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“Fantastic! Food, wine pairings and Service spot on”

Aubergine at L'Auberge Carmel
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Ranked #64 of 161 Restaurants in Carmel
Price range: US$150 - US$295
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Restaurant details
Good for: Special Occasion Dining, Local cuisine, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Cross street: 7th
Description: Executive Chef Justin Cogley's and Executive Pastry Chef Ron Mendoza's cooking philosophy is built first and foremost on spontaneity. With access to an array of outstanding local products as well as ingredients and artisan purveyors from around the world, Cogley and Mendoza focus on incorporating these elements into their ever-changing menus.
Reviewed 23 May 2014 via mobile

Came across this place seeking to use the bathroom and hotel wifi and asked if we could get in on Saturday. We snagged the last reservation at 8:45pm

Then I started to read reviews online of which some were not very complimentary. I had no clue what to expect but planned on the chefs 8 course tasting menu with reset wine pairings. Also, instead of the upgrade to Kobe beef asked for a 4 oz additional at the $32 a oz supplement so we could compare.

Everything exceeded our expectations from seating to kitchen tour.

Food, pairings, service spot on. Comfortable cozy dining room.

Food used lots of local ingredients in a very good way!

Loved this place.

We did the reserve pairing and it was worth it. I was skeptical but the wines were excellent, some aged.

My only disappointment was not ordering a optional cheese course as it looked great but we had to much to eat

2  Thank Richard N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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105 - 109 of 197 reviews

Reviewed 5 April 2014

The 7-course tasting menu was fabulous, elegantly prepared and presented. Amazing combining of ingredients for unique dishes. Oysters, lamb, veal, kamachi, and many more. The service was excellent, and staff were very knowledgable and welcoming. What a treat to be invited into the kitchen, to meet the chef d'cuisine, and have him sign the menu. One of our top ten meals ever!

Thank Jrryo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 March 2014

This is an excellent restaurant. But beware, if you opt for the supplement, you are easily nudging close to The French Laundry territory in terms of price. The portion of the tasting menu is on the small size, especially given the number of courses offered. The food was excellent. Very creative especially if you like fresh seafood (ie Uni, oysters, etc) and Kobe beef. Our supplemental Kobe beef was perfectly marbled and cooked to perfection; however, in my opinion, the supplement is on the steep side. We were a little disappointed by the wine pairing though. Since we were the first party there, we had excellent service. By the time we left, the restaurant was almost filled to capacity. Lastly, we got a tour of the kitchen and met the chef. Mr. Cogley is a very humble and personable guy. Highly recommend the restaurant for special occasions, but the price rating on Tripadviser ($40-$50) is a "little" off. Go early since you definitely want to spend plenty of time dining (plus the service gets a little slower later in the evening as the place gets crowded...even though its a small and cozy restaurant).

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Thank ppts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 February 2014

Food & Wine named chef Justin Cogley "Best New Chef for 2013" so in the waning days of 2013, we decided to see what this best new chef could do. To begin with, as other reviewers have mentioned, Aubergine requires a copy of your credit card in advance and practically a signed affidavit that you'll show up at your reserved time. That was a bit off-putting.

Although L'Auberge has a charming lobby and courtyard, the restaurant itself is small and disappointingly minimalist. There is a cadre of staff overseeing the dining experience, which, in our case, was $115 pp with an additional $89 wine pairing. The prix fixe offerings were minimalist as well. Of the two starters, one (Ostrega caviar) had an $90 an ounce supplement. Likewise, of the four entree choices, one had an $89 an ounce supplement, with a four ounce minimum. If you stuck with the "ordinary" $115 meal, you felt you were being cheap.

Our son, not seeing the "supplement" in the fine print, order six ounces of the beef, which must have been flown in from Ft. Knox. As soon as the waiter left, we explained to our son that he had just ordered $530 worth of beef for dinner -- on top of the $115 standing charge. As soon as the waiter returned with our amuse-bouche (the highlight of the meal), he changed his order.

The plating brought to mind the old nouvelle cuisine days: a gigantic white charger making the artfully arranged specks of food seem even slighter. And truthfully, even with the small portions, there was nothing I really wanted more of. It wasn't bad; it just wasn't memorable.

We didn't do the wine pairings, instead ordered two bottles of wine, and the sommelier at Aubergine is terrific. Local wines are categorized by micro-districts: the Santa Lucia Highlands, Carmel Valley, etc. It's impressive, and the wines she helped us select were excellent.

Dinner includes a visit to the kitchen, which our son pronounced the cleanest restaurant kitchen he had ever seen. I kept looking for the utensils.

When the bill for four of us arrived, it was $1,400. In a tiny, less than 20-seat restaurant, they hadn't remembered to deduct the 6-ounces of pricey beef. After adjusting the bill, it was about $850 before tip.

For that amount, I want to swoon over the food, not the tab. I want every moment to be incredibly special. Our daughter, who works in Silicon Valley, says that Aubergine probably caters to the Silicon Valley billionaires, who don't care how much the meal costs. For the rest of us, there are other great restaurants in Carmel and a couple in Monterey where you'll enjoy the meal, even as you're fishing out your credit card.

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    • Food
4  Thank LilyK88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 January 2014

We went to L'Aubergine (ie, the Eggplant) for New Years Eve Dinner. The process started with a reservation backed by a credit card (okay so far) and then followed by a signed agreement that we had to send in to reserve our table. Huh? Seemed a bit more absurd after we arrived as the place was half empty. To be fair, I generally prefer hardy fare to haute cuisine, but also do enjoy high end establishments where the food and service reflect a higher level of effort that in turn is consistent with the price. You can go from the best of both worlds to the worst when these aspiring restaurants miss, which is my view of this restaurant.

The service was orchestrated, deliberate and timely, which is the good part. What one might expect in a better restaurant. I have no idea where the staff was from as they all spoke in this stilted, upper class kind of Downton Abbey "pretend" speak. Like the European car salesman who fakes an Italian accent. It seems like the whole show is more about the restaurant than the guests, and I never much care for that level of pretense. I also do not care much for the longer description of what we are about to eat, particularly when hungry, that implies we are almost participating in some form of sacred or religious ceremony. The food was reasonably good, but there frankly was not enough of it to know. At $115 per person, with a 20% service fee on top when you walk in the door, I did not expect to leave feeling hungry or as dissatisfied as I was. The menu was set with the choice of fish or lamb or, for those who wanted red meat, the Japanese steak for a minimum supplement of $128 ($32 per ounce). Pity the poor fellow who misreads the menu and orders a $240 steak.

I very much doubt we will repeat this event in the future, which may appeal to others more than us. Too many good and enjoyable restaurants in Carmel that have better respect for the customer's restaurant dollar.

5  Thank Francophile94027
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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