I arrived at Saison a little early around 5.50pm for my 6pm booking and was immediately welcomed into their dining room. They offered to take my coat and quickly escorted me to my table.
It was amazing to see the open kitchen and the hive of activity that was going on. I was quickly offered a glass of champagne which I happily accepted. Very attentive service right from the get-go with a whole team of people at your disposal. The glassware is stunning and light, Zalto imprinted with the Saison logo.
First up was a speciality herbal infused tea, I’m told to wait 30 seconds for the flavour to infuse. As you may or may not know I’m really not a tea fan but this was a flavour sensation!
While enjoying my tea and champagne I’m given the multi-page wine list that was almost too much to grasp. A wine lovers dream though! I’m tempted to just stick with the champagne however as the table next to me ordered the pairing I thought I’d give that a go. At almost the price of the entire menu, it had to be good, right? I’m also offered an additional course of Caviar which I’d seen on their Instagram, I politely declined.
First proper dish up was the lobster, one thing I like about Saison is their passion for using all parts of the animal. I had the lobster tail and lobster on butter with cherry blossom salt, fire roasted pineapple with pineapple skin broth and fresh salad cups. There’s totally more to it but I couldn’t write my notes fast enough. I’m encouraged to get my hands dirty and make a wrap! With a warm hand towel at my disposal of course. The flavours here all combined deliciously no matter what combination I put them in and the dry sake to match just complemented it perfectly.
One thing I note about the staff is they all work perfectly together as a team. From the nineish chefs, I can see working away in the kitchen to the almost double that of service staff constantly humming around like a hive of bees just to bring you the ultimate satisfaction. I made a mess on the table with my salad cups and it was clear within 30 seconds. No fuss, just prompt, inviting service.
Next up is a softer rounder style sake served with a sea urchin toasted in bread, again to enjoy with my hands. However, don’t eat it all at once! I notice the table next to me is getting slightly different pairings and food – nice touch. Interestingly while I’m taking notes I’m told to eat the sea urchin quickly as it doesn’t last that long. So distracted and wanting to enjoy it I forgot to take a photo! It was delightful though and not something I would have normally ordered. Thankfully when the sea urchin at the table next to me arrives they’re only too kind to oblige and let me take a quick snap.
The ambience at Saison is relaxed elegance. I like that when I checked their website it said they had no dress code, a relief when you’ve packed for summer and it’s 8 degrees Celsius and raining in San Francisco! They’re playing 80s music and it has a fun vibe, I’m not sure if I heard the same song twice or if it was because they were all such classics!
My next wine is the Patrick Baudouin Anjou ‘Les Cornillard’ from the Loire Valley in France and it is delicious! For food, it’s the black cod cooked on the fire in seaweed with crispy skin, yoghurt and citrus. Personally, I could have done with a bit more salt, however, I do like things quite salty. My god that citrus and yoghurt sauce was heavenly though and with the wine, you had a perfect match.
Riesling is the next pairing, super interesting and the sommelier tells me it’s his favourite. Not super sweet like you expect a Riesling to be but works well with the dish he tells me. With the Riesling is the beet and marrow dish, beets roasted above the fire for three days with a liquid bone marrow sauce. Actually divine!
Following that, I had the Vieux Chateau Certan from Bordeaux with scotch and chilli butter, pumpkin hot sauce, North American antelope and radicchio. It had a natural sauce made from the antelope trimmings. All served with a buttermilk biscuit topped with paprika. For me the buttermilk biscuit even with the savoury flavour of the paprika was a little sweet and overpowered the antelope just a bit, however, it was a very American flavour. I was at an American restaurant after all!
At times I found the service a little too efficient, the bees were always buzzing and while I love their efficiency sometimes I just want to sit and enjoy the experience.
The antelope broth smelt and tasted amazing! I talked to the table next to me a little bit they were there for her birthday and had previously planned to go to The French Laundry, however, struggled to get a table. They were very happy with this compromise. I had a massive giggle when she said the bone marrow looked like a male part. I will admit she was right and it was hilarious!
Fireplace ice cream with ember caramel sauce, sensational. Fig with baby strawberries, yum, they melt in your mouth. The orange sorbet located inside an actual orange was the highlight of the night! Absolutely to die for. I was literally melting in my seat enjoying every single bite. It was probably the best thing I’ve eaten all year (so far!). Definitely the best dessert I’ve ever had!
I like how unpretentious Saison is, no dress code. I don’t feel bad about using my fingers or bringing the bowl to my face. The 80s music. It’s fine dining but in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. I didn’t feel like leaving straight away so I had another champagne and relaxed.
Overall a delicious evening and I left feeling very lucky and happily full. Would I go again? Yes. If I lived in San Francisco it would be my go-to for any celebration.
Next stop Las Vegas, I know there’s no World Top 50 Restaurants there however if you’ve got suggestions on where to dine, please let me know!