It’s not every day I go to a Michelin 3-starred restaurant. On this lovely California evening, six of us arrived at the famed Los Gatos establishment, full of anticipation.
David Kinch used to operate the famed Sent Sovi at Saratoga. Then he sold it and opened a new one in Los Gatos. When the building was burned down, he bought the facility outright and re-built it into the current form. This restaurant has received 2 Michelin stars for years and got their 3rd in 2016. By definition, a 3-star restaurant is worthy of being the destination of a trip.
The tasting menu is $245, beverage pairing adds another $198. Two of us shared the pairing and walked out of the dinner $950 less. We did not have opening cocktails or the optional cheese plate at the end. A bit strange that we received the menu, and wine list, at the end of our meal.
The dinner began with a trio appetizer: small square soft candy, a granola crisp, and a savory mandoline. It followed with a beautifully presented Asian mini taco-shaped bounty of flavor. Then a half tiny Artichoke heart, grilled, next to a caviar soup (dipping was encouraged, we, obviously, obliged.) The rest became a blur, with a memorable flatware that gave the impression that someone was offering you foods in their hands. There was a tiny piece of Salmon that simply melted in my mouth, an Abalone that reminded me the China days, duck with endive and perfumed with orange, and the savory bite-size lamb morsel. Each one came with a different beverage: white, beer, or red.
Then came the parade of the sweet dishes that ended with chocolate and macarons.
Overall, it was a very delightful and enjoyable 4-hour dinner. The service was superb, foods extremely delicious, and ambience elegant and relaxing. Michelin 3-star, however, set the expectation that everything be delightful and flawless. It was not. We were mildly disappointed at the beverage pairing. Few drinks gave me a wow, this is good. The whites were on the sweet side, the beer was just strange, and the portions low. I expected complimentary coffee. It cost $13.
Was it worth the money? Years ago, I came out of Chez Panisse enchanted. I couldn’t stop myself talking about it for weeks. Since then, I learned that uniqueness is difficult to price. This restaurant is probably finer in sophistication in nearly all aspects of all restaurants that I have been to, including Chez Panisse. I don’t regret coming or paying for the meal. Relatively speaking, I enjoyed the experience, but not at the same ratio of the price.
This is probably not flattering to Mr. Kinch.