Monday, June 23, 2014


I first read about Saison and chef Joshua Skenes (he trained under Jean Georges!) in Bon Appetit, as it made the top 10 list for best restaurants of 2013. That piqued my interest so I dug around some more, and continuing to see so much praise, I added to my "must hit" list. 

You know the protocol of my trips - I often make reservations at restaurants before I even book my airfare. I had done a little bit of research on where to eat for my San Francisco trip, and I had actually made a reservation to go to SPQR , as I figured there was no way I could get a reservation at Saison. On one lucky night, I was randomly checking Open Table in the off chance that Saison may have a reservation, and by some miracle, I saw a spot for three on Friday night. I've been reading a lot about the restaurant, and I realized that by the time I come back to SF again, it may become so popular it would probably be even more impossible to get a reservation, so I jumped on the chance! 
Diners can choose from two options at the restaurant, the tasting menu and the discovery menu, and we went with the tasting menu. We also went with the wine pairing.

We were first served some herbal tea. I haven't seen anything like this before, usually I am served some amuse bouche or "small bites", so this was an interesting twist. 


{Tea from the herbs in the Saison garden}

And now off we go through the courses. 

Our first course was white sturgeon caviar cured and smoked on kelp, on a gelee of grilled bones. 


I must have forgotten to photograph our second course - it was a beignet with vegetables and anchovy. It was very sour and pungent, interesting flavors, but not my favorite course of the night. 

Our third course was a turbot sashimi. I have enjoyed turbot at other restaurants, but I didn't like the sashimi version as much as cooked versions I have had elsewhere. 

Oh, my beloved ocean trout! I first had ocean trout at Orsa & Winston in LA, and fell in love. Here it was again! It must be a California restaurant thing, I haven't seen it in New York (yet)!

Abalone is not something I eat very often, so it was exciting to see it on the menu here. I often associate with the time I was seven and my family and I went to Victoria, Canada and my mom and dad ordered some at a Chinese restaurant. I don't think I tried it then (I was probably face deep in moo shu pork). Our abalone was "roasted over embers" and had a sauce of livers and capers.

Apparently, members of the Saison chef team go foraging for wild flowers for this dish. I thought of saving some wild flowers for Cooper.

Then the servers brought out some parker house rolls. I could have eaten every single loaf made that evening. As you can tell by the photo, it was buttery and melt in your mouth, and even tastier than the monkey bread at Piora! I actually asked if we could have some boxed up to go, and I got a really weird look from our server. What? I wanted a midnight snack!

{This is why I don't fit into my coachella shorts anymore}

I missed taking a photo of the next course, which was halibut with a lime and yogurt sauce.

Then we had a course of grilled asparagus, "cooked in their own juices and then grilled". When our servers first put this plate down, my gut reaction was "are you kidding me, asparagus as a course?". Joke was on me, it was actually very well prepared.

Then we had brassicas dried over the fire. I had no idea what brassicas are, I still don't. I was probably eating more parker house rolls doused in butter when our servers were expalaining this dish. 

This next course was rich and very satisfying. Duck liver with toffee

I don't remember what this was, but the server told me not to eat the wax. It's like he knew I would or something. 

Did someone say morel mushrooms? I love anything with morel mushrooms and a rich sauce. One of our final courses was wood pigeon. It was one of my favorites, after the ocean trout! 

And, the final course of the evening was a rhubarb tart topped with kumquats. C'est parfait!

After our three-hour plus meal, we were ready to duck into our Uber and head home to pass out. If I were to do it again, I would skip the wine pairing (opting for a bottle or half bottle). This was probably one of the most expensive restaurants I have visited lately, the tasting menu is just slightly more than the tasting menu at Eleven Madison Park (the discovery menu is priced at $398 per person). We enjoyed all the flavors and experiences of our meal, but I would be more inclined to try other restaurants in the SF area (i.e. Benu, French Laundry) before heading back here again.

178 Townsend Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 828-7990

Good luck getting reservations, but you can find them on open table! I have recently read that starting in August, chef Joshua Skenes is opening up a special "taste kitchen" available on Saturday nights too, and all the cooking will be done by the chef himself. That sounds like a fun experience!

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