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Satisfying Saturdays
Eating Well In Wine Country

By Charles Olken

90 MANRESA 320 Village Lane (just off North Santa Cruz Avenue) Los Gatos CA 95030 408-354-4330

You may have noticed that Connoisseurs’ Guide has a hard-earned reputation for being the most demanding graders among the wine critics. And you may have also noticed that we are considerably more generous with our restaurant ratings than our nearest competition, The Guide Michelin which is as stingy with its stars as a priest running out of holy water.

Yet here we have a very fine restaurant that simply disappointed us. It earns a rare two-stars from the Guide Michelin, and there are only two at three-stars and three at two-stars according to that august body. We would award a lot more. But, not to Manresa. The reason is simple: inconsistency. We have dishes at Manresa that are world-class heavenly like the fois gras crème caramel and the Arpege egg. We have had dishes that fell flat on their faces like the Bavette Steak cooked in its own suet. Greasy, gross, heavy and, frankly, the absolutely wrong way to end a meal that lasts four hours.

So, yes, we are a bit bothered by Manresa. We went there with my son and his special friend, a professional chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. NY. We were showing off, and the restaurant let us down. Not overwhelmingly, mind you, but enough so that Mrs. Olken is not interested in going back. She and I have a simple standard for expensive meals out: serve me dishes better than I can make at home. Much of the food at Manresa did that, but not all. And at the price, it all should. It does at Cyrus and The French Laundry. It does at every fancy, multiple-star meal we have ever had in France, save one, and it should have at Manresa. A score of 90-points is not a bad rating, of course, but the restaurant should have done better.


by Terry Rooney
Posted on:12/4/2010 6:27:43 PM

Manresa is highly over-rated, Charlie. Totally disappointing in every respect and very expensive.

By the way, Bistro Jeanty was much the same story and we are not alone there. M. Bauer gave is one little star in the Chronicle, and Michelin removed its big star.

Give us Perbacco, the place that never disappoints in a dozen visits!!

Terry Rooney



Manresa, Bistro Jeanty
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:12/4/2010 7:07:08 PM

Hi Terry--

I have a very different set of needs when I go to Bistro Jeanty. I want the tomato soup to taste like the essence of tomato and the Boeuf En Daube to melt in my mouth. So far I have not been disappointed.

Manresa was a disappointment, despite its two Michelin stars, because it did not live up to either its reputation or its price.

That said, the two most memorable dishes I have had this year were the fois gras creme caramel and the Arpege Egg at Manresa. The problem, of course, is that one does not pay an arm and a leg for the amuse bouches but for the mains, and that was where Manresa broke down for us.

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