Saison is one of the few rarified restaurants in San Francisco that has been anointed with three Michelin stars. And we say “few” because Saison was, in fact, one of the first restaurants in the city ever to be awarded with that elusive third star. It’s also on the World’s Best Restaurant Lists. It’s earned another claim to fame in the years since opening as well–it offers (perhaps unsurprisingly) one of the costliest menus in California. But with regards to the latter, most diners feel the cuisine more than allows for the hefty price tag. The chance to taste some of the best food in America, nay – the world – tends to have that devil-may-care effect on people.
The food is extraordinary. Exclusively served in a tasting menu that shifts and transforms with the seasons (hence the name), the dishes at Saison, expertly prepared and envisioned by chef Joshua Skenes, are visually and gastronomically artistic. There might be a sliver of cured blue-wing sea robin here, a splash of crystal clear duck bone broth there. Fire and smoke also play key roles in the creation of each dish. The wood-burning stove occupies pride of place in the kitchen, and therefore the restaurant, as Saison is open plan. It’s all exposed brick, Scandi-influences, and warm wooden tables.
Aside from the odd imported Japanese fish, there’s a strong leaning towards local Californian ingredients, which only enhances the seasonality of the offerings here. Menus can change day-to-day, depending on what’s best. The results? Original. Breathtaking. Unforgettable. All are fair assessments. And the best bit? For all the luxuriousness of the dining experience, there’s no dress code in sight, and the chef’s got a soft spot for ’80s pop.