Saison - SF

Consistently beloved by fellow FTCers, I decided to take the plunge on this trip.

Upon arrival, I inquired about the whole sergio situation and was told that Skenes currently has no intention of rejoining Saison since he’s working on some sort of project in Washington. However, he will still be involved in the creative process going forward.

Despite their recent loss of a Mcchelin star, I’m happy to report that on this particular night, Saison was 3 star worthy to me. In fact, I liked it better than my lovely dinner at Atelier Crenn the night before. There was no modernist techniques or flourish of any sort, but Saison doesn’t need them one bit with the mastery of cooking displayed at Saison. Execution was simply flawless and their ability to coax out the last bit of nuanced flavor was top notch.

Now that we got through the good, let’s talk about what I didn’t care for. This dinner was incredibly expensive and I have doubts about Saison’s QPR. First, we have tiny pours of decently crafted mocktails that were $16 each. You would think that it wasn’t that bad until you realize that they cost about 60% more than the ones I’ve had at at other equivalent fine dining establishments. Secondly, despite splitting 2 supplements, our tab excluding drinks came out close to $500/person and there really wasn’t a lot of food. I wasn’t hungry before my meal began, and I was only satiated after dinner.

So is it worth it? You decide!


gorgeous open kitchen

hot towel to start

inside the envelop is a congratulatory card signed by the entire saison team congratulating my celebration with the missus. nice gesture.

simple but elegant design on their water cups

herb infusion
a simple hot herb-y water to sip on

saison reserve caviar, spinach, seaweed - supplement
hightlight alert! dinner immediately started with a bang! here we have spinach poached in butter and leek broth and pure ocean-y msg masquerading as warm caviar cured in kombu. the dish as a whole is buttery with a hint of smoke and perfectly melded with flavors of the tender spinach and slightly springy seaweed.

mocktail #1: citrus, meyer lemon

sea bream, sesame broth, chili oil, kalamensi, spinach salad
#hightlight kombu cured sea bream is seared skin-side down under embers. the flesh was immensely soft and had the depth of flavor was off the charts! they really didn’t need any condiments but the 3 given condiments gave the dish multiple flavor variations that were equally satisfying.

dungeness crab, cream, black cardamom, grapefruit, finger lime
yet another highlight. this is getting ridiculous! here we have a mix of sweet & succulent lump and shredded crab meat enriched by a dab of cream and citrus-y cardamom oil. but what really brought this over the top was the use of zesty finger lime that gave each bite strangely satisfying pops to contrast against the softness of the crab.

mocktail #2: pineapple, sugarcane, seedlip garden

scallop, sphagetti squash, spiced butter & corn
nicely charred medium rare scallop was tender af. it was paired with a simple and light butter & corn sauce with chili oil drizzled on top.

black cod, bamboo leaf, celeriac, fermented chestnut broth
cod was luscious and flaky as expected while the broth was had a hint of smoke. the star of the dish, however, was the lovely velvety texture of the celeriac puree! on the other hand, the bamboo leaf didn’t really add anything for me except perhaps a slightly rough and chewy texture?

hokkaido uni, sourdough bread
4th hightlight of the night! sweet, creamy, briny, crunchy, sour, nutty…what a gorgeous bite. here we have sourdough bread soaked in brown butter and soy so the outer layer of the bread is soft but the center remained crunchy. the nuttiness and sourness of the soaked bread really complemented with sweet and ocean flavors of the uni. with that said, my preference of uni/bread/toast combo goes to chef’s table at brooklyn fare.

mocktail #3: honey, lime, white verjus

radish, turnip, fermented daikon, shinko pear, fermented daikon broth
this is a study of radish, turnip, and daikon with various preps yielding different flavor profiles and textures. i would say that this was more interesting than delicious.

mocktail #4: black tea, pinot noir

next, we were asked to pick our own knives.

team baratheon anyone?

venison, honey nut squash, black trumpet mushroom, kohlrabi

#hightlight next, we have honey nut squash as a side to our venison. it was twice cooked and brushed with some sort of vinegar and tomato mixture. finally, the flesh was scooped up and topped with toasted parsley & garlic breadcrumb. there was an awesome mix of tartness, sweetness, silkiness from the squash, and crunch and savoriness from the breadcrumb mixture. insanely delicious!

bambi, on the other hand, was lean but dry aged which yielded tender yet meaty flesh. i can’t quite describe what it tastes like but it was flavorful and i loved it.

hida a5 wagyu, hen of the woods mushroom, gem lettuce - supplement
textbook marbling and saison kept it simple with the sides on this one with the gem lettuce dressed up in a tart dressing to act as a counterpoint to the rich wagyu

buffalo milk cheese, mustard greens, apple-pear-quince puree
i wish there were more crisps since i ran out before i finished this velvety but semi-soft mild tasting cheese. it was tangy and grassy.

mocktail #5: citrus, orange blossom, white verjus

dried persimmon, creme fraiche ice cream, persimmon sauce
mild sweetness of the dry and chili spiked persimmon sauce paired well with the richer and tangy creme fraiche ice cream.

dandelion chocolate, milk mousse, milk tea ice cream
@JeetKuneBao @beefnoguy fans of milk tea will love this ice cream which striked a perfect balance between milk and tea flavor.

toasted buckwheat tea
saison capped off the night with a pour of hot tea


Saison
178 Townsend St
San Francisco, CA 94107

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That’s not what he said when he left.

In April, [Skenes] officially walked away from Saison, handing complete control and co-ownership of the restaurant to chef Laurent Gras, who abruptly took over in the kitchen last summer. Aside from equity, the 39-year-old chef now has no involvement whatsoever in the entity

i’m only relaying what saison’s staff told me.

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Great report and photos!
I must admit that for $500 per person (is that before or after tax/service) this is not a lot of food, but it does look exquisite!

thanks for the kind words!

after t&t. contrast that with JR

JR seems like its too much food!

wtf where’s the bread and butter from bella the cow?

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they had a bread course before?!

For clarification, was this a non-alcoholic beverage?

As always, I am in awe of your photos and detailed analysis.

thanks! i just wanna give back to ftc since i used it quite a bit before i became a member.

correct. i believe the pinot noir refers to the grape juice rather than the actual wine.

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I did not know this was a thing; thank you!

pinot noir itself is “just” a grape like concord or thompson.

Until it’s fermented…and becomes Pinot Noir!

At Vespertine they offered Gewürztraminer juice.

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Angler, where Skenes is chef rather than just an equity partner.

Quite possibly both from Navarro, which makes the best wine-grape juices I’ve had, as well as the best verjuice. One time I tasted a ten-year-old Gewürztraminer, which had developed some of the character of aged wine.

https://www.navarrowine.com/shop/non-alcoholic-grape-juices

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Whoa! I had no idea. I was curious about that verjus as well. Whether Saison would make their own or have some cool sourcing. Makes sense.

Always wanted to try this recipe

The English word is verjuice. The English and French both learned to make it from the Romans. It’s not a kind of vinegar. You can get green grapes suitable for making verjuice at Persian markets in season.

https://coquinaria.nl/en/verjuice/

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/08/recipe-ab-ghooreh-persian-verjuice/61623/

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That coquinaria link is a great read!

As far as actual use goes this is the verjus I’m most familiar with. Used to love messing with it in cocktails. incorporate it into a daiquiri or even mixed with calvados and citrus

To get back on track, $16 seems crazy per mocktail. I have a hard time imagining any quality of product/labor involved that could warrant the price.

I don’t like that brand, tasted weird to me. The Persian stuff is better and cheaper.

I use verjuice mostly as a substitute for vinegar to make a dish wine-friendly.

imagine my shock seeing that tab and that’s before t&t :see_no_evil:

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@Robert you have a Persian brand you like?

That was what we used at work. I’ve never sought any out of my own though seeing this post reminded me of my desire to. I found the Fusion brand to be a little cloying though as a flavor I thought it still worked as a background ingredient.