Aubergine is the fine-dining jewel of L’Auberge Carmel, a Relais & Châteaux hotel in Carmel-by-the-Sea, steps away from the ocean in this romantic hamlet. The kitchen at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant is run by Justin Cogley, who spent time working with star chef Charlie Trotter in Chicago. He creates sophisticated and modern California cuisine in the historic white stucco building inspired by a European inn. The intimate dining room — it holds between 10 and 12 tables — offers two prix fixe menu options each evening. The $110 menu is composed of four courses with a series of choices while Chef’s Daily Tasting Menu ($125) allows chef Cogley to demonstrate his artistry and imagination as he takes you on a gastronomic adventure inspired by fresh ingredients selected daily. Wine pairings from the cellar’s 4,500-bottle collection are available for both menus at a supplemental charge. The wine list reaches all regions of the world with an emphasis on Monterey County and French pours. Aubergine also has a separate wine cellar dining room suitable for private parties up to 12 guests.