Saison - worth it? Have read mixed reviews, plus restaurant does not provide some basic information. [San Francisco]
I'm considering going there over the holidays. Previous reviews have mentioned its high cost and sometimes rude service. Would really like to hear people's thoughts:
- What is a ballpark cost for just food per person? Previous posts claim it could even be more expensive on the weekends, but the website doesn't give any sort of idea about this - $100? $200? Higher?
- How is the service? We prefer an unpretentious but precise style.
- The menu claims no substitutions. Is this true for all food allergies - shellfish or nuts for example? If they do not substitute, can they simply omit minor ingredients?
- We have been to TFL, Alinea, Fat Duck, etc. Saison seems to be around the same price point, how does it compare in terms of overall experience?
This post outlines prices: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/840311
The article mentions Saison's tasting menu is $198, but $248 on weekends. I paid $248pp on Friday thinking that night's menu had more expensive ingredients on it, as their site suggests in their FAQ.
"The price of the menu is dependent on the price of ingredients."
I went before the price was raised and found it exceptional. Can't tell you about substitutions as I had none...
I think it is very comparable to your other experiences.
They're in the process of moving. Looking at Opentable, I think they're hoping to open by the 27th. They're planning some changes:
Here's my report on a meal I had in August:
That night, the dining room menu said $248 plus $128 for the wine pairing vs. $269 and $120 for the chef's counter per the itemized receipt for the $498 all-inclusive (service charge & tax) flat price.
I let them know my g/f is a pescetarian when I made the reservation and they said it wouldn't be a problem.
They sub'd elements on a few dishes and had a couple of entirely different courses (cured tuna dish instead of pigeon, sardines with roasted bones instead of foie gras toffee).
The wine pairing had generous pours and we thought the service was excellent and unpretentious.
My experience 1.5 years ago (summer before this last) was entirely worth it. At the time, I felt it was a solid michelin-two-star experience. It didn't quite have the complexity of some of the three-star places, but had inventiveness and a casual elegance that made up for it. Not "weird" like COI, not so full of itself like TFL, a little less scattered / brilliant than Manresa, a really solid evening.
That was at a lower price point - but one dish, the dried bracillias (?), has stuck with me since that meal - a very, very memorable dish that has framed my thinking about that ingredient family ever since.
Do expect a two-star experience, not a three-star experience, at least as of last year. The dishes just don't have the whimsey or complexity to compete with the top-10-worldwide. Think of them more like a top-100
I'm not sure whether to recommend before the move or after. I love their current location, it's very san francisco and not that kind of vegas glitz that many upscale places go for (quince).
Where else would you consider? Benu?
Just in case anyone is interested, they will not be opening at the Townsend street location until at least the weekend of February 2nd due to construction delays. I tried to make a reservation as I will be in town Jan 23-27 and they called me to cancel it.
BTW the new phone # seems to be 415-828-7990 (that's where they reached me from anyway).