We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Extremely capable, but possibly just a bit too creative”
Review of Cafe Manson - CLOSED

Cafe Manson
Cuisines: American, Diner, Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Description: (509) 888-4197 An (as yet) unheralded gem in a tiny town on Lake Chelan. Owner/chefs are clearly dedicated and trained at a top restaurant in Seattle; food is great, always prepared with fresh ingredients, and very imaginative and tastefully done. Service is friendly and unobtrusive. As food enthusiasts from Seattle, we were delighted to find this great place in Manson.
Reviewed March 17, 2013

The setting is casual/comfortable/foodie chic - Manson is hardly the place for white linen service. The menu options are "focused", which is to say there are typically only 3 or 4 choices for each course. Most items are gluten free but vegetarians are going to have a tougher time as there was no vegetarian entree the night we visited.

Service was efficient and friendly and the kitchen seemed well able to keep up with the flow of orders - we were the last table seated for the night.

The wine list was very reasonably priced, unfortunately so for some of the local wines as far superior foreign alternatives were presented for significantly lower prices than wine made right in the region. Chelan is a very new AVA, and although almost all local wines are quite expensive, the quality seems very hit and miss.

Shrimp Bisque was commendably light and flavorful, and the mushroom plate provided an interesting range of flavors and textures. From the kitchen-garden, pickled green tomatoes provided an excellent cornichon alternative, and a nice spice kick.

I wasn't quite sure if the Iceberg Wedge was offered in an ironic salute to steak houses of the '70s, but it provided a nice salad break between courses.

Duck Confit was competently prepared, but arguably not duck confit at all - and here's where we get to the completely subjective notion of "too creative".

Making Duck Confit is a centuries old process that's extremely well established - the portion of duck is dry cured with salt, garlic and herbs for 24-48 hours. Next, and this is arguably what defines the dish, it is poached in rendered duck fat at a fairly low temperature. This low, slow, poaching not only infuses the entire serving with rich duck flavor, but also leaves it incredibly tender. The duck portions can now be canned or preserved in the cooled fat for quite a long period of time - potentially a year or more if kept cool. To serve, the duck is typically roasted which causes the fat to melt away and leave a crispy finished to the meat - almost like duck baby back ribs!

At Cafe Manson Duck "confit" appeared to be a Chinese 5-spice inspired rub that was then baked/roasted. It was well enough done, but to me it wasn't "confit" at all - it didn't fall apart in the way that confit does, and it definitely lacked the rich almost nutty flavor I associate with confit. If described as spiced, roast duck I wouldn't have had any quarrel with the dish, but unfortunately my heart was set on confit, and expectations in place accordingly. It came with what seemed to be pure mashed pumpkin, but which the menu suggested contained potato too, and chopped kale in a balsamic vinaigrette/reduction. A touch of vinegar is a good add to kale, but here it was just a little more than was called for - again a very subjective opinion.

Shared dessert was a very nice bread pudding, made all the better by the accompaniment of two tastes of complimentary port - a very welcome touch.

So, a thoroughly splendid evening in an extremely promising restaurant. The only negative being that my tastes and those of the kitchen didn't completely align when it came to the entree.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Kevin C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviews (15)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
Language

8 - 12 of 15 reviews

Reviewed February 11, 2013

Found the restaurant by accident searching for a place for dinner. Upon entering we were surprised how busy it was for a Sunday evening. The service was excellent as our waitress was pleasant and professional as she explained the menu. I choose the Beef Stew and my wife had the sole. The chef had prepared risotto as an appetizer which was good. The stew was the best I have ever had, spicy and tasty. The meat was cooked to perfection melting in my mouth with each bite. My wife's sole was every bit as good also. We will return next time we are back in the area on a weekend retreat from Canada.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1  Thank Wayne J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed November 23, 2012

The Cafe Manson in Manson, WA near Lake Chelan is a must. This tiny little hole in the wall is totally surprising. A husband and wife with great chef credentials own and operate this outstanding restaurant. They take special pride in making sure that their diners fell comfortable and at ease. They took time with us, gave us in depth explanations of what, how and why they were preparing our meals in their special way. Our party of six concluded in complete agreement that the food was excellent and there were several different orders from the menu. All their incredients are local and much of it grown by the owners. They also gave us excellent recommendations regarding a couple of small wineries which seem to be the new industry in the Chealn area. It would be smart to get a reservation anytime but especially in season.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1  Thank SteveKink
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed November 17, 2012

It is small and comfortable. The owners are the chefs and they prepare fresh food nightly. Menu changes frequently so we go there often. Excellent. Best restaurant in Chelan area.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank MrHap
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed September 16, 2012

While this is quite a gem in this small town, it falls short on the details.

Pros: They promptly returned voicemails for a reservation and we got in on short notice. The ribs were de-LISH. The chicken was cooked perfectly, with crispy skin and rich flavor. We chose a local wine (Hard Roe to Hoe Cab Franc) and it was amazing. Food was delivered with good timing. Food was simple, elegant and well plated.

Some details I noticed could be improved: the Friday night schedule is confusing; the website says one thing and their voicemail greeting says another. The tabletops and chairs look cheap. The small brown tables are too long; loses a level of intimacy when you sit so far away from your date. The bill was brought in a piece of craft paper with "Admit One" tickets on it (maybe I missed a theme here?). We were charged the full price for a side dish when we subbed it for something and were not told we would be charged (a snarky move in my book). Waiter was not warm or personable. Salad/App dishes looked like they came from a garage sale and didn't match the rest of the dishes. View across the street is a dumpy auto service station; some top-down shades would have been a nice touch.

In a nutshell, this restaurant offers something most restaurants in a tiny little town don't offer; locally sourced elegant food that changes weekly. The chefs know what they're doing in the kitchen. I would return because it's the only "fine" dining restaurant in town, and the food was excellent. The other stuff is just details...

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank ewhitish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing