Chez Noir was the result of the husband and wife team collaboration of Jonny and Monique Black. He runs the kitchen and she manages the front of the house, both with lots of fine dining experience. The craftsman house that holds the 36-seat restaurant also houses the couple above it. Out front are enough patio tables for 22 more guests that also can be reserved. Another 8 seats are in front of the small bar in a separate interior room. A small seasonal menu relies on local products but they also offer a “let us cook for you” option. They call it a shareable feast and it is. The whole table must participate and wine pairings are offered. It is a fantastic way to sample much of the menu and I heartily recommend it. It is relatively new on the dining scene of Carmel, opening in Oct. 2022 and already has one well-deserved Michelin Star. Trust me, this is a fabulous place to go if you get the opportunity.
We started with one of their specialty cocktails, the Nectarine Daiquiri made with rum, lime and Espelette pepper. It was delightful and well-matched with the first few courses until our wine arrived.
Monterey Squid Gildas are made with Basque pepper, Castelvetrano olives and anchovy. Served on a skewer they are covered with the seasonings and a yummy way to start the tasting.
Chilled oysters were seasoned with Basque pepper, gin and Bearss lime, then enhanced with Chez Noir reserve caviar. The oysters were from Washington and lovely but the caviar made this bite special. The menu offers the option to add 5g of caviar to anything for $25.
Monterey Bay Abalone skewers were seasoned with bay laurel, liver butter and Meyer lemon. These were on a branch from the bay plant and sitting on ‘abalone butter.’ Incredibly tender and full of lovely flavor.
Bluefin Tuna tartare toast was topped with Lipstick peppers, vanilla bean, aioli and shiso. The tuna, locally line-caught, was divine and so was the pepper. The silkiness of both melded into bites of heaven on the crisp seasoned toast. Ahhhhh… a favorite of the evening.
Heirloom tomato terrine “Basquaise” was seasoned with Boquerone(anchovies marinated in vinegar), guindilla pepper, and torpedo onion. Another favorite. Really flavorful tomatoes mixed great with the vinegar sauce, onions and tomato gel. The anchovies were mild enough that anyone would like these.
Bluefin Tuna crudo was topped with heirloom cucumber, Kashiwase nectarine and marigolds. The thin sliced tuna was topped with a lapped-over presentation of the other ingredients. Wonderful nectarines were perfectly ripe and bursting with flavor as was the cucumber. A great mix of flavors.
Grilled Borba Farms broccoli and peppers also contained lacopi butter beans, scallion and Romesco sauce which was further enhanced by the addition of Fort Bragg sea urchin. The broccoli was small and tender enough to be broccolini and the romesco sauce was great on everything. The beans were perfectly cooked and mixed in wonderfully The tasty local uni added a fun twist. The shiso peppers were tasty not hot.
Sweet corn agnolotti was topped with Borba Farm zucchini and blossoms and lobster mushrooms. Browned butter blended it all together for another fabulous plate. The tender pasta packets were filled with flavorful corn – so sweet and fresh.
Sweetbread and Baja scallop “salad aux lardons” also contained Borba Farm pole beans, frisée topped with pancetta vinaigrette and toasted hazelnuts. This came with a housemade brioche roll and butter. The scallop was tender and nice but the sweetbread made me swoon. So good and perfect with the other ingredients. The tender warm brioche was great on its own or smeared with butter. I could live on these alone.
Sheep’s milk yogurt sorbet was alongside Barhi date topped with caramelized honey and camomile. The dates were really sweet and chewy and added depth to the light sorbet. A good melding.
The Mille-Feuille contained dark chocolate, Oregon hazelnut praline and raspberry. The pastry was fairly browned and very crisp. There was no way to eat it without making a giant mess. Inside was coffee cream, raspberries and chocolate. It was good but I preferred the sorbet with dates.
Lastly was a Canelé de Bordeaux. I love these little cakes but this was not the best execution I’ve had, however at this point, it was a fun bite and a fine finish for a wonderful meal.