Aubergine, Carmel, 8/9/19

interior
interior

Aubergine is a tiny place that received a one Michelin star rating in the newest California guide, a first for the central coast.  It is one smallish room in the L’Auberge Hotel, but they also have a table in the wine cellar and some lounge seating.  Two of the walls of the room have bench seating while the third wall is windows to the street that were mercifully covered with curtains – as they get the afternoon sun.  The white ceiling is decorated with dark beams and the flooring is  a gray wood.  The white tablecloth covered tables are small and surprisingly close, but it was a small room and they only had 9 tables.  The 5 waiters provided plenty of attentive service.  Pacing was good to relaxed and portion control good.  There was some music in the background, lowered lighting and constant flow of people in and out of the hotel.  They serve two tasting menus, seasonal and signature, and do offer wine pairings (2 levels).  We chose the signature menu and ordered our own bottles of wine.  The service included lots of the main dishes coming out on platter to be shown before preparing your portion.  It was usually before you were served the item but I’ve grouped the photos with their appropriate course.  The ambiance is different but the place is worth a visit if you have the opportunity.

inteiror
interior
ceiling
ceiling
cover
cover
menu
menu
table set up
table set up
candle
Frankie warmed by the table candle

 

The ‘gifts from the coast’ started before we’d chosen anything – an anchovy vinaigrette with bee pollen and anise cream on a really crisp crust.  The interior of the tart was quite creamy and tart.

amuse
amuse
wine front
wine front
wine back
wine back
wine front
wine front
wine back
wine back

 

A roasted potato coquette was topped with freshwater Japanese eel.  It was greasy, hot, crispy and great.

fish
potato coquette with eel
sid eview
side view
inside
inside
floser
Frankie checked out the table flower

 

Caviar, tomato and Japanese cucumber made up the first course.  The Sturgeon caviar, from Sacramento, was on an oyster leaf on top of an oyster. Some pickled shallot and cucumber gazpacho with herb oil made up the broth/sauce.  The tomatoes were quite soft and the broth was very flavorful.  The oyster added a bit of brine to the dish and the pickled cucumber was really good.  The caviar didn’t have much pop to it but overall this was a quite good dish.

presentation
presentation
added broth
Caviar, tomato, Japanese cucumber
closer
closer
turned
turned
turned
turned
underneath
underneath

 

Holland turbot dusted with lemon zest was plated with zucchini and other squash.  The squash was particularly attractive in its presentation.  The zucchini wrapped around smoked salmon roe, nori purée and Meyer lemon purée.  The perfectly cooked fish was wonderful and the various sides were tasty and pretty.  It was a delicious plate.

presnetation
presentation of Holland turbot
closer
closer Holland turbot
fish
Holland turbot, zucchini squash
closer
closer
closer
closer zucchini
closer
closer fish
turned
turned
orchid
Frankie found an orchid

 

A brioche bun was served warm and made in house.  It was excellent.

rolls
brioche buns
closer
closer
from the top
from the top
inside
inside
Frankie played
Frankie played

 

Maine lobster was served with shiro dashi and fines herbes.  Some fava beans were also in the buttery shiro dashi along with fungus , seaweed, porcini mushrooms and jus from cod bones.  The lobster was cooked nicely and the sauce was rich and delicious.  This dish had a real depth of flavor and was excellent.

lobsster
Maine lobster, shiro dashi, fines herbes
closer
closer
turned
turned

 

Rohan duck was served with morels and baby leek.  A couple mustard greens and some chicken jus rounded out the plate.  The duck had a bit of liver flavor to the meat and some silver skin had been left by a tendon.  It was well seasoned and the jus was intense.

presentation
Rohan duck presentation
closer
closer duck
meat
Rohan duck, morels, baby leek
closer
clsoer
another angle
another angle
turned
turned
Greeter and Frankie
Friendly greeter Dominique and Frankie

 

Alongside was a broth of the bones mixed with daikon, Kombu, dehydrated shiitake mushrooms and seaweed.  It tasted more of mushrooms than meat.

sauce
broth
lookingin
looking in

 

A different round loaf of bread was served with butter from Springhill Farms.  It was a wheat – rye bread that was dense and doughy in the middle and crisp on the outside.  Good.

bread and butter
bread and butter
butter
butter
bread
bread
inside bread
inside bread

 

Japanese a5 wagyu was plated with kohlrabi, local herbs and flowers.    The meat was triple seared on a Yakitori grill.  It was incredible meat with a nice crisp edge and perfectly salted.  It had a tiny smoky essence and a good grilled flavor.  Beef butter – yum.  The kohlrabi was cut and beef jus was in the middle.  It was nicely cooked a a good accompaniment.

waygu
Japanese a5 wagyu, kohlrabi, local herbs and flowers
side opened
kohlrabi opened
Frankie approved
Frankie approved

 

Dessert was black truffle ice cream with puffed grains and brown butter popcorn.  The kettle corn and puffed grains added a good textural component and contrast.  They were strongly flavored and worked well with the gold leaf covered French truffle ice cream.

dessert
Black truffle ice cream, puffed grains, brown butter popcorn
another angle
another angle
inside
inside

 

Final treats were a blueberry muffin, a mango jelly and saltwater caramel with milk chocolate.  The muffin was buttery and good.  The caramel had a liquid center and was good.  The jelly had a very mild flavor.

last treats
last treats
Frankie inspected
Frankie inspected
inside
inside

 

A parting gift was a white chocolate bar dusted with raspberry.  They were okay.

IMG_0649
treat to go

 

kitchen
kitchen
kitchen
kitchen
Chef Cogley and Frankie
Chef Justin Cogley and Frankie

 

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