Friday, June 12, 2009


by Michael Mina
Marriott at San Jose, CA

As much as I want to say I was impressed, the place didn't sweep me off my feet. This is a grand location. Contemporary and clean, with no personality. Everything is white tableclothes and black napkins. Too bad it lacked the kick. Still, the bulk of the food was good. Menu descriptions were off, but thus is the snooty locale.

We had a nice evening here, very relaxed in the grand celebration of the occasion. The chocolate chip cookies were perhaps the most enticing items to tempt me again. The steak, I must say, was right on.

Sauvignon, Kim Crawford, 2006
Delicious, another great pairing with the fish items, and fries! Also, enjoyable as-is.

Duck Fat Fries
Now these are a catch for the price. They taste like regular french fries, with a particular salty oil. They are medium fried. We enjoyed them. The shell was heavy, but these are good. Served with ketchup.

Okay, we have Olive, Sweet Bread (really a Rustic Italian or Ciabatta), and a Sourdough Baguette.

The sourdough was fresh and had remnants of dough texture, while the Olive was the most superb in smooth texture and flavor. Genuine and smooth, so smooth with a bit of oil. The sweet bread was not sweet, but it was delicious and served warm, and it is most like a Ciabatta.

There is the large Rustic/Ciabatta. It was simply rustic. A bit of olive oil involved.

Roasted Tomato Soup
Basil and Lobster Grilled Cheese, $10

Didn't have the soup, but this was surely a real meal, even as a starter. Just skip the soup and dig into the mini sandwiches.

Lobster Grilled Cheese,
accompanying the soup

Surprise dish. I hadn't expected someone to throw this at me, but this sandwich was quite the experience. The lobster was meaty and the cheese was like a mild emanthelier. Divine. Perfectly grilled with gooeiness inside, warm lobster nuzzled inside.

Phyllo-Dusted Sole
Fines Herbs Brandade, Seasonal Vegetables, Sauce Dijon, $29

One thing I've learned in these restaurants is that vegetables means starch. The baby root carrots are always a treat because of the gourmet picking. Hard to find in regular grocery marts -- they are from the farmers.

The sole was murdered. There was hardly any meat in this. They were flat medallions, like well-done veal. All I could taste was fried butter. It was unfortunate. I ended up eating off of my neighbors plates. Embarassing, but the steak was by far the better option. Michael does not do Sole well. I was disappointed with this dish. No one was impressed with this.

Side of Asparagus
If it weren't for these, I would have starved. These were scrumptious.

I did like the carrots. The rest of the veggies were peas.

Kobe Skirt Steak
Juicy, ooh, and way better than the rib eye, which was tougher. The Kobe steak was so tender and juicy! This outshone the other menu items.

Michael's Root Beer Float
Sassafras Ice Cream, Root Beer Sorbet,
Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies

This was a straight root beer float, presented in a classic, tall parfait glass. The presentation was beautiful. The chocolate chip cookies were perhaps the best items on the menu. Gooey, soft, warm, and richly flavorful. The ultimate temptation. Sinful.

Valrhona Chocolate Molten Cake,
Salty Caramel Ice Cream,
Hazelnut Crunch

We tasted the salt, alright! Salty ice cream... uhh. The molten cake was OK, but nothing memorable.

There is a way to do this affordably! For example: The Duck Fat Fries are only $4, and the Lobster Grilled Cheese with Soup is a full meal! Only $10. Spend wisely, and leave happy. That lobster grilled cheese was something special.

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