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A Tasting Menu at the Fine Dining Restaurant at L'Auberge Carmel

David Fink began his restaurateur career with the acclaimed Bouchée, now operated by Andre Lemaire. Aubergine is his polished restaurant at L'Auberge Carmel, while Cantinetta Luca is a casual but elegant Italian establishment. Fink's latest venture is Cantinetta Piero in the Hotel Luca in Napa Valley.

Restaurateur David Fink

Editor's Note: Chef Christophe Grosjean has since left the restaurant.

Amuse bouche of cauliflower mousse Monterey Bay spot prawn amuse bouche
Cauliflower mousse
Monterey Bay spot prawn

Our tasting menu at restaurateur David Fink's Aubergine at L'Auberge Carmel was arranged as a series of duets, harmoniously composed by chef Christophe Grosjean. Two amuse bouches perked up the palate: the first, a cauliflower mousse with Romanesco cabbage and cumin seed; the second, a Monterey Bay spot prawn with citrus vinaigrette and garden herbs.

Avocado & Maine Lobster Potato & Oyster
Avocado & Maine Lobster
Potato & Oyster

In the dish of Avocado & Maine Lobster, the crustacean was served as a carpaccio with tangerine, avocado purée and an artful tangle of frisée. Oyster potato ravioli arrived dressed with crème fraîche, Noilly Prat and Beausoleil oyster velouté. Aubergine's sommelier selected a 2007 Abbazia di Novacella, Kerner, Alto Adige, Italy and a 2006 King Estate Pinot Gris from Oregon to complement each dish.

Cucumber & Sea Urchin Endive & Salmon
Cucumber & Sea Urchin
Endive & Salmon

"Cucumber & Sea Urchin" appeared as a small glass of Japanese cucumber, slow poached "rascasse" and saffron gelée topped with sea urchin foam, while yellow endive and citrus cured salmon were plated side by side. A 2006 Brander, Sauvignon Blanc from the Santa Ynez Valley was paired with both courses.

Truffle & Egg Cabbage & White Sea Bass
Truffle & Egg
Cabbage & White Sea Bass

The classic pairing of Truffle & Egg was represented with "tuber melanosporum," more commonly known as black Périgord truffle, and a slow poached brown egg, butterball potato and market greens. Sea bass was perched atop "embeurrée de choux" (cabbage) with bacon, foie gras and whole mustard grain jus. Accompanying these dishes was a 2006 Chock Rock, Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands.

Quince & Foie Gras Sunchoke & Red Abalone
Quince & Foie Gras
Sunchoke & Red Abalone

The richness of the seared foie gras contrasted with its accompaniments of quince purée and dried apricot. We savored the dish with a 2005 Von Hovel, Riesling Auslege "Scharzhofberger Riesling," Mosel, Germany. Abalone sourced from nearby Monterey Bay was joined by Jerusalem artichoke, a tangy white onion purée and black truffle emulsion. The course was paired with a 2006 Francois Chidane, Vouvray, Loire Valley, France.

Parsnip & Veal Cardoon & Squab
Parsnip & Veal
Cardoon & Squab

While sipping a 2005 Mastroberardino, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Red, we enjoyed perfectly pink veal loin nestled between parsnip gnocchi, Mousseron mushrooms and Bloomsdale spinach. Cardoon & Squab was composed of braised cardoon, brussel sprout, crispy leg, squab breast and salmis jus, and complemented by a 2006 Tantara Winery, Pinot Noir "Solomon Hills Vineyard," Santa Maria Valley.

Carrot & Natural Beef Turnip & Hare
Carrot & Natural Beef
Turnip & Hare

Roasted beef filet, braised oxtail and a bone marrow "soufflé" were served with spears of maroon and yellow carrots and leeks and paired with a 2005 Sage Vineyards, Meritage, Napa Valley. The dish of Turnip & Hare featured braised shoulder and roasted loin with a turnip glacé, truffle pasta and sauce civet. It was accompanied by a 2005 Chateau de Bellevue, Lussac St. Emilion Bordeaux.

Pre-Dessert Dessert

The pre-dessert prepared our palates for the sweeter courses to follow.

Passion Fruit & Milk Chocolate Persimmon & Chocolate
Passion Fruit & Milk Chocolate
Persimmon & Chocolate

Pastry chef Ron Mendoza concluded the tasting menu with composed desserts of milk chocolate ganache with passion fruit pulp, meringue and shiso sorbet paired with MV Chambers Rosewood, Muscat, Australia; and persimmon cake, chocolate parfait and brown butter ice cream complemented by a 2004 Spaetrot Gebeshuber, TBA, Austria.

(Updated: 11/05/10 BLS)

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