When you’re feeling especially adventurous or indulgent, you’ll want to sample the best you can find. Tasting menus let you do just that, one bite at a time. Chefs choose only the freshest seasonal ingredients to create a melange of flavors and textures that highlight their signature style. The South Bay is no stranger to excellence in dining and offers tasting menus worthy of their chef’s name and your palates.
320 Village Lane
Los Gatos, CA 95030
Price: $175 for tasting menu; $125 for four-course prix fixe menu
The sleek contemporary styling of this New American restaurant belies its warm atmosphere. For $175 a person ($273 or $350 with wine pairing) you are ensured about a dozen dishes reflecting farm-to-table integrity at this bay-area destination. This menu must be ordered by the entire table. If you are the only one looking for a multi-course meal, order the four-course prix fixe menu and enjoy the spread. Chef David Kinch sources all of Manresa’s produce exclusively from Love Apple Farms in nearby Santa Cruz and creates a chef’s choice arrangement from a list of seasonal ingredients. You can expect inventive dishes that reflect the local area like the salty spring tidal pool with shellfish, mushrooms and seaweed.
938 Villa St
Mountain View, CA 94041
Price: $85 for Menu Gastronomique ($140 with wine pairings); $130 for Chef’s Tasting Menu ($205 with wine pairings)
The Michelin-starred restaurant is celebrating its 30th year at its historic downtown Mountain View home. The cuisine can be described as eclectic French with a Californian touch and can be sampled by the entire table for $130 a person ($205 with wine pairing). Or if the table isn’t looking for the same type of feast, indulge in the Menu Gastronomique for just yourself. Each tasting menu is a unique experience as no two nights or even two tables will receive the same chef’s offerings. You can savor such tastes as Virginia ramp panna cotta, Hawaiian butter fish or wild Alaskan halibut in an intimate and cozy dining environment.
454 S California Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Price: $38.50 for lunch omakase menu; $82 for dinner omakase menu
Executive chefs Noriomi Kaneko and Ichiro Takahashi hail from the acclaimed Nobu in New York City to oversee the selection of self-described Executive Class Japanese cuisine. Ordering omakase means trusting the chefs to offer you only the freshest and finest creations they can envision and is the sushi equivalent to a tasting menu. Memorable sushi starts with the rice so Jin Sho uses only the highest quality rice and vinegar from Tamakimai Gold and Yusen Akazu. The price for omakase can vary during lunch and dinner but will always offer a fusion-style course, five pieces of sushi, miso soup and dessert. The chef will also ask you how many times you have ordered omakase from Jin Sho and prepare the offerings accordingly so you can get the full breadth of its artistry.
14555 Big Basin Way
Saratoga, CA 95070
Price: $145 for tasting menu ($233 with wine pairing)
Located in quaint downtown Saratoga, this fine-dining staple has earned a Michelin star as well as a reputation for delicious food in a beautiful atmosphere. Executive Chef and owner Peter Armellino offers homages to California fusion cuisine with such offerings as Tsar Nikolai caviar with lightly-pickled Japanese cucumber and seared artisan foie gras with roasted pineapple and jalapeño au jus. A wine list drawn from 1,800 selections is another highlight.
Related: South Bay’s Top Wine Tastings
201 S California Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Price: $178 for 12-plate dinner option ($228 with wine pairings); $78 for five-course Le Cinq lunch ($128 with wine pairings); $128 for nine-course Le Neuf lunch ($228 with wine pairings)
Dining at this inventive Palo Alto newcomer is meant to be a fun and unique experience, even whimsical. Baume earned its second Michelin star during its second anniversary this year thanks to Bruno Chemel’s fresh approach to French cuisine. The three tasting menu options allow you to embrace a journey of the senses and a touch of food chemistry without having your appetite weighed down. You can expect a variety of small plates like the signature 62.5-degrees Celsius slow-cooked farm fresh egg and ice cream shaped into pumpkin seeds dropped into kabocha soup for an unexpected hot-and-cold experience.
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Lollie Hopper loves to drink deeply from the well of culture. If it’s beautiful, interesting or timely, this Bay Area native wants to cover it. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.