Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Saison, SF. Amazing.

This is definitely one of my favourite meals this year alongside the incredible sushi dinner at Sawada.

The aesthetics are modern minimalist but gorgeous. The cooking philosophy is the celebration of the return to roots of cooking by and around fire and respect purity of ingredients.

The food is phenomenally good. Chef Joshua Skenes is a very gifted chef. The kitchen puts out creative plates made with modern techniques and the old craft of fanning flames to achieve differing degrees and effects of fire - to roast, char and to fire-kiss.

There are Japanese sensibilities in the cooking and the plating. We were presented an striped jack kissed by a coal and the roasted bone gelee and a lamb tartare that looked but tasted nothing like pieces of sushi and a bowl of dehydrated mustard leaves with seaweed broth and mixed grains made me think of an ochazuke but a more powerfully flavoured version of it. This common theme carried on from the savoury to the sweet courses, buckwheat for dessert? Buckwheat soufflé, ice cream and roasted buckwheat tea, not too sweet, nutty and light, this dessert was right up my alley.

Not everything points Japanese and not all the flavours are familiar. Some flavour combinations are out of this world. Toffee, bread, milk, beer – a duck liver toffee, caramelised white chocolate, beer foam and crunchy bread with about another 10 different elements is something that when the server announces doesn’t make sense but somehow in your mouth it does. I wondered out loud, I wonder how the chef managed to come up with this combination, imagination and smoking I believe was the response I got. And I believe them. Whatever it is, it works, Saison produces an amazing gastronomic experience.

The evening begins with a couple of drinks. We were welcomed with a glass of Krug, cheers to good start for a splendid dinner – we are here yay!! And then once seated, our palates were refreshed with a glass smoked sage soda, pineapple espuma and garnished with the tiniest coriander blossoms.

cheers with krug

soda, smoked pineapple, soda

And this was the rest of the meal -

custard, grilled turnip, sea urchin

reserve caviar, corn pudding, tomato gelee

striped jack, cherry blossom

live scallop, avocado, trumpet lily

king salmon, its roe, vichysoisse

king salmon, its roe, vichysoisse

abalone, roasted over the embers

tomato, sungold tomato, safflower oil, grilled tomatillo consommé
spot prawn, swarnadipa spices, yoghurt, mandarin

melon, melon soup, fermented melon skin, coconut, ham

melon, melon soup, fermented melon skin, coconut, ham
60 day lamb, slow grilled nightshades

brassicas, toasted grains, wild seaweed bouillon

toffee, bread, milk, beer

wood pigeon, boudin, warm spices, dates

raspberry, meyer lemon, basil buds

buckwheat, soufflé and ice cream

sesame cake with duche de leche and kinako

liquid molten vanilla bean truffle

chrysanthemum macaroons

a very good canele

Let’s get a few obvious questions out of the way.
Was it expensive? Yes. (eater did feature it as #7 in their list of most expensive tasting menus in American, Jan 2013)
Was the food good? Yes. It was very very good.
Was it worth it? Yes.
Will I go back again? Yes, absolutely.

178 Townsend Street
San Francisco

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