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What to get at Manresa?

Anybody been there since the chef change? I will be trying it for the first time, what is good to order if we have the courses, or is the tasting menu the best way to go and worth the extra cost?

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  1. There isn't so much of a huge chef change - Kinch is still the head and only chef; it is just his main underling who is different so there is no doubt that the menu hasn't changed. The return of James Syhabout won't change anything.

    Go for the tasting menu.

    1. I was there recently and had the tasting menu. I was dissappointed and wished I had ordered from the regular menu.

      In fact, I came to the conclusion that I am pretty much done with tasting menus - I'll think long and hard before I sign on for another 5+ hour kitchen-sink first-child experiences again.

      FYI - At Manresa, the tasting menu is all or nothing, everyone at the table has to order it.

      4 Replies
      1. re: larochelle

        Wow, do you really think you would have enjoyed the regular menu better or you just wished you hadn't spent the extra $?

        1. re: Hungrygirl35

          I KNOW I would have enjoyed the regular menu better - I gave a third of my tasting menu dishes to my husband.

          1. re: larochelle

            Larochelle, were there specific things you gave to your husband that you didn't like? I'll grant that the tasting menu can be an awful lot of food for some people and am wondering specifically what about it didn't appeal to you.

            1. re: Carrie 218

              I'd have to go back and look at the photos to recall the specifics.

              I just thought some dishes had too much going on. Some seemed too rich and heavy for the middle of Summer. Also, I was bummed there was no cheese course when they are known for having a great cheese selection/plate. For what its worth, the three other people I was with shared my lack of enthusiasm to varying degrees. But I also have several other friends who have told me they really loved their tasting menu dinner there.

              It just made me realize that I'm done paying a fortune for a chef's "vision" when I should be able to experience a chef's work ordering any of his dishes.

              But then, I've had many tasting menus including Charlie Trotters and French Laundry - I'm just done with that trend. You may enjoy the "sit-back, let them take charge and be surprised" experience.

      2. The tasting menu is the only way to go, and well worth the extra cost. It is one of the three or four best tasting menus in Northern California. Going to Manresa and not getting the tasting menu is like going to Hog Island Oyster Bar and not getting the oysters. It would be a lost opportunity. I've had five different tasting menu meals there and each has been great.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Paul H

          Thanks! I hate all these totally different opinions, still just as confused as ever.

          1. re: Hungrygirl35

            ha, its the food-obsessed Bay Area, you won't get a consensus on anything or place, particularly this board. Just look at all the dim sum posts.

            I was shocked the first time I read a negative review of one of my favorite places and the glowing reviews of places I wouldn't send my worst enemy.

            Now I've learned who on this board I should listen to and who I can discount.

            For what its worth, there was a food writer at dinner with us at Manresa and she said "This person and this person and these people say we HAVE to get the tasting menu, its the thing here, better than French Laundry."

            So if you're only going once, like the experimation of tasting menus and can afford to do it without regret, go for it!

          2. re: Paul H

            Saying that the tasting menu is "the only way to go" is ridiculous. Some people like long tasting menus and others don't. It's the same food on the regular menu and tasting menu, but different quantities and different presentation. The oyster analogy makes no sense.

            It's hard to recommend particular dishes at places like Manresa unless you've been recently - and even then - because of how the menu changes in response to what is seasonally available.

            1. re: mdg

              Tasting menus typically include dishes that are not on the regular menu. Is that not the case at Manresa?

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                That is the case at Manresa. However, for a counter-example, the "a la carte" menu at Coi consists of any four choices from the eleven-course tasting menu. Gary Danko, I believe, has a similar arrangement.

                BTW, I stand by my assertion that the tasting menu is the "only way to go." Manresa is known for the creativity of the tasting menu, just as Hog Island Oysters is known for its oysters. I suspect that Manresa would join Coi and TFL (and Alinea & etc.) in offering nothing but the tasting menu if they were located elsewhere.

                1. re: Paul H

                  To experience Manresa to the fullest and what makes it over the top better than anyone else, is the tasting menu. But if you ordered a la carte, it would still be one of the best restaurants in the Bay Area. You would miss out on those amazing liquid-filled fried croquettes though.

                  I'd take Manresa's a la carte over The Dining Room, Gary Danko, or Mina's 3-way gimmick any day.

                  1. re: Paul H

                    Gary Danko has fixed prices for 3, 4, or 5 courses of your choice.

                    It's common for SF restaurants that would otherwise have to charge over $40 for their entrees to do some variation on that.

              2. re: Paul H

                The tasting menu isn't the *only* way to go. But it sure is a fantastic way to go. I've enjoyed both the tasting and the a la carte menus. In both cases you get the sherry egg so that's a plus. The desserts were better a la carte than off the tasting. The tasting menu though was spectacular. I also agree that it's better than TFL.

              3. OK, we'll do tasting menu. Can't wait!

                1. I know this isn't the answer to your question, but my wife and I went to Manresa a few months ago and were completely underwhelmed. Maybe it was just an off night for the restaurant, but the food was not in the same league as, say, Gary Danko. It was good, but not great considering the prices. And the service was very rushed, the interior a bit drab. In fact, I can't even remember one dish -- which isn't a good sign.

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