Help LA CH: Fleur de Lys- Any recommendations?
I'm going to be up in SF next weekend and have reservations for fleur de lys on Thur night. I did a search on the SF board and there doesn't seem to be any new reviews on this restaurant. Comments on CH seem to state that the restaurant has gone downhill recently. Is this the consensus? Also if anyone has any recommendations of what to order, I'd really apreciate it!
After discussing with my friend, we've decided to give FDL a chance, despite some bad reviews. This being, restaurants may have their bad days, and also your experiences differ based on what dishes you order. We recently dined at the lovely Campanile in Los Angeles and were disappointed (whereas we've had amazing meals there prior). Here's hoping FDL doesn't disappoint me! I'll report back for sure!
Thanks for your help! I went to FDL last Thursday and loved it ;-) Here's my review (it's a little long, sorry!)
Photos here: http://stuffycheaks.blogspot.com/2009...
I was in San Francisco for the Outside Lands Festival and since the city houses many amazing restaurants, we decided to fly in an evening earlier. As an avid Top Chef viewer, I was excited to visit Hubert Keller's Fleur de Lys.
Our waiter Stephen came by to take some drink orders and explain how the menu works. 3 courses for $70, 4 for $79 or 5 courses for $92. Wine pairing is also available for an additional fee. Given that it was almost 9pm, we did not want to overdo it and decided on the three course menu. The menu is French cuisine, with some German and Swiss influences as Chef Keller is from the Alsace region. As such, you'll see some hearty rich dishes, and some lovely desserts.
The service was definitely a little slow in the beginning which isn't necessarily an issue as this is a fine dining establishment and they probably did not want to rush us. However we were trying to flag down the bread lady so that we could have at least something to eat before drinking. She finally came by after our waiter had taken our orders, which was over 20 minutes after we were seated.
There were three bread options: Olive, Pistachio and traditional French baguette. The Pistachio bread was my favorite. The bread had a nutty flavor and was a little sweet from the apricot bits.
We ordered a round of cocktails. Cucumber vodka, elderflower and basil which was a refreshing drink with just the right amount of sweetness.
Amuse Bouche #1: Squash soup and fava bean puree, topped with a toasted fava bean and Parmesan slice. The soup was hearty and delicious. I also loved the fava bean puree. It was thick and the bright green color was so vibrant against the orangeness of the squash soup. Nice contrast.
Amuse Bouche #2: Yes, there were two which was a pleasant surprise.
Truffled madeleine, watermelon gelee with cucumber cream, grilled watermelon and a drop of lemon balsamic vinaigrette. The watermelon was refreshing, sweet and cut the saltiness of the prior amuse bouche. The madeleine was our favorite. Little specks of precious truffle cooked in the buttery and spongy madeleine.
Starter #1 Sweetbreads with poached egg and leeks. Sweetbreads, if not cooked properly, can be a little pungent and rubbery. These sweetbreads were delicious: a slight crispiness on the outside and silkiness in the inside. I also liked the simmered leeks sitting under the sweetbreads which were seasoned well.
Starter #2 Choucroute with caviar, beef tartare, frisee with lemon vinaigrette and foie burger. Choucroute is the French version of sauerkraut. The foie slider was definitely the winner as it was a rich bite of liver and bread.
Starter #3 Dungeness crab with frisee salad, beets and goat cheese, and caviar and foie mousse. This dish was just alright. The crab salad was not different from what you could get elsewhere. The plating looked strangely similar to the Choucroute starter.
We decided to order a bottle of pinot noir, however they ran out of the wine that we had requested (Whitehaven Pinot Noir from New Zealand). The Sommelier recommended something better (but charged us the same price as the Whitehaven) - the Talbott Pinot Noir from Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. Yes- the clothing store, and No- not the movie. The pinot noir was very smooth and a good choice for the heavy meat entrees that we had ordered.
Entree #1 Mustard pretzel crusted beef cheeks on spaetzal, with a sauerkraut gratin. The beef cheeks were tender and flavorful, however the portion was perhaps a bit too generous when compared to some of the other entrees. The pretzel topping was such a unique crust and very German. The gratin was light which was a good pairing with the heavy meat on the plate. And last but not least, the starchy spaetzal that was immersed in the rich beef cheek sauce. Delish!
Entree #2 Quail with parsnip, crispy leeks ad foie. The foie was a small piece sitting on the parsnips and fried leeks. I thought that the quail was cooked perfectly and was juicy. The little carrots on the plate were sauteed and very flavorful. This was a simple dish but the flavors were all there. What I've noticed about all the dishes is that everything on the plate is there for a purpose; you will not find a stray garnish at Fleur de Lys.
Entee #3 Duo of lamb: Tagine of lamb and rack of lamb. Another very generous portion; in most other fine restaurants, you would only get one part of this dish. Both versions of the lamb were tender and the Israeli couscous was flavorful. Although this dish was good, I thought the two parts were a little disconnected since both portions were large and seemed like their own separate dish.
Now, on to dessert.
Dessert #1 Chocolate souffle with Kirsch ice cream. Chocolate was poured table side which I thought was a nice touch. Kirsch is a fruit brandy, however I did not taste it in this dessert. The souffle was good but a little ordinary.
Dessert #2 Fleurburger: Faux burger with passion fruit gelee as the cheese, kiwi as the letteuce, chocolate ganache with pistachio as the patty, strawberry as the tomato and a brioche bun, served with a shot of banana milk shake and fennel ice cream in the shape of pomme frites. Wow! Firstly, the colors are beautiful. Secondly, this dessert was so inventive and a playful tribute to the burger which apparently is something that Chef Keller loves (We saw the foie burger earlier, and he has another restaurant in Las Vegas called the Burger Bar). The pomme frite ice cream was delicious, however the milk shake was not memorable.
Dessert/Cheese #3 Cheese plate: a variety of French cheeses. served with a side of marcona almonds and olives. The cheese selection was nothing spectacular.
Mignardises that included little tarts and chocolate covered strawberries. At this point, we were too full to even finish this plate.
After observing the drunken display of a young woman at the next table, asking for the most potent absinthe and insisting that Mrs Keller watch her do the shot (which she did), we decided to share one between the three of us.
We decided to try the Lucid brand which was one of the first brands that was legally imported into the U.S. The whole distilling process is such a ritual. Our Sommelier wheeled over the cart full of Absinthe paraphernalia. He placed a sugar cube on a slotted spoon on top of a glass of Absinthe. Then he proceeded to pour cold water onto the spoon which dissolves the sugar in the Absinthe. Lastly he lit up the concoction and poured it for three apprehensive guests.
I have to say that I found it extremely strong and repulsive, and was struggling hard to take a few sips. I suppose I do not have the palate for it. However I thought the presentation was lovely.
We left the restaurant highly impressed. With only three courses, it was still an epic meal but not at all boring. Although it did take a while for the bread and our initial cocktails to arrive, the rest of the meal was well paced. The portions were generous and hearty, and the dishes were creative. There was definitely an attention to detail in conception of the dishes as well as in the plating. And to top it off, $120 per person before tip was very reasonable for a three course meal + cocktails + bottle of wine + Absinthe drink at a Michelin Starred restaurant.
The service was also impeccable. The hostess was very bubbly and accommodating when I called to let them know that we were running a half hour late. Our waiter, Stephen was knowledgeable, a little comedic and very attentive. The Sommelier/manager, Marcus did well on the wine selection and worked expertly in distilling the Absinthe. He also called us a town car when we were leaving (at a taxi fare). Chef Keller was not there that evening as he was out of town, but his lovely wife came by at the end of the night to bid us farewell and to thank us for coming.
Hits: Lovely presentation, service, pistachio bread, all the appetizers especially the foie burger, quail, beef cheeks
Misses: Absinthe, cheese plate was underwhelming especially for a French restaurant
Fleur De Lys
777 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94109
For some reason with FdL I always felt like it was important that Hubert Keller was in the kitchen. When he's there, the food is superb and you can expect a memorable meal, but when he's elsewhere, the food can be a huge toss up with some dishes being very mediocre. That said, I'm a big fan of him and can't wait for Burger Bar in union square!
Based upon this thread, it seems like you may be considering elsewhere. Let me give a ringing endorsement to La Folie. My report from 3 weeks ago is here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/639677
Another top restaurant to consider is The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton. Ask if they can do a 4 or 5 course tasting menu from the a la carte menu if you go.
The other top restaurants in the city include:
Coi (11 course cutting edge pre fixe, very light on the red meat
)Gary Danko (very CA)
Boulevard (very CA, more casual)
Ame (super-unique French/Italian/Japanese fusion, a bit businessy)
Acquerello (Italian with French accents)
I ate at FDL last Saturday night. The room was beautiful, the sommelier excellent, but the food was not remarkable. Nothing was bad, but at that price point I'm looking for multiple "wow dishes." Honestly, the most memorable coursse of our five course dinner was the cheese course.
Note the menu online is not current.
Based on this one experience, I'd suggest going elsewhere.
I've not been in a few years, and I've seen the same thing -- people saying the restaurant may have slipped a little since Hubert opened one in Vegas. That being said, looking at the current menu, I've had several of those dishes. Specific reccomendations would be for the roast lobster with artichoke, citrus, porcini oil appetizer and the duo of veal for the meat course.
Yes, I've seen some negative reports on this board but, elsewhere, I've heard some good things. Fleur de Lys has always been one of my wife's and my favorite special occassion restaurants but it's been a couple of years since our last visit. The dramatic tented room has got to be one of the most unique in this area. At the recent SFchefs food & wine event, we attended a demo by Hubert Keller and Roland Passot, of La Folie. They are good friends and it was a really fun event and they were both hilarious. Keller is opening a new burger restaurant called Burger Bar in the Macy's on Union Square and I think he intends to add others in the future. That may be diverting his attention from his other restaurants. If you do go, please report back on your experience. If I had the reservation, I think I'd chance it and go there if you've liked it before.