Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nibbling at Michael Mina before Wicked

I wouldn’t really call it nibbling (more a full fledge meal) but I plead the fifth on whether I had a late night dinner after watching Wicked. Michael Mina offers a $55 3 course pre-theatre menu until 6pm, a bargain for a first timer to experience a 2 star Michelin restaurant and MM’s signature dishes.

Michael MinaAfter revolving my body through the Westin St. Francis hotel, to my right is Mina’s lounge, Clock Bar, to my left and up the stairs is Michael Mina’s restaurant. The hostess seated us at a table against the wall, in my opinion one of the least desirable tables in the room, since we were at the only wall without a window.

Michael Mina - CenterpieceOur server was simply outstanding. Period. If there was an Oscar award for service I would nominate her and she would win. Period. Secretly, I was expecting less than stellar service because we ordered the cheapest pri-fixe and no alcohol. She was professional and personable with small talk that pertained to our ongoing topics of the night. When I asked a question about the menu she was quick and knowledgeable.

The $55 pri-fixe does not include an amuse, we were served a crusty warm bread roll accompanied by the most incredible potent creamy butter. The butter was a golden yellow color and rich in flavor, it reminded me of a banh mi spread used at Kim’s in San Jose. Killer. Our server told us it is from Spring Hill Cheese Farm* in Petaluma, CA and each season because of the cow’s diet the color of the butter ranges from a pale to a rich yellow color.

Michael Mina - Bread with Spring Hill Farm's butterMichael Mina - Spring Hill Cheese Farm's butter

Like tin man, instead of a missing heart I was missing a stomach, stuffing myself silly with bread because I couldn’t get enough of the butter. Is there a Wizard of Oz at the end of the road to help me?

My first course, a signature and #19 on The Big 100 Eats list is the Ahi Tuna Tartare served with crustless toasted points. My server presented me the dish and divulged the ingredients before mixing it together – bosc pears, scotch bonnet, pepper, raw quail egg and sesame oil. The cylinder shaped tuna consist of uneven (because it was hand cut) cubes which were vibrant in a maroonish red color and firm.

Michael Mina - Ahi Tuna Tartare, Peppers, Bosc Pears, Sesame Oil, Scotch BonnetMichael Mina - Ahi Tuna Tartare, Peppers, Bosc Pears, Sesame Oil, Scotch BonnetMichael Mina - Ahi Tuna Tartare, Peppers, Bosc Pears, Sesame Oil, Scotch Bonnet

The other first course was the Hudson Valley Foie Gras terrine with a ginger cookie crust. The terrine was finely smooth and airy, a nice texture.

Michael Mina - Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine

My second course was the Brandt Farm Prime Beef Filet seared to a perfect medium rare, dressed with a bell pepper hollandaise. The tiny jewel shaped sides - short ribs, skinless roasted cherry tomato, potato fourchette and a pearl onion. The hollandaise sauce was light and surprisingly went went with the tender beef. The short ribs was compounded into a square but the meat fell apart with a nudge from my fork.

Michael Mina - Brandt Farm Prime Beef Filet

The other second course is another signature, Baked Lobster Pot Pie (the regular size, a $35 supplement onto the $105 pri-fixe menu is about 2.5 times larger.) The server brings a copper pot topped with a flaky top and then breaks into the cover. He begins with placing the crust on the bottom and builds the lobster, vegetables and lastly the sauce. The lobster included 1/3 of the tail and a claw (the regular size is the entire lobster.)

Michael Mina - Maine Lobster Pot PieMichael Mina - Maine Lobster Pot PieMichael Mina - Maine Lobster Pot Pie

The sauce was like the essence of the lobster shell and meat trapped in a creamy state. The roasted vegetables, lobster meat and crust was bathe in this mind numbing sauce.

On to the desserts, yet another signature MM dish – Root beer float served with a warm double chocolate and regular chocolate chip cookie. Let’s list the details: The glass is double pane and frosted, chocolate straws for the illusion and a very foamy head, so foamy I almost got lost. They use sassafras ice cream, root beer sorbet and IBC root beer, it transformed me back to the days of slumber parties; much more refine unlike your friend's older sister who-was-forced-to-babysit version. The cookies were warm, chewy, soft and gooey making my linen napkin look like it was shot by chocolate bullets.

Michael Mina - Signature Root Beer FloatMichael Mina - Warm cookies (with root beer float)Michael Mina - Signature Root Beer Float

The other dessert was the Caramelized Jasmine Olive Oil Cake and the presentation looked like a freshly painted piece of art. The smooth green pistachio with crumbs on the edges, wobbling red dots, 3D cloud of Soft Yogurt Bavarois and a shade of pink blowing kisses at me. The sauces needed to be combined to create the perfect balance of texture, sweetness, bitter, and savory.

Michael Mina - Jasmine Olive Oil Cake, Soft Yogurt Bavarois, Rooibos Tea, Pistachio Purée

Our server ended the night with a question, “Is there anything else I can do to make your night more enjoyable?” and brought mignardises of raspberry gelee and s’mores. The marshmallow in the smoree is infused with hibiscus.

Michael Mina - Mignardises - roasted smore and raspberry geleeMichael Mina - Mignardises - roasted smore and raspberry gelee

The $55 pri-fixe is a good introduction to Micheal Mina because I now want to come back to try all of his different tasting menu, an excellent prelude to a highly anticipated show.

*Spring Hill Farm Cheese has a booth at the Saturday Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building.

Michael Mina
335 Powell St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 397-9222
Restaurant Michael Mina on Urbanspoon


foodhoe said...

awww, I love that your dessert blew kisses at you!

Erika said...

Is that a slice of lemon in a little leaf-shaped dish? Oh, I'm in love. And being blown kisses from dessert - I love when I receive sweet nothings from my sweets!! :)

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