great flavor. Even the artichoke was good (read: I don't like artichoke). It was very tender. It just melted on my tongue.
Course the 4th! This is my Potato and Duck with a potato and truffle ravioli, wild spring onions, "vinaigrette d'abat," and foie gras. This duck was much better than the duck I had at Pacific's Edge (which was also good). Delicious sauce, delicious ravioli. The potato slices on top: I can't tell if they were really sliced and fired or just potato chips. Either way it worked.
5th Course and the 2nd best of the night. This was the Mustard and Veal with morel, crushed potato, and shallots. Those morels (I think they are a type of mushroom) were amazing and the veal was so darn good! Very tender and the sauce was radical. By the way, I don't know why my red meat pictures always turn out so dark.
OK so 6th Course was my cheese plate with a raisin bread. I was told to eat from left to right. I had four cheese with respectively pistachios, macadamias, grape slices and goo. Pretty darn good. I now love grapes and cheese. Who knew?
This is my 7th Course and my first dessert course. It is a Citrus and Yogurt with blood orange coulis, meringue, tangerine sorbet and yogurt panna cotta. Mmm. I call it a parfait! It was really good and the panna cotta was like finding a little cookie treasure in my dessert! Mmm mmm!
Final Course was Raspberry and Chocolate with a dark chocolate tart, raspberries and white chocolate ice cream. This was also very good. Not as good as the dessert I had a Pacific's Edge (read below! Now!) but it was darn good. I appreciate my chocolate a little bitter especially with fruit and it was just right.
And here is my "while you pay for a meal that cost the same as a cheap roundtrip ticket" treat. Cookies, chocolate and marshmallows. All were good but I was leary of the marshmallows. I thought it would be like popping a staypuft in my mouth but they were really soft and coated in some sort of lemon powdered sugar. It was really good. have I said that before? Well it's always really true. Now let's talk about the overall experience. This was the second best meal of my life. The food I ate at Chef Mavro's last year in Hawaii was just a little better. The filet and scallops I ate at Mavro's are the 2 best pieces of food ever to enter my mouth. But this meal was very comparable. What set this place apart is how it felt so refined and yet not uptight. It was absolutely delightful. This could set it apart as the best dining experience of my life. Thank you Chef Grosjean! I wish I could afford to come back!
Oh! This is when I went to Willy's Smokehouse and pigged out on appetizers during $4 appetizer night. I was stuffed and it only put me out $15. Fine choice.


Chapman Family said...

Oh my heavens. Some of that stuff sounds so disgusting, but I'm glad you can appreciate it. The BBQ sounds better to me. :)

Swint said...

You are on a roll! You should write a book on Monterey/Carmel eats. It is hilarious that you spent an arm and a leg for those small portion of foods then 15 bucks to stuff yourself like a pig. But I understand. It would be fun to go to a restaurant like that once in my life.