Monday, July 19, 2010

Michael Mina

335 Powell St, San Francisco, CA
(415) 397-9222

My best friend, Victor, took me to Michael Mina for my birthday back in June (Thanks Vic!), so this is quite an overdue post. Even though though it's a month or so ago, some of the food I had at Michael Mina remains quite memorable.

When I think of Michael Mina, I think of lobster pot pie because that what the restaurant is known for. Other than that, when I think of Michael Mina, I think of a food theme that gets serve three ways, so it keeps the palette interesting. You'll see what I mean in a bit. Michael Mina is received one-star from Michelin and 4 stars from the San Francisco Chronicle in July 2004, along with these accomplishments, he earned many, MANY other recognitions and awards for his 17 restaurants and lounges opened across the United States.
Located in the luxirious Westin St. Francis hotel in Union Square San Francisco, this restaurant is easy to miss if you don't walk into the hotel or know it whereabout. Upon entering, business men and women in business wear as well as some people like me, who get off work and put on a dress and go; nevertheless, the atmosphere was very dim and elegant. The service was superb! They made sure my water cup and wine glass is filled at all time. They explained every dishes that we ordered. Fabulous!

Michael Mina offers Prix Fix menu as well as tasting menu. Vic and I ordered from the Three Course Tasting Menu, which allowed us to choose one of the selections for each of the three courses. Here are some of the things I'd tried:

Chef's Complimentary Amuse Bouche -- Lobster Bisque, Poached Shrimps with Apples and Crab Cake Ball (I think)

The lobster bisque was a bliss! It was warm and creamy and suprisingly light! The poarch shrimps was very good as well, I really like the poachy shirmp contrast with the crisp apple. Asked for the crab cake ball, it was so flavorful! Yum!

Shellfish Trio ~ Fennel Bulb
• Dungeness Crab, Roasted Shallot, Grilled Country Bread
• Island Creek Oysters, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Fennel Rémoulade
• Catalina Island Abalone, Grilled Abalone Mushroom, Pernod Emulsion

Oh my gosh, I love sandwiches, especially when it's grilled! I could really taste the crab in it. The oyster was interesting because I never really had so much in an oyster before other than raw or grilled with lemon juice and tabasco or fried. So this is definitely something different and good. I am never a fan of abalone because of the fishy taste and rough rubbery texture. Although the one I had here was very tender but still, not my favorite.

Ahi Tuna Tartare -- Scotch Bonnet Pepper, Bosc Pear, Sesame Oil

Ah! One of my favorite appetizer is tuna tartare. Michael Mina's was in the 2009 Big Eat List, so I definitely wanted to try it when I saw it. I love how light it is even though it usually is mixed with sesame oil. I could see the tuna is very fresh because the color of the fish is translucently gorgeous! I love how Michael Mina's added pine nuts to it, so it definitely adds a little crunch to the mushy tuna. They serve it with toast, which was just okay. I felt like they needed a bit more toasting.

Brandt Farm Beef ~ Fava Beans and Spring Potatoes
• Filet Mignon, Laratte Potato Purée, Ramp Jus
• Grilled Ribeye, Crushed Fava Bean, Potato Gaufrette
• Braised Ox Tail, Morel Mushrooms, Herb Salad

I had beef as my entree. I love filet mignon and I could not passed on this selection. This filet mignon was really, really good. It was so juicy and tender and it was grilled perfectly! The ribeye was so fat and juicy that it semi-melted in my mouth. The potato gaufrette was so crispy and light. Oh wow, the ox tail was delicious! It was so, so flavorful and tender that it breaks off with a touch of my fork. I love mushroom but the morel was a bit too salty for me.
Maine Lobster Pot Pie -- Brandied Lobster Cream, Seasonal Vegetables

Yum yum yum! Lobster in a pot pie,what could get better than this! Michael Mina's Lobster Pot Pie made it to SF Big Eat List this year and I must say it was well deserved. If you order the Lobster Pot Pie, it is a $35 extra on top of your pre-fix menu, but it was worth it considering you get another two course, a show and a whole Maine lobster to yourself! The waiter brought out a pot with the pot pie crust still on it. He then popped it open, laid it on a plate and reassembled the lobsters that was in the pot onto the plate. Lastly, he poured the lobster cream and vegetables onto it. The preparation and presentation was like a grand show. The lobster was very flavorful--it soaked up all the cream and vegetable juice.  Tt was a very filling dish.
Catherine Schimenti’s Dessert Trio
• Crème Fraîche Panna Cotta, Rubarb
• Chocolate Mousse Cake, Salted Caramel Ice Cream, St. Germain
• Goat Cheese Cake, Poached Rubarb

Onto dessert! I chose the Catherine Schimenti's Dessert Trio just because instead of one dessert, there are three! The panna cotta was interesting, it was very light. I could barely tasted the rubarb reduction though.The chocolate mousse cake was such a contrast to the panna cotta becaues it was so much sweeter and richer. The salted caramel ice cream was delicious! Onto the last one...eck, I dislike goat cheese very much. I have yet to acquire that taste, so I didn't really like it. But must give prop for using goat cheese for a cheesecake.
Michael Mina’s Signature Root Beer Float  with Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Vic ordered the root beef float. It was pretty refreshing and sweet enough for a dessert. The warm chocolate chip cookies are so, so warm and gooey but overwhelmingly sweet. I was crying for salty things after one bite...but it was gooey and good!

Raspberry Macarons and Chocolate Truffle

Before we asked for our check, our waitress brought us some raspberry macarons and chocolate truffle. At this point though, I was so bloated that I could only take a bite of each. The raspberry macaron was not that great. It wasn't chewy nor airy. I could taste the raspberry jam though. Like the chocolate cookies, the chocolate truffle was again, too sweet for me.

I left Michael Mina happy and satisfied. I am amazed at what the menu offer. The dinner was like an art show. I was never bored because there were so much going on to all the food of each course. Even though the portion looked small, oh my gosh, it was actually a truck load! So go in an empty stomach and order the pot pie!

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