Dinner – Monday, July 3, 2017

It’s been awhile since we’ve visited Aubergine – December 2016 was our last meal here, although I now realize I didn’t post about it. The dining room underwent a slight refresh after their winter break, and it took us some time (and momentary confusion) to process the change. The staff, however, are as welcoming as always. For only the second time, Justin Cogley was not in the house, but his executive sous chef Ki Chung kept the kitchen humming on the awkward Monday before Independence Day.

Pacific Gold oysters, seawater gelee, Siberian caviar
Fried pea soup, jamon Iberico

Sweet 100 tomatoes
Frozen cucumber, oyster leaf, oyster jus

Super-sweet tomatoes swimming in a briny oyster broth, topped with some cucumber ice for cool balance. This was brilliantly paired with a wonderful Sp├Ątlese Riesling – the two melded together into a cohesive unit.

Fava beans
Smoked char roe, shiro dashi emulsion, violet petals

We’ve had a few versions of this dish (with peas, edamame, hedgehog mushrooms, etc), and the intensity of the shiro dashi always catches me a bit off guard, particularly because it arrives so early in a menu. Here, the course was served with some cheddar brioche to soak up every last drop of the sauce.

Grilled local mackerel
Nasturtium, dulse, pickled bell peppers

Monterey Bay red abalone
Caperberry puree, pickled turnips, pea shoots

In times past, I’ve always felt the kitchen’s desire to connect the abalone to the ocean – here, the meatiness of the abalone was really emphasized, making it feel like a dish from the land. A very different presentation – we loved it.

Crispy chicken skin, chicken farce, black truffle-chicken jus, pickled onions

Miyazaki A5 wagyu, charred scallions, bok choy
As with the abalone, this was a new presentation for Aubergine’s signature triple-seared wagyu – more “composed”, in contrast to other times when components have been separated. The hints of bitterness in the scallion sauce and bok choy nicely balanced the abundance of fat in the meat.

100-day dry-aged ribeye
Accompanying the wagyu, and served atop two huge ribs. “The bones are for decoration,” they said. I think not! We set upon them like hungry wolves (yes, even this late in the tasting). I love tasting different sources of meat side-by-side – it was great to contrast the mild, almost creamy wagyu with the leaner, more flavourful American(?) beef.

Cheese service

Gin and tonic granite, fennel, olallieberry

Roasted and dried strawberries
White chocolate-chamomile ganache, geranium petals

Excellent! Superb balance of sweet and herbal notes – the dessert of my dreams.

Chocolate, mascarpone
Acorn tuile, hyssop ice cream, Luxardo cherries

Seawater caramel bonbon, peach-chamomile macaron, olallieberry financier

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or so they say. Did that sway us? Tonight’s meal was extremely strong – I’d like to think we were objective about it (trust me, I’m a scientist…?) The tweaks to some ingredients were reinvigorating. I feel a renewed sense of urgency to return again.

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