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Nov 14, 2011 09:03 PM

New Saison Chef's Counter [San Francisco]

Saison is high on my list to go next time I'm in SF (along with Benu). The new plans may be a little too harsh on my wallet.

$498 total (including wine, tax, and tip) for the chef's counter (4 people max per day) and $198 regular tasting menu for the main dining room. Benu is $180 for the tasting menu. I'm sure the chef's counter is a truly unique experience, but $500 total per person seems a little high for their current reputation. FYI, I spent less on the extended tasting menu at TFL, although we only had a couple of glasses of wine. But that's for impeccable service, 20+ courses, and a little bragging rights of going to TFL (yes, unfortunately that counts). I guess they're going for a 3 Michelin star for next year. Best of luck to chef Joshua Skenes and company.

I'm from NY so for comparison as well (not looking to stir up any NY vs SF trouble here), the 18-person chef's counter at the newly 3-starred Brooklyn Fare is like $185 a person (without wine), Eleven Madison (Manhattan board's favorite restaurant) is $195 for the tasting menu, and a "weird" comp, the tasting menu at Brooklyn pizza joint, Roberta's (4 people max, only on Wed and Thurs) was $160 when I went in the spring.

I feel like $300, $350 max (in total), I'd consider going.

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  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. Not clear what's actually going to be happening with the non-chef's counter menu at Saison. Grubstake indicates they'll continue to offer the current tasting menu at $198: The Chronicle says they'll be offering longer and more "luxurious" tasting menus:

      I'd assume a longer menu and higher price, since otherwise the change in seating doesn't make much sense.

      I can't offhand think of any other SF restaurants following this model: very small, very expensive, focusing on a luxury, elite experience. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

      2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

      1 Reply
      1. re: johnq

        IMHO, this is a very risky business model. I mean a place like Masa can pull it off because 1) it's in NYC and 2) you know you're getting these ridiculously expensive products/ingredients flown in from around the world. I mean the guy combines toro with caviar. I doubt very few restaurants/chefs in the US could pull off this over the long-term (key phrase) - really only the big names like Keller, Achatz, Masa, Urasawa, Ripert, Boulud, and probably David Chang and José Andrés (probably missing a few names and limiting to US-based chefs). Trotter couldn't do it in Vegas with Restaurant Charlie. If any of those previously mentioned guys opened up a 4-spot chef's counter (where they actually cooked - yes, very hypothetical), it would sell out one or two months in advance of the first day taking reservations/tickets. I still see open dates for Saison right now on that seatme website.

        Again, not looking to start any NYC/SF/any other city debate. I wish Chef Skenes all the best. I hope I'm lucky to try out his cooking one day.

      2. Is it true they are also renaming the restaurant "Hameau de la Reine"?

        3 Replies
          1. re: wolfe

            >deli joke, ham on rye.
            Isnt that a Croque Marie Antoinette ... or was that on Brioche?

            1. re: psb

              Then there was that old Saturday Night Live takeoff on Citizen Kane.

              ".... Henri...."
              "........ with mustard."

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          1. The original comment has been removed