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Saison - New rules, so most online reviews are outdated

THE RULES HERE HAVE CHANGED !!!! YOU DO NOT PAY IN ADVANCE AND YOUR GUESTS WILL SEE THE COSTS !!! $175 PER PERSON (not $100).

First of all, it was a unique and to us, a very European look and feel experience. The wine pairings were spot on. All in all it was a great experience and they are very generous with the wine and especially re-fills, but the new prices well cover that generosity.

We took some out of town friends here last night. It was a nice experience. Nicely prepared food and worth trying but I found the online reviews very misleading, hence my headline in all caps. I had read as much as I could online beforehand, and was under the impression that the $100 per person we were charged up-front on OpenTable was advanced payment in full, now it is just a deposit !! The actual cost with a 20% tip was $175 per person. (We were a fairly large party).

Again, the online reviews about the wonderful feeling of leaving without getting a check no longer apply. Sadly, I told our guests all about that in advance so I looked/felt silly when a check arrived at the end. The folks we treated always try to pick up the tab, so we were excited that we could pay in advance and tell them it was covered without them ever seeing prices. We were disappointed to find the prices are now on the handwritten menu and the check was placed in plain view of the entire party. Not a bad thing, just not what I wanted or expected after all I had read. I think they lost something unique and fun by going mainstream on this.

As for the food, it is obviously prepared with great skill and care, but the portions are quite small. Also, the fish last night was too bony. Two of our guests are Paris-trained chefs and said the bones should have been removed pre-cooking and wrapped in cheese cloth to achieve the same flavor and moisture result, and thus to make the process of eating it less laborious and un-rewarding. The lamb was served a bit too rare for all of our liking. The menu said roasted not tartare. Lastly, our main pet peeve of these fine dining experiences is the absence of salt and pepper on the table, and we had to request both here as well.

All in all it was a great experience, so 3 stars, and they are very generous with the wine and especially re-fills, but the new prices well cover that generosity.

I hope this review can save someone the same embarrassment and disappointment we felt.

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Saison
2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

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  1. You've saved me a lot of embarrassment. Spending $175 per person for a meal that's not perfect isn't an option.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Windy

      Well, our meal there was perfect, interesting and very creative....

      I find it amazing that 2 Paris-trained chefs could be included in the statement, "The lamb was served a bit too rare for all of our liking."

      My notes from a dinner on January 10, 2010 show $350 for 2 (includes tax, tip). So I doubt prices have gone up. I recall paying with a credit card at the end of the meal.

      And we didn't need to add salt or pepper.

      Sorry, but I disagree strongly with this review.

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      Saison
      2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

      1. re: Thomas Nash

        To each his own and that was their opinion on the lamb (keep in mind they said it in the context of it being described as roasted), but as I said the food was very good. I was just surprised at how different the process was from all the reviews I had been reading.

    2. Hmm. I think for all the facebooking, their communication needs some work. I emailed Saison a month ago for a friend and Saison emailed me their pricing as of then (February). This might be useful for people, since there is no hint of it on the website or opentable. In any case, people should call Saison directly so confusion does not occur.

      Friday Night (7:00pm) 9 courses
      $90 food menu
      $60 optional wine pairing
      Saturday (5:30pm) 7 courses
      $80 food menu
      $50 optional wine pairing
      Saturday (8:30pm) 9 courses
      $90 food menu
      $60 optional wine pairing
      Sunday (5:30pm) 7 courses
      $80 food menu
      $50 optional wine pairing
      Sunday (8:30pm) 9 courses
      $90 food menu
      $60 optional wine pairing

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      Saison
      2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

      1 Reply
      1. re: sfbing

        That sounds right. We were the early Sat night dinner (which is 6PM now by the way). It came to $175 per person with wine including tax and 20% tip, as I said. Your point is well made. I don't really have a problem with the price for all the effort that went into it and the constantly flowing excellent wine. It's just that somehow I thought I had paid in advance at a rate of $100 based on OpenTable. Probably operator error on my part.

      2. The Chron reports that starting Tuesday there will be a four-seat "chef's counter" and a four-top "chef's table" with prix-fixe prices of $200 and $500 respectively.

        http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/paolo...

        5 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          WOW
          This is the major leagues of prices. Does the food measure up? I mean really, this is French Laundry territory!

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          The French Laundry
          6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

          1. re: budnball

            The French Laundry charges $240, including the service charge.

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            The French Laundry
            6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I guess my question is based on the idea that once you are over $150 per person that you are in the "Fine Dining" section of the program. I have not seen reviews that say whether this is a fair assessment or just a good but overpriced restaurant with delusions of grandeur.

            2. re: budnball

              I'm not a fan of how that article was worded; a better comparison is a special extended tasting menu at the French Laundry, which runs close to $1000

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              The French Laundry
              6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

              1. re: budnball

                Things may have changed, but I thought the old price was not a good value.

            3. Saison reminded me of Coi, with its tiny portions, precious pairings, and whopping prices. At least Saison has a nice, relaxed atmosphere that Coi -- in its dourness -- lacks. Don't go to Saison if you're looking for a meal, however, because what you will get are small bites. Unfortunately, when you plate up small bites for big prices, you can't afford a misstep -- and we had some serious ones. Let me go straight to the lamb with this comment, because the lamb was the subject of a previous review here. The lamb was served red and cold, with an unappetizing collar of unrendered fat ringing the small chewy pieces of meat. (Interestingly, Coi doesn't know how to cook a piece of meat either -- Coi's beef was blue when I had ordered it medium rare.) There was absolutely nothing good to say about that lamb. Similarly, the dish of brassica featured exceedingly tough strands of greens, albeit soaked in a delicious broth. The farm egg never registered, paired as it was with an overpowering roe. The fluke was absolutely delicious - delicate flakes of raw fish in a mild vinaigrette and strewn with tiny, crisp broccoli shards. Consider also that there is no wine list -- you drink what they are pouring or you don't drink. Our waitperson, however, was generous with the pours and there is a very good vibe there (again -- unlike Coi -- ugh). I just wish there was value for the money.

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              Saison
              2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

              1 Reply
              1. re: Simca

                Simca - I feel as you do about Coi. Since we are of a like mind, I'd like to know which places in SF are your favorites!