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Saison 3.0 [San Francisco]

PorkyBelly Oct 29, 2012 09:50 AM


I found it interesting that they're ditching the chef's counter after the move.

  1. smatbrat Jun 3, 2013 04:39 PM


    changing up the salon a bit

    2 Replies
    1. re: smatbrat
      PorkyBelly Jun 3, 2013 07:39 PM

      So the tasting menu is back down to $248 now? I was just there two weeks ago when the menu was $298, ostensibly due to truffles being on the menu. I received no truffles and actually six fewer courses when I dined there last year.

      I enjoyed the food at my recent dinner, but at $298 with no truffles and fewer courses, I feel ripped off.

      1. re: smatbrat
        uhockey Jun 3, 2013 08:33 PM

        I personally loved my first meal at the Chef's Table in Saison 2.0 and am heading back to see V3.0 in just a few weeks.

        Skenes is one hell of a chef, but I think his personality really rubs a lot of people the wrong way. It will be interesting to see how the place has evolved and whether it still seems as great a deal this time around.


      2. p
        PorkyBelly Apr 30, 2013 07:20 PM

        Pete Wells weighs in http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/din...

        12 Replies
        1. re: PorkyBelly
          bbulkow May 1, 2013 12:15 AM

          Yeah. I hang my head in shame that the NY Times writes a fair and insightful review when our local critic flamed out so miserably. They actually highlighted the same issue of inflexibility, but Bauer sounded like a kid who didn't get his lollypop (valet parking), where Pete Wells offers a commentary on how lack of compromise takes you to unexpected places - as a theme of the restaurant, including the minimal menu. Well done, Mr Wells.

          1. re: bbulkow
            Robert Lauriston May 1, 2013 09:01 AM

            Sounds like the old chef's counter was the right choice over the dining room. No draft, food served by the cooks, wine served by Mark Bright. Everyone was really nice and seemed to be having as good a time as we were.

            Oh yeah, the lame music. I forgot about that. The musical equivalent of Tang and Pop-Tarts.

            1. re: bbulkow
              Ruth Lafler May 1, 2013 12:36 PM

              I fail to see how lack of compromise about valet parking takes you anywhere except the local garage. Which I guess could be considered an "unexpected place" -- but not in a good way. It's one thing to be uncompromising about the food, and another to be oblivious to your customers' service needs.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                Robert Lauriston May 1, 2013 12:47 PM

                Wells didn't say anything about valet parking.

                Saison serves only a tiny number of parties per night. Locals who get the wine pairing and sensible tourists will take cabs or other public transportation. There's a garage half a block away, so many people would use it rather than pay extra for valet service. So the number of cars per night a valet would park is probably way too small to justify the expense.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Ruth Lafler May 1, 2013 12:54 PM

                  No, bbulkow mentioned it in putting down Bauer's complaints. And heaven forbid someone not dine in a restaurant in the prescribed Robert Lauriston way!

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    Robert Lauriston May 1, 2013 12:59 PM

                    If you don't get the wine pairing at Saison, you'll be missing half the fun (personal opinion). If you get it, you will be way over the legal limit to drive (fact).

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                    nocharge May 1, 2013 05:22 PM

                    Most people I know who would spend Saison kind of money on a dinner would expect there to be valet parking in front of the restaurant and not having to figure out that there is a parking garage half a block away. And they would hardly blink at spending money on valet parking for a dinner that costs hundreds of dollars per person. Moreover, that parking garage may not have availability on nights when the Giants have home games and even if it does, it will cost you an arm and a leg to park there or anywhere else near AT&T park.

                    The lack of valet parking wouldn't bother me personally since I would take Uber anyway, but I think it's a legitimate issue.

              2. re: PorkyBelly
                sparkerly May 1, 2013 11:18 AM

                I just finished reading all the comments, everyone's so negative.

                1. re: sparkerly
                  Robert Lauriston May 1, 2013 11:24 AM

                  There was at least one good comment:

                  "I'm sorry, but no meal is worth ... having to sit through Phil Collins music."

                  Though I had such a good time otherwise (at the old place) that I had forgotten about the lame music by the next day.


                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    sparkerly May 1, 2013 11:35 AM

                    I really liked the personality of the old place, and embarrassingly I kind of enjoy the music they play. It's something different to listen to from what I usually hear anyway!

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      stravaigint May 1, 2013 12:12 PM

                      I liked his choice of music :P

                      But it's the first time I've ever _noticed_ the music at a place like this: I can't for the life of me remember what they played at, say, TFL, and maybe for some people it's just better if it's muzak that you can filter out...

                      1. re: stravaigint
                        Robert Lauriston May 1, 2013 12:25 PM

                        Most upscale tasting-menu places don't have music in the dining room, though they might in the kitchen. At Saison, those are the same room.

                        Funny, the comments about the music on Yelp are all positive.

                2. n
                  nocharge Apr 8, 2013 01:07 AM

                  I found Bauer's review in today's Chronicle interesting. Four stars for the food but three stars overall due to two stars for service and atmosphere. Given how well known it is that he hates not being seated right away and his obvious readiness to ding restaurants where he feels ever so slightly mistreated, it would be interesting to know why they didn't seat him right away. Given the perfectionist nature of the restaurant, you'd think that the staff would have recognized him and be familiar with reviews like
                  I wonder whether it was a case of not recognizing him and his preferences or a deliberate decision to treat him like any other customer. If the latter, the restaurant should be applauded for having more balls than I think a lot of restaurants would have.

                  I do think Bauer has a valid point about the attitude of the chef being more my-way-or-the-highway rather than the-customer-is-king, but that is hardly news. However, the two stars for service is ridiculously misleading. As long as you don't get your ego bruised by not getting seated right away or by the big-ego-chef non-substitution policies, the service is highly professional and more or less in line with the quality of the food.

                  Addendum: I felt the the service in their Mission District location was well-meaning but very amateurish. Yet Bauer still gave it three stars. They have tightened it up to the more robot-like perfection (as opposed to clueless) you would associate with a two Michelin star place, but Bauer still took away a star for service. Interesting!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: nocharge
                    stravaigint Apr 8, 2013 08:29 AM

                    I was there last week (I haven't written it up yet) and was also seated after about fifteen minutes at the bar, but it made total sense to me: as a solo diner, I'd have been the only person in the entire place at 6pm! When they did seat me, it was at the communal* table with a couple and another single, and it was much more comfortable that way.

                    They batched our dishes until about 3/4 of the way through, at which point the other solo diner was ahead, so they split the platings and did him first. I thought that was very accommodating of them.

                    I used the lot over at Safeway on 4th and walked over. It was a piece of cake compared with parking over in Mission.

                    Regarding the menu, they call a few days ahead to confirm the reservation, and along with the usual questions about dietary restrictions, they specifically ask if you want to know anything about the food.

                    * I don't think that table is actually always communal, but it worked to great effect that night.

                    1. re: nocharge
                      ak45 Apr 8, 2013 08:34 AM

                      My wife and I just ate there over the weekend. The food, service, and space was amazing...better than at the old location. We did a wine pairing, and in a couple cases they added a bit more wine to our glass to ensure we could fully enjoy it with upcoming course. Service was perfect - professional and precise, while at the same time being really friendly. Also, the cocktails were amazing. Bauer loves cocktails and clearly did the review before Saison had their full liquor license. A shame. Maybe if Bauer had a couple of the cocktails before his meal, he would have gotten his buzz on, relaxed, and enjoyed the experience.

                      1. re: ak45
                        PorkyBelly Apr 9, 2013 10:32 AM

                        How are the tables arranged? Are there certain tables with a better view of the kitchen than others?

                        1. re: PorkyBelly
                          stravaigint Apr 14, 2013 04:50 PM

                          I hate to give him the clicks, but this picture from Bauer's review shows the best tables in the house:


                          The table in the center is where I sat and offers a great view of everything, and especially of pastry chef Shawn Gawle's station. For an entirely unobstructed view, there are three tables on the left side of the photo that face the kitchen, the furthest of which is next to the fish tank.

                    2. p
                      PorkyBelly Mar 15, 2013 08:30 AM

                      price is now $298


                      3 Replies
                      1. re: PorkyBelly
                        Robert Lauriston Mar 15, 2013 08:45 AM

                        *Currently* $298, "due to the addition of a course featuring truffles. Once the truffles are gone, the price will drop back to its original level" ($248).

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          PorkyBelly Apr 23, 2013 11:55 AM

                          Still $298 and doesn't look like it's going down. Does that mean they're going to have truffles all year long, or was this truffle thing just a guise to increase the price?


                          1. re: PorkyBelly
                            Robert Lauriston Apr 23, 2013 12:05 PM

                            Sounds from that interview like he's sticking with $298. He said food cost is still 40% so maybe he's just found some more insanely expensive ingredients.

                      2. p
                        Plumsted Feb 5, 2013 04:18 PM

                        look forward to it!

                        1. p
                          Plumsted Feb 5, 2013 01:12 PM

                          Sorry prcentauri., I'm also flying across country for a week long visit to SF, and am just trying to get more info.......

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Plumsted
                            tatuaje68 Feb 5, 2013 01:46 PM

                            I have a reservation Tuesday Feb 12th. I'll report back how my evening went.

                          2. p
                            prcentauri Feb 5, 2013 10:18 AM

                            They'll be open by Feb 13 right? I have a resy and I'm flying from across the country. I'd like to know if I need to make alternate plans.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: prcentauri
                              Robert Lauriston Feb 5, 2013 01:36 PM

                              They opened last week.

                            2. p
                              Plumsted Feb 4, 2013 07:20 PM

                              Thank you my dear...........are they still relevant?

                              1. p
                                Plumsted Feb 4, 2013 06:18 PM

                                Thank you..............I'd like that experience!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Plumsted
                                  Robert Lauriston Feb 4, 2013 06:48 PM

                                  Here's a topic from a couple of years ago about places with chef's counters:


                                2. p
                                  Plumsted Feb 4, 2013 05:46 PM

                                  Could someone tell me what a "chef's counter" is?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Plumsted
                                    Robert Lauriston Feb 4, 2013 06:05 PM

                                    Usually it's counter seating in or looking into the kitchen. The old place had four seats at the back of the kitchen.

                                  2. p
                                    PorkyBelly Feb 4, 2013 02:07 PM

                                    anybody been to the new the place yet?

                                    1. Robert Lauriston Feb 4, 2013 01:56 PM

                                      I saw Mark Bright, the sommelier, so I asked him about the bar. He said it's just for drinks. So one could go there for a drink and to check out the space without having to commit to a $500 meal.

                                      23 Replies
                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        Robert Lauriston Feb 13, 2013 10:30 AM

                                        Update on the bar: starting tonight they're offering a $48 canape tasting menu.


                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                          Plumsted Feb 13, 2013 12:54 PM

                                          many thanks

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                            Melanie Wong Feb 13, 2013 03:51 PM

                                            A friend was there last night for the canape tasting menu, left hungry and went elsewhere for dinner. All the bites sounded lovely though.

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong
                                              Robert Lauriston Feb 13, 2013 04:11 PM

                                              I don't think it's meant to be dinner.

                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                              drewskiSF Feb 20, 2013 06:01 PM

                                              now starting $88

                                              1. re: drewskiSF
                                                nocharge Feb 20, 2013 06:28 PM

                                                I had the $88 version the other day. Essentially a bunch of highly delicious one bite items that won't fill you up. I was expecting that, so no disappointment, but I wonder about the sanity of this kind of meal as a restaurant concept. You pay $88 just for the food and you still have to make plans for what to eat afterwards so that you don't go to bed hungry. It's even more aggravating because each of those bites are so delicious that they make you crave for more and when the meal is over, you feel like you could have gone on eating for another hour.

                                                1. re: nocharge
                                                  baloney Feb 20, 2013 06:33 PM

                                                  Yeah, at that price it might just be better to bite the bullet and eat the whole $248 dinner which to me is a pretty damn good deal for the amount and quality, AFAICT from what I was served.

                                                  1. re: nocharge
                                                    budnball Feb 21, 2013 05:25 PM

                                                    How can you spend $88 plus drinks and tax and tip and leave hungry? This makes no logical sense to me. Lay out a C-note and then have to plan where to eat afterward?

                                                    1. re: budnball
                                                      nocharge Feb 21, 2013 05:50 PM

                                                      I wasn't exactly hungry at the time I left the restaurant, but it clearly wasn't enough food for the evening. I later ended up having an entree at another restaurant.

                                                      1. re: budnball
                                                        Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2013 06:04 PM

                                                        If I'm not on a budget, I can easily spend $88 or more on drinks and a light snack or two at any good wine bar. I don't think of that as a meal, I think of it as going out drinking. I figure Saison's just doing a more upscale version.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                          nocharge Feb 21, 2013 06:37 PM

                                                          Yeah, except in this case, the $88 didn't include any wine. We probably spent over $200 per person with the wine, tax, and tip. Also, the items served are not random snacks -- the flow of courses is similar to what you would expect from a tasting menu except that each course is one bite. So if you go elsewhere to eat afterwards, you might end up having an entree after just having had dessert.

                                                          1. re: nocharge
                                                            Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2013 06:49 PM

                                                            Huh. So for $88 you basically get a canapé version of a tasting menu? How many?

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                              nocharge Feb 21, 2013 07:02 PM

                                                              I lost count, but it was probably around 10, most of which could be eaten with a single bite.

                                                              1. re: nocharge
                                                                budnball Feb 21, 2013 07:50 PM

                                                                I am not trying to be a hater but what kind of business model is that? I can drop a $100 on a night's drinking also but usually it's closer to even on food and booze if not weighted more to the liquid side. At $48 I was tempted, but at $88 i am baffled. Sounds like the economy is booming somewhere.

                                                                1. re: budnball
                                                                  Robert Lauriston Feb 21, 2013 08:10 PM

                                                                  Dinner at Saison is $248 (before drinks, tax, and tip) for around 20 courses, some of which are just a bite and most of which are no more than a few bites, so $88 for ten bites seems like similar pricing.


                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                    budnball Feb 21, 2013 08:16 PM

                                                                    I guess that it will be one of those places I will read about and never enter. One of many.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                      hungree Feb 21, 2013 09:17 PM

                                                                      Is it worth it? This is like what you pay at EMP. Maybe its priced this way just because there are people who will pay? But this kind of price might lead to the conclusion that this is the best restaurant in the city. Is it?

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                        nocharge Feb 21, 2013 10:39 PM

                                                                        If you assume that the quality of the ingredients for the canapé menu is similar to that of the dining-room menu, but at a fraction of the cost, it would be reasonable to assume that the amount of canapé food you would get would be a fraction of the dining-room amount. I have no problem with the amount of food assuming that customers know what they are getting into. I'm just intrigued by the idea of the canapé menu in general and whether the concept is a viable one.

                                                                        1. re: nocharge
                                                                          ipsedixit Feb 22, 2013 07:36 AM

                                                                          88/person is a pittance.

                                                                          I would happily pay that amount for a 10 course "canapé" taste menu at Saison.

                                                                          It's more than just about the food (or the quantity); it's also about the experience.

                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                            baloney Feb 22, 2013 11:10 AM

                                                                            Completely agree with ipsedixit. With these types of meals, it is not only about the food; the whole experience at Saison is great, I enjoyed my meal here MUCH more than my meals at EMP, Le Bernardin, French Laundry, and even Benu. I honestly think the $248 is really very fair for what you get and I'd imagine the $88 menu would be equally fair.

                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                              nocharge Feb 22, 2013 01:36 PM

                                                                              Our experience was very good, but partly because we had the right expectations. The risk with this kind of menu is that some customers will expect a full meal for $88 -- there are always restaurant goers with unreasonable expectations -- and will leave disappointed. Next time I go, I'll probably have the full $248 menu that makes a lot more sense to me and which I haven't tried in the new location. I like the idea of small bites in the lounge but would much prefer ordering them a la carte than dealing with a fixed menu that's kind of an awkward fit for a meal.

                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                          grayelf Feb 20, 2013 10:28 PM

                                                          I just read on Eater SF http://sf.eater.com/archives/2013/02/... that the $48 option is gone already?!

                                                          1. re: grayelf
                                                            Melanie Wong Jul 9, 2013 12:06 PM

                                                            Today Tasting Table featured the bar's ala carte menu. Eight dishes available.

                                                      2. Robert Lauriston Dec 16, 2012 11:53 AM

                                                        There's a photo of the new kitchen on Twitter:


                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                          Robert Lauriston Dec 16, 2012 02:37 PM

                                                          Interview from last month, definitely 18 seats.


                                                        2. Robert Lauriston Oct 29, 2012 10:31 AM

                                                          Confusing and conflicting information about seating capacity. Inside Scoop piece says the current place has 18 seats, looked like more to me. The Eater post says 18 seats in the dining room and 12 at the bar at the new place with no increase in seating capacity. So are there 26 seats in the dining room now, or are they replacing the 4-seat chef's counter with a 12-seat bar?

                                                          1. ipsedixit Oct 29, 2012 09:55 AM

                                                            It would be quixotic to have a "chef's counter" when by their own account the entire dining room will be in the kitchen.

                                                            Can't wait to try it.

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