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Saison - worth it? Have read mixed reviews, plus restaurant does not provide some basic information. [San Francisco]

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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?

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  1. This post outlines prices: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/840311

    http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

    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.

    1 Reply
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      What's the status of the move?

    2. 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:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875499

      Here's my report on a meal I had in August:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8178...

      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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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?

          8 Replies
          1. re: bbulkow

            There is no current location. They closed the Folsom St. spot and are still working on the new Townsend location. They're taking reservations from Dec. 27 on but in SF there are usually delays with new restaurants.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Ah, well. I saw the kitchen pictures, I wonder about the entrance and dining area. The old area had a nice urban edge.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Yeah, I can't figure out how to contact them to ask them these questions. The old phone number is disconnected.

                1. re: pierrex

                  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).

                  1. re: gourmandish

                    This has now changed - they are opening week of Jan 15th. I was able to rebook my table.

                    1. re: gourmandish

                      Lucky timing for you! Please report back on your experience.

                      1. re: gourmandish

                        Are they even open yet?

                        1. re: PorkyBelly

                          Cancelled on me again. Sigh. They were very apologetic about it. I'm now going to Keiko A Nob Hill instead, so we'll see how that goes. Have to try Saison later in the year when I come back.

              2. Opentable has reservations starting February 1.

                Web site says $248 for dinner, $148 for the wine pairing.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Some interior shots
                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulterior...

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Inside Scoop says they are opening February 1.

                    http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...