Here’s a sneak peep into California’s most expensive restaurant, the three Michelin-starred, Saison San Francisco.
It was our first night in San Francisco (which also happened to be my boyfriend’s birthday), I figured what better way to introduce him to Californian cuisine than with an epic and unforgettable eating experience? Saison is located in the trendy SoMa district of San Francisco and is curated by renowned chef Joshua Skrenes. The restaurant has skyrocketed in popularity and already has three Michelin stars. This year, Saison jumped to #27 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, up from #56 in last year’s ranking. But is the hefty $400 per person price tag worth all the hype?
Saison is known for its seasonal menu of 12-18 courses that changes daily. The portions are tiny, but the execution is meticulous. We never got bored once through the whole meal. Every plate was immaculate. Each course was presented and packaged in gorgeous handcrafted plate ware from all over the world. The menu showcases the highest-quality local produce, but is guided by what is best on that very day, giving a whole new meaning to seasonality. Our tasting menu included: amberjack, Saison’s own reserve caviar, hairy pig, black cod, and a range of vegetarian friendly dishes. We even had a chance to try Skenes’ infamous ‘Liquid Toast,’ which is a dish comprised of glazed sea urchin served on crusty bread soaked in a rich sauce of grilled bread (pictured below). I had never had sea urchin before and it was unexpectedly yummy!
The impressive open-plan restaurant combines stark industrial elements with soft organic furnishings in a room where exposed brick meets comfy booths with plush pillows and Scandinavian faux fur. Not to mention, we had the best seat in the house. A comfy booth nestled right beside the fully exposed, barrier-free kitchen meant we had a front row seat to the magic of Chef Skrenes and his sous chefs.
The impeccable service actually started during the reservation phase. I saw on OpenTable that they were completely booked through the week, but I figured I’d push my luck and sent an email to the concierge, Janet. Janet was such pleasure to work with. She surely made everything came together- from finding us a timeslot at 9pm, instead of 7pm so we had time to relax after our long flight to making sure we were seated immediately in the best seat in the restaurant, right next to the kitchen. I definitely got added to my Christmas card list! The chefs and staffed checked on our table frequently and presented and explained each course with such precision. Our sommelier actually was able to find a bottle of wine from 1983 (my boyfriend’s birth year) from our favorite Italian vineyard. They definitely went above & beyond. As we departed, we were even gifted with a Saison branded goody bag that included his & her t-shirts, a signed menu from Chef Skenes, and a variety of Saison homemade treats, like the ember caramel, farm tea and Saison hot sauce.
Casual luxury. There’s no dress code at Saison, where a soundtrack of 1980s or 1990s rock classics plays in the background.
For $398 per person for the tasting menu, plus cocktails, wine and taxes and gratuity, the end bill was close to $2000. The experience was worth damn every penny. We actually skipped one course because we were so jetlagged. Of course, I made sure I had room for the oh so gooey vanilla bourbon ice cream covered in ember caramel, which had been cooked in the fireplace, then delicately dusted with flakes of 14k carat gold. Saison is a place where you become hyper-aware of your changing palette as the meal progresses. So many new tastes, new ingredients; things I never imagined I’d ever put in my mouth—I did… and I didn’t mind.
Saison San Francisco 178 Townsend St. San Francisco, CA 94107 www.saisonsf.com