Saison San Francisco

Hubby and I felt that a milestone birthday was excuse enough for a star-studded event, and in our case the stars referred to the culinary ne plus ultra known as Michelin stars.  But don’t misunderstand me: I don’t wait with bated breath for the yearly release of the Michelin Guide; I just happen to have some culinary savvy friends who are well-versed in the art of fine dining and drinking.  So when we mentioned we would be in the SF area for my bday, there were two recommendations they gave us: Benu and Saison.  In the fall of 2014, Benu and Saison, both two-starred restaurants, were upgraded to the highly coveted status of three Michelin stars.  I called both, understanding that it may require an act of God to get a reservation.  Benu was out of the question, even with help from the fine folks at American Express Platinum Travel.  However, someone may have been smiling down on me from heaven when I called Saison, as there was one small table in the bar available for us at 8:45 pm.

The whole experience was near perfection, from the moment we walked in and were seated at our cozy table à deux, to our parting gift of tea leaves from the Saison garden.  In between, there was a parade of darling waiters who catered to our every whim, 18 beautifully executed courses (see below) with paired wines, and lastly, a tour of the kitchen and upstairs pantry.  It was one of those times I pray I remember every succulent detail created by the uber talented Chef Joshua Skenes.

There is some critique about the music, of all things, which happens to be mainly 80’s hits, plus a little Captain and Tennille thrown into the mix.  I happen to enjoy that kind of thing, as it definitely transports me to a happy place.  I mean, when was the last time you heard “Love Will Keep Us Together”?  I personally felt it was a good omen.  Oh, and price is another critique you may read about on Yelp and other such websites.  Certainly, there was an audible gasp that could be heard clear across the Golden Gate Bridge when the check arrived, but by that time we were so liquored up that we thought it was funny…YOLO, right?  Yikes.  I even found myself hugging the wait staff goodbye like we were long lost college buddies.  Those of you who know me can totally picture that scene.  I like to think it is one of the many endearing qualities I inherited from my sweet mother.

On the to tasting menu.  Saison, from the French word for “season”, highlights the freshest ingredients in season, some of which is grown in their garden.  The menu therefore changes periodically.  Email the restaurant for the daily menu and price (see restaurant information at the end of post).  Even though our menu contained numerous courses, many centered around vegetables and seafood which made for a lighter experience than one would expect.  In other words, you won’t feel like the large diner from the Monty Python skit (you know the one with the bucket).  I should add that, with the exception of the duck dish, wooden spoons and chop sticks were the utensils of choice.  Very Japanese, which you know I love.  Bon apétit!

Le Menu
January 29, 2015
Infusion of some herbs from the Saison garden
Peppers, preserved in the wood burning oven, buttermilk
Black Cod, grilled mushrooms, pine boullion
Lobster, warmed over the coals
Battle Creek Trout, its skin & roe
Abalone, grilled over the embers, sauce of the liver and capers, grilled pork jowl
Sea Urchin, liquid toast
Dungeness Crab, the whole thing
Seaweeds, in seaweed vinegar
Brussels & Cabbages, blistered in the fire
Naples Long Pumpkin, hung over the fire for 3 days
Fire in the Sky Beet
Whole Duck, grilled near the fire, a bouillon of the grilled duck bones
Red Hawk Mousseline, yali pears
Ice Cream & Caramel, cooked in the fire (plus a little birthday cake, which they called coffee and chocolate fois gras…see above)
Tea & Persimmon


Infusion of some herbs from the garden


Battle Creek Trout, its skin & roe


Brussels & Cabbages, blistered in the fire


Fermented pumpkin is one of the three ways the Naples pumpkin is served


Fire in the Sky Beet


Whole Duck, grilled near the fire, a bouillon of the grilled duck bones


 Buckwheat Tea


Views of the kitchen



I dream about a kitchen so orderly


I have to buy a label maker, and some jars


Swarnadwipa?  Trout Cure?  Thank goodness for Google…


Quack quack


This is Naples Long Pumpkin, in case you were wondering

178 Townsend Street
San Francisco, CA  94017
Tuesday – Saturday 5:30 – 9:30

xo M

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