Tuesday, November 11, 2008

L'Auberge Carmel

I began my culinary vacation Wednesday night with dinner at a restaurant named L'Auberge Carmel.

The restaurant is part of a hotel that started back in 1929. The dining room is quite small and intimate, with about 10 tables. I was sitting beneath the lighting next to the painting on the left.

Table Setting

I chose chef Christophe Grosjean's tasting menu with a request: a separate dessert tasting menu by pastry chef Ron Mendoza (formerly of Sona and French Laundry). Even though I met Ron previously, I never tasted his pastry creations. Here is my opportunity.

Gougeres ; Endives & Radishes with Olive Tapenade ; Bread Service

Amuse Bouche ; Cucumber & Sea Urchin

The presentation of the sea urchin is very eye-appealing, ehh?

Little Gem & Red Abalone ; Truffle & Eggs

One can't get enough of that delicious abalone with the beautiful chanterelles.
And the truffle & eggs course! With the wine pairing, that was my favorite dish of the evening.

Butternut Squash & Duck ; Carrots & Natural Beef

You can't go wrong with adding a piece of sauteed foie gras to the duck (or was it squab?).
The beef with oxtail and bone marrow foam ended the savory chapter of the dinner very well.

Wines served ... by the glass, mind you

Cheese Course (Bleu de Bocage, Tomme Brulee, Fourme d'Ambert (Roquefort), Epoisse) ;
Tea Service (Fresh Mint)

The selected cheeses were quite familiar to me. Nevertheless, they were very good to this rat.
Not among the tea selections in the box, the mention of fresh mint really appealed to me that evening.

Coconut & Passion Fruit ; Apples & Caramel ; Milk Chocolate & Shiso Sorbet

The acidity from the added lemongrass soy and the passion fruit counteracted the sweetness of the coconut.

The apples & caramel dessert was my favorite. Definitely appropriate for the autumn season.

Using milk chocolate instead of dark is fine. I'll try not to be aristocratic about it. And the shiso sorbet is a nice change from the ubiquitous yuzu.

Persimmon & Chocolate ; Mignardises

Warm chocolate mousse with cardamom ice cream and persimmon makes a fitting conclusion to this wonderful tasting menu.

I got to meet chef Christophe Grosjean and pastry chef Ron Mendoza. I toured the kitchen which looked similiar to one from another restaurant I frequent. The meal was wonderfully delicious. The desserts, overall, were quite good. They had variety while reflecting the proper seasonality. The decor was small and intimate. I was treated very well. Admittedly, I was pondering whether L'Auberge Carmel would get a Michelin star in the near future. Regardless, I wouldn't mind coming back and dining at this restaurant again.

L’Auberge Carmel

Monte Verde at Seventh

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921

(831) 624-8578