Saturday, August 1, 2009

Signature Meal

I celebrate my birthday all month. Glad we went to San Francisco before April ended!
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Michael Mina is the flagship restaurant of...Michael Mina. Heh.
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This ain't no ordinary hotel restaurant. This is a Westin St. Francis establishment. This is the recipient of two vaunted Michelin stars.

You know you're at a fancy place when butter arrives like this.
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And your candlelight radiates from this.
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Michael Mina offers an innovative "trio" concept ($105), as well as a seasonal six-course tasting ($135). We did the latter and were very pleased with our choice, especially as we ogled the two tables flanking us who did the "trio" deal.

Amuse bouche -- caviar and oyster on the halfshell.
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Fresh, cool, slippery, and fabulous.

Choice of one of the two below.

Foie gras terrine with Medjool dates, Marcona almonds, and sherry gelée ($15 supp).
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Super rich and super smooth and super interesting paired with the gelée. The different textures were lovely, the flavors delicately sweet.

Kombu-cured hirame -- uni aioli, pickled honshemeji mushrooms, and dashi gelée.
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A little translation for you -- this was fluke infused with Japanese kelp soup stock and sea urchin garlic and olive oil sauce. Further translation? Effing bomb-diggity.

Catalina Island abalone, Tellicherry pepper fettucine, spring garlic, and Genovese basil.
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Who knew pasta could be so incredible? The abalone was tender and luscious, and the fettucine was perfectly al dente and cut into bite-sized threads -- no need to twirl! Both of us really adored this.

Pan-seared halibut, chorizo, piquillo peppers, and razor clams.
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This may have been the best halibut I've ever had. So moist and delicious and beautifully seared and not at all overpowered by the chorizo.

Poached Liberty Valley duck breast, spring onion soubise, fava beans, and lovage jus.
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Nice. I love duck. This wasn't mind-blowing, but it was an enjoyably tender and tasty transition between the fish and meat.

Elysian Fields Farm lamb chop, falafel, Greek yogurt, and green almonds.
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Rich. Manly. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Choice of one of the two below.

Bleu d'Auverge, Hefeweizen foam, pretzel crisp, and mustard.
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This was not cheese for the timid. Strong stuff.

Rhubarb-lemon sponge cake with Tellicherry peppercorn ice cream, Meyer lemon confit, and basil.
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Wish we'd gotten two of these instead of the cheese. I couldn't taste the peppercorn, but I could taste the awesome tartness and decadent creaminess. And that was mmm mmm good.

My special birthday treat -- fresh warm chocolate cookies.
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Kinda amazing. Maybe better than the cake. For the record, I shared with Mr. Monkey.

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Not particularly memorable but still cute.

Satisfied customers are we.
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Kudos to our terrific server, Mark, who not only took great care of us our entire meal, but also snapped our happy photo and hooked us up with an autographed menu!

Next: A tower, a square, and a pier.


  1. I love how pretty the restaurant is. We stayed at the St. Francis last weekend and everything was amazing :-)

  2. Way to celebrate, Rivers! HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY! Wish Mina gave a rat's ass about XIV ;-)

  3. Just curious is there any food that you won't eat? I don't like mushrooms and other members of the fungi family.

  4. wht a beautiful bday meal. and thanks for the translation. i was lost there for a while. : )

  5. Nina, I can't think of anything I won't at least try.

    I'm not particularly fond of mushrooms myself, but I still eat them anyway. I trust chefs know what they're doing, and I like to eat dishes the way chefs want them to be eaten. :)

  6. your method of eating is tater-approved. ;)

    beautiful and yummy-looking.

  7. Glad you had such a great experience. We chose the trio courses 2 years ago and were not impressed. Your food looks much much better!

  8. I can't ever be as adventurous as you with tasting menus since there is an awful lot of fish being served ;-)

  9. Happy Birthday! It looks like you had an amazing dinner.

  10. All of those sound SO delicious to me. Was this tasting menu like a three-hour meal?

  11. Isn't any tasting menu a three-hour meal? :)

  12. the presentation looks beautiful, I can only imagine how the food tasted. again, must live vicariously through you.

  13. I like your attitude about trusting chefs. It's a huge pet peeve of mine when I dine with someone who makes changes to the original dish. I mean, it's ok at In N Out, but not ok at a place with 2 Michelin stars.

  14. So glad that you had a great dinner! I am always so freaking jealous of your photos. You need to give me some tips.

  15. I knew this post would leave me a little weepy.

    ::wipes tear from eye::

    Looks like you had a lovely meal. Great pics as usual!

  16. Who knew Catalina had Mina worthy abalone? Not me. Beautiful looking and sounding meal... like the autographed menu!

  17. I was staying at the St. Francis this past April myself! I walked past the restaurant every day and wondered what it would be like to eat there. Sadly, I'm not as food savy as you are. I would have no clue what to order. I'm glad it was a lovely b-day dinner.

  18. next time I'm up there, I'm going to make it to this darned place. RN74 was super fun and thoughtful, but MM is still the flagship restaurant.

    I got as close to it as standing in the hotel lobby and touching the sign. Super lame!

  19. I kind of want to eat my monitor. Also, ditto what Venn said.

  20. Oh. My God. That is gorgeous food. Granted, I don't know what 90% of it is, but it's still beautiful. I've never been to a MM restaurant. One day! You give me something to look forward to.

  21. that looks like a perfect bday meal!

    you should definitely submit some of your photos to it's a visual restaurant review site with a template similar to that of tastespotting

  22. Hi weezermonkey,

    Happy Birthday! (^_^)

    Nice review and great photos. :) It looks like Mina is holding up better than XIV. The dishes look a bit tastier as well.

  23. What a dinner! Love the word choice of "manly." Can you believe I just tried albacore for the first time??? so good. happy belated.

  24. Oh, yum! Love the presentation on everything -- and your huge post-cookie smiles!

  25. WeezerM, fantastic recap on a restaurant we've been wanting to try. Happy belated birthday.

  26. wait - this blog post is from your BIRTHDAY? which was in APRIL??

    did the blogging hiatus really start that long ago?

    in any case, awesome dinner, dude. i love living a foodie life vicariously through you.

    and that cheese scared me a little.

  27. What a great meal and I love that you got a signed menu!!!


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