Quince is an elegant dining experience. We were there several years and they have done a significant amount of remodeling since then and received their third Michelin star last fall. The remodeling was finished about 2 and a half years ago and added 2 smaller dining rooms to the larger main dining room. Lighting is low, soft music plays and linens are high quality but it was a tad warm in one of the small side dining rooms where we sat. These side rooms have banquette seating along one wall and fairly small tables. Service is excellent. The friendly servers could not have been better and our waiter, Conan, looked after every detail – even sending me home with a box of their delicious caramels.
They offer 2 tasting menus during the week, with one having 4 less courses, however on weekends they only offer the longer menu. Wine pairings are available as well as caviar and foie gras optional supplements. We chose the Quince Menu, or longer tasting, without the optional caviar but added one of the foie gras course to split, and ordered our own bottles of wine.
Everyone starts with a series of canapés, including baby vegetables of carrot, turnip and radish with ash butter, gougeres, avocado on carrot cracker, celery root fondant, buttermilk crackers with roe, parmesan marshmallows.
The first course is called Black Diamond which is chick pea flower and black diamond truffle. They were warm and creamy and nice.
Tsar Nicoulai caviar is the second course (Golden Osetra is available for a supplement) and presented in three different ways in a stacked dish set – with smoked sturgeon and beet; an almond and kohlrabi foam with cabbage; a brioche with creme fraiche. The smoked sturgeon and caviar also had something creamy and was quite yummy. The buttery brioche really accented the wonderful caviar. The kohlrabi foam was nice, but the star of all the variations was the lovely caviar.
The artichoke was with squid and topped with a crunchy squid ink chip and with farro. The course was good but not outstanding.
Next they brought some house made breads, a Challah bread of burnt wheat and brushed with honey and a spent grain sour dough, and local water buffalo milk butter. Both were okay but the butter was interesting and nice.
The asparagus was also in different forms and textures including broth all mixed with some perfectly cooked crawfish. It was a good combination of tastes and textures and the crawfish were among the best I’ve had.
The garganelli pasta was with lobster, espelette, black kale. The pastas were stuffed and mixed with Perigòrd truffles which did have flavor. It was rich, tasty and fun and a lot of flavors but all blended well however that meant that nothing have a distinctive flavor.
The Monterey Bay abalone was served in its own shell in a mini sour dough bread bowl. The little round loaf was filled with creaminess but the outer edge was to chewy to eat. The lid of the bowl was served next to it and was quite edible.
The agnolottini were served in a hollowed out rolling-pin shaped container. They come with tweezers as they have too delicate for fork work, having been worked all by hand not machine. They were filled with squab but you really couldn’t taste it, mortadella was a much stronger flavor. Regardless they were really tasty and amazingly tender. There was also a bowl of squab stuffed pasta that was quite nice.
The Hudson Valley foie gras was served seared with a kumquat marmalade, parsnip purée and brioche crumbs. The crumbs added a nice crunch to the perfectly cooked rich foie gras. The kumquat was nice with it but I liked the foie gras just by itself.
Next we had a kitchen tour including a snack.
Savory courses ended with the A4 Wagyu beef – and talk about amazing. This is such great meat, rich and tender, not the strongest beef taste but the overall affect is simply fantastic in the mouth -like eating “beef butter”. It was served with some wheat berries, with a barley like consistency, charred leeks, pearl onions and black garlic. A fantastic course. It also came with a side salad of winter chicory in a beautiful maple wood bowl. Very fresh greens and a nice amount of dressing made it a good accompaniment.
The palate cleanser was made of Granny Smith apples, lime, coconut and oxalis. The sorrel flavor was throughout and mixed well with the white crisp apple pieces. The surrounding ice was also apple flavored – a really good offering and a fine, cool refresher.
Chiboust was the first dessert. It was a baked mousse paired with passion fruit, gold and chocolate. It was good but the there was too much going on with it for my tastes. Almost too creamy and sweet – how is that possible?
The mignardises included macaroons, milk chocolate truffles, lemon meringue poppy seed tartlets, nougats, caramels, lollipops of strawberry and Bergamot mint, praline cream puffs, madeleines and chocolate balls with liquor centers (which were my favorite with the caramels).