Aubergine at L'Auberge Carmel

Innovative California cuisine in quaint Carmel

Nestled in the one-square-mile fairytale forest of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel is a fine-dining experience with an anachronistic twist. Behind an unassuming 1929 European-style façade, executive chef Justin Cogley creates inspired modern works of culinary art that celebrate his surroundings.

The menu at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant is itself an artistic hint at the delights to come. Rather than descriptions of dishes, the elegant vellum sheet is adorned with delicate drawings that illustrate an accompanying list of ingredients, all of which will be featured during the evening’s multi-course prix fixe tasting.

The specifics, however, are driven by that day’s locally sourced seasonal ingredients and chef Cogley’s imagination.

Beyond the California coastal cuisine, every detail at Aubergine — from the carefully chosen tableware to the muted sea-green kelp-inspired curtains and custom sconces — is an homage to the enchanted environs.

Our Inspector's Highlights

  • The inn’s rustic single door entrance gives way to a keyhole-like view of the lavish courtyard, where you can enjoy before-dinner drinks and small bites.
  • Cocktails and small bites are also available in the salon, where the fireplace and fresh bouquets evoke a European country home.
  • The extremely knowledgeable staff prides itself on service that is attentive but not intrusive. Expect to be tended to by several sommeliers and servers, each providing expert selection assistance and engaging lessons about the preparation and origin of each dish.
  • The presentation is picturesque and breathtaking. Colors and textures are complemented by local plants, serving shells, wooden boards and rock imprint bowls, each of which are handmade and unique.
  • While the eight-course tasting menu is standard, several days of each month are devoted to special offerings, which are listed in advance onAubergine’s website.

Things to Know

  • Expect to spend approximately two-and-a-half hours enjoying your multi-course tasting menu and tour of the kitchen.
  • The dress code is smart business casual. Men are encouraged to wear jackets (ties are optional), and shorts, T-shirts and tennis shoes are not permitted.
  • Reservations are recommended at least one month in advance for the intimate nine-table dining room.
  • The dining room seats parties of four or fewer. The wine cellar accommodates parties of six to 10, and can also be reserved for smaller, private gatherings.

The Food

  • Monterey-raised red abalone is a specialty of the Carmel restaurant, prepared and served in a variety of contemporary and surprising ways. This delicacy is often accompanied by local seaweed and cranberry beans.
  • Not to be missed is the one imported ingredient — wagyu beef from the Miyazaki Prefecture in Japan — which is presented pre-plating and then triple seared over Japanesecoals.
  • Pastry chef Yolanda Santos’ complex and beautiful desserts contrast decadent sweets with feather-light accents, like a housemade anise hyssop ice cream and wild blackberries.
  • Aubergine's hotel-guests-only breakfast is served from in the dining room on a first-come, first-served basis. This fresh take on a traditional French morning meal includes housemade pastries and jam, fresh-squeezed orange juice, a fruit plate, two eggs and local coffee.

The Drinks

  • Aubergine’s 2,500-bottle cellar, located below the inn’s courtyard, boasts a worldwide selection that specifically spotlights wines from Monterey County and France. A sommelier’s pairing is offered with each menu, as is a reserve option.
  • The extensive wine list provides an impressive variety of sparkling vintages and ciders, many available by the glass.
  • In addition to a robust selection of craft beers, the salon menu features a changing assortment of three original, inventive cocktails like the Bellissimo, a gorgeous layered drink that blends gin, absinthe, elderflower, lemon, honey and egg white.

Business casual
Private dining
Reservations recommended
Getting There
Monte Verde at Seventh, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, 93921
Aubergine at L'Auberge Carmel
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