L'Auberge, Carmel - Underwhelmed!
My wife and I dined at L'Auberge last weekend and were really excited about dining there, but by the end of the evening were second guessing that excitement.
It was my wife's 30th birthday and our 1st wedding anniversay, so we were looking for a memorable evening. I made reservations through OpenTable, and added in the notes to the restaurant that it was a special evening. The night before we dined I recieved a call from the restaurant confirming our reservation and checking if we had any food allergies. The women who called also commented on the fact that it was going to be my wife's birthday and our wedding anniversay. So I left the phone conversation feeling really good about what we were in for the next evening.
When we arrived on Saturday evening there was no one there to greet us. When we were seen, it took them a few moments to figure out we did have a reservation, mind you this is after recieving the phone call the night before. We were seated in the middle of a banquet at a small two top, a little disapointing, but considering how small the place is (twelve tables) it was understandable. We were quickly presented our menus and told how the ordering process works, but we weren't asked if we wanted a drink, again we were out to celebrate. When I finally requested a bottle of Champagne, the first two bottles I wanted they were out of, but they didn't know they were out until they went to look. So we finally got our Champagne and were again asked if we had any food allergies. We ordered the tasting tasting menu, but their idea of a tasting menu was the chef's pick of several items off of the menu, not a true chefs tasting menu, but the items on the menu looked good so we were hopeful.
The meal had begun and it was indeed very good food. I won't go into all the courses, but the meal started with a crudite' course and then an amuse, followed by two seafood courses and two meat courses. The meal ended with a cheese course and two dessert courses. My highlight of the meal was the sweet corn and maine lobster pudding with tarragon, this dish was amazing, it took me back to growing up during the summer in New England. With the tasting menu we opted for the four wine pairing. I was really looking forward to this after hearing how great the sommelier is. The wine was good and paired nicely.
The evening was wrapping up and no one ever acknowledged the fact that it was my wife's bday and our anniversary, very dissapointing considering I had discussed it with them the night before, I wasn't looking for much, but we figured we'd at least get a candle in one of our desserts. Other than the corn and lobster pudding the only time I was overwhelmed all night was when I was given the check. My wife and I eat out regularly and dine at some of the best restaurants in southern California, but we have never had a dinner this exspensive. We went into the meal knowing it wasn't going to be cheap and we ordered with out worrying, but this bill was outrageous. The food was good, but not a memorable meal. The wine was good, but not good enough to justify the price. The service was decent, but for what we payed we should have felt like we were the only people there and that wasn't the case. I wouldn't have had a problem paying what we did if the meal had justified the cost, but that wan't the case. All in all, it wasn't the memorable, out of this world meal we were looking for.
Thank god we ate at Passionfish the following evening. It was a third of the price and the food was better.
When I looked on the website I saw $110 for the tasting menu, but maybe I didn't look close enough. But that isn't really my point. I don't have a problem paying as much as I did for dinner, my problem was that the prices they charge weren't justified. I've had meals that I would have gladdly paid what I did at L'Auberge and not have blinked an eye, this wasn't the case at all.