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.
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.
A roasted potato coquette was topped with freshwater Japanese eel. It was greasy, hot, crispy and great.
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.
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.
A brioche bun was served warm and made in house. It was excellent.
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.
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.
Alongside was a broth of the bones mixed with daikon, Kombu, dehydrated shiitake mushrooms and seaweed. It tasted more of mushrooms than meat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A parting gift was a white chocolate bar dusted with raspberry. They were okay.