A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to sample the new menu items at Stonehill Tavern. I’ve been to several Michael Mina’s restaurants when living in the Bay Area, so I am well versed with the quality and the opulence of his menus.
My friend and I were invited to sit on the patio to enjoy our Tasting of Seasonal Shellfish as we watched the sun just about to set over the horizon. It was beautiful and so serene as we sat back and enjoyed our cocktails of Moscow Mule and Violet Turning Violet.
The Shellfish Platter ($29) consisted of Kumamoto Oyster, Spot Prawn Cocktail, Marinated Abalone Sashimi, Dungeness Crab Leg, Uni Flan, Giant Clam Ceviche. I, of course, wasn’t able to partake in the oyster (and I LOVE Kumamotos!) but I thoroughly enjoyed the other items on the plate, especially the uni flan which was like an orgasmic explosion in my mouth. It was just exquisite!
We were then led inside the dining room to embark on the journey that is the Chef’s Tasting Menu, an 8-course meal ($148) which you have the option to pair two ways — Sommelier’s Wine Pairing ($95) or Sommelier’s Alternative Pairing ($65) and both are listed beneath each course.
But before our main meal was served, we were treated to a taste of the Ahi Tuna Tartare ($21) one of Michael Mina’s signature dish in fact, which consisted of chunks of sushi-grade ahi, bosc pear and pine nuts drizzled with a habanero infused sesame oil and topped with a raw quail’s egg yolk.
Our Tasting Menu began with Smoked Salmon, cucumber, dill, greek yogurt topped with a delicately crispy pumpernickel slice. The subtlety of this dish is the perfect start to the menu, showing off the intricacy of the lightly smoked fish, paired with just the right amount of acroutrements and the ideal blend of textures all around.
Leitz Riesling “Dragonstone” Rudesheimer, Rheingau, Germany 2010
Heirloom Tomato Water & Ketel One Shooter
Next came Three Eggs, an uni custard with a local chicken egg scrambled topped with wasabi tobiko. The egg overpowered the uni custard so I wasn’t able to detect much uni flavor, but the presentation was outstanding.
Chartogne-Taillet “Cuvee Michael Mina” Champagne, France NV
Huchu Homare-Junmai -Gingo Sake “Watari-Hune”, Ibakaki, Japan NV
Day-Boat Halibut was by far one of my favorites of the night. Asparagus, green almonds, ramps and pancetta shared the plate creating one of the most pleasurable mouthful ever.
Sauvion Sancerre, Loire Valley, France 2010
Brokenwood Semillon, Hunter Valley, Australia 2010
Maine Lobster was a pot pie, served table side with bits of peas and carrots, ricotta gnocchi, morels and sweet garlic. The full portion is ginormous and should be shared by several.
Francois Mikulski Meursault “Poruzots” 1er Cru, Burgundy, France 2006
Berthet-Bondet Cotes du Jura “Tradition”, France 2007
For your entree course, there are two to choose from. Grimaud Farms Duck is tender and flavorful and I loved the black barley, baby turnips, confit rillette with an anise cookie garnish.
Kosta Browne Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California 2010
Braida Barbera D’Asti “Bricco Dell’Uccellone”, Piedmonte, Italy 2006
What I loved even more was my friend’s Wagyu Striploin, but it was the marrow served in the bone that blew me over. I love marrow and this was gooey and oh so decadent. Porcini and broccoli accompany.
Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino “White Label” Tuscany, Italy 2007
Zaya 12 Year Old Rum, Trinidad
Our meal slowly comes to an end with a cheese course first — Melted Camembert — served with pickled baby leeks and rhubard confiture, I could’ve had two more servings of this!
Adrien Camut “Aperitif Normand” Normandy, France NV
Gonzalez Byass “Aspotoles” Palo Cortado Sherry, Jerez, Spain NV
My not-so-dessert-palate thoroughly enjoyed Raspberry Curd, our dessert and final course. Chocolate graham, cocoa nib, cassis and marshmallow completed the plate. The marriage of tart and sweet gave it the perfect balance. It was light and oh so delightful in my mouth.
Smith Woodhouse Late Bottled Vintage Porto, Portugal 2000
The Bruery & Bootlegger’s Black Rye Lager “Chocosaurus Rye”
It was a perfect meal, one which I am sure you will also enjoy for a special occasion such a birthday, anniversary, graduation, or any other reason you can think of. Or, you can sit at the patio and enjoy a few cocktails and enjoy the seafood platter while watching the sunset. Either way, Stonehill Tavern is a spot where superb service will blow you away and the food will tantalize your tastebuds.
at The St Regis
1 Monarch Beach Resort
Dana Point, CA 92629