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

pierrex Dec 15, 2012 10:39 PM

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?

  1. Robert Lauriston Jan 20, 2013 09:58 AM

    Opentable has reservations starting February 1.

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

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      PorkyBelly Jan 20, 2013 02:52 PM

      Some interior shots

      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        Robert Lauriston Jan 29, 2013 11:06 AM

        Inside Scoop says they are opening February 1.


      2. bbulkow Dec 16, 2012 12:55 PM

        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
          Robert Lauriston Dec 16, 2012 01:00 PM

          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
            bbulkow Dec 16, 2012 02:05 PM

            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
              pierrex Dec 18, 2012 10:11 AM

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

              1. re: pierrex
                gourmandish Dec 21, 2012 06:06 PM

                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
                  gourmandish Jan 2, 2013 02:12 PM

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

                  1. re: gourmandish
                    Ruth Lafler Jan 2, 2013 03:43 PM

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

                    1. re: gourmandish
                      PorkyBelly Jan 20, 2013 08:26 AM

                      Are they even open yet?

                      1. re: PorkyBelly
                        gourmandish Jan 21, 2013 12:22 PM

                        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. drewskiSF Dec 16, 2012 12:13 PM

              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. Robert Lauriston Dec 16, 2012 11:17 AM

                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.

                1. CarrieWas218 Dec 16, 2012 07:38 AM

                  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.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: CarrieWas218
                    Ruth Lafler Dec 16, 2012 11:02 AM

                    What's the status of the move?

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