Sunday, June 16, 2013

Saison for Flag Day

yesterday we celebrated my favorite day of every year, Pretentious Eats Flag Day! annually we go to a different two or three Michelin starred restaurant for their tasting menu and it. is. awesome! so far we've been to French Laundry, Manresa, Cyrus, and Restaurant at Meadowood. this year we dined at Saison for our fifth annual celebratory dinner, which also means i get to cross them off the list of Six Chefs You Should Know (leaving me with two more, Coi and Atelier Crenn). they offer a 17 course tasting menu for $248 and it is worth every penny. 

Saison is actually far from pretentious. they don't have a dress code so you can walk in in jeans and a t-shirt if you please. the music that they play isn't the elevator type music you might expect either. i'm pretty sure i heard 867-5309 playing at some point during dinner. slung on each person's chair is a lap blanket in case they get cold. the whole place is cement and brick so i imagine it can get preeetttty cold on those super chill nights. but i like to call the food pretentious because the moment a tweezer is involved in meticulously placing items onto a plate, there's an air of snobbery that comes with a meal that costs well above $200. aside from the food though, there is nothing about the place that i would consider pretentious. 

before we get into the food, i want to say that the service was spectacular! let me preface the goings on through the night with the knowledge that my car was parked right outside of their restaurant and upon realizing that it was only a one hour meter, i decided to move it (as dinner is 3 hours long). when i tried to move my car it wouldn't start and there wasn't any reason it shouldn't have started. i wasn't going to miss this dinner i'd been waiting a year for, so i headed inside and would deal with it after dinner while also risking getting a ticket. but Flag Day was much more important than my car at that point. the moment i walked through the door i was lead to the bar to wait for my friends and was poured a complimentary glass of champagne. the bartender and matre'd asked how my night was and i told them about my car. the matre'd offered to take my keys and have a look. he couldn't figure it out, but that gesture in itself was more than anything i'd expected. after dinner i sat in my car waiting for AAA to come and at some point one of the staff members saw us and asked if he could offer us some coffee while we waited. then another staff member saw i was waiting and said that if he'd known i was still out here he would have offered me some company. these things are far above any service that i expected. it seems like at Saison the people there are concerned that you to have a good experience throughout your stay with them, but in the most friendly and genuine way. not once did i feel like the people there were playing the role of someone serving. it felt like everybody truly liked their job and enjoyed giving us a great experience. 

now, onto the food! after consuming 17 courses, you'd think that i'd want nothing more than to explode after stretching my tummy out for three hours, but the courses were surprisingly light and well spaced out. many of the dishes were sort of refreshing in a sense and very balanced. nothing was overly rich or overpowering. after the meal i felt full but not in a i-should-probably-just-keel-over-and-die type full. everybody that has the means to go and appreciates truly divine food should make their way to Saison at least once!

soda, rhubarb, grapefruit, elderflowers
tart, light, and refreshing. simply wonderful. 

custard, grilled cepes, black truffle consomme
lots of mushroom flavor and full of umami

reserve caviar, ember roasted yam, grilled chicken gelee, crab
who knew that salty caviar would pair well with yam? i didn't! but Chef Josh Skene sure did. this was an incredibly inventive dish and my favorite of the night. 

cherry blossom, sea bream, bull kelp
i really enjoyed this. it had just enough texture with the fried bull kelp laying atop. 

shiso, kiwi   /  beet, rhubarb (i think..i can't remember)
we asked if there were any non-alcoholic beverages and they said that the bartender would basically concoct three different mocktails for us. these, plus another one with rhubarb, ginger and coconut were brought to the table. all were refreshing and unique in flavor. fun stuff!

live scallop, meiwa kumquat, sea urchin, avocado
good god was this good! live scallop has a totally different texture than seared scallop (clearly) and the uni added a nice richness, though again, this dish was very light. 

battle creek trout roe, ramp vichysoisse
the caviar was quite mild. this dish was super textural. i dig. 

battle creek trout
smoked, which pleasantly altered the texture a bit. 

abalone, roasted over the embers, wild seaweeds, lardo
i don't even like abalone but this was fantastic! there was a bit of a smokiness to it.

stew, rice and abalone liver, coastal greens, artichoke

bitter vegetables, nastrutium honey
the stringy fried thing you see is mermaid seaweed. i loved it! this dish was served with creme fraiche and some salt. you eat it with your hands and dip it however you please. each piece had a very distinct, fresh flavor to it. 

this was cute. sorta just wanted to hang on to it because it was so darn cute.

parker rolls
these rolls had the perfect consistency. slightly chewy and just perfect in every way. 

sable fish, swarnadwipa spices, yogurt, tangelo
this tasted very thai. the fish was cooked perfectly and the (what i imagine was..) plantains gave it some good texture. 

brassicas, aged seaweed bouillon
this was probably my least favorite dish, but still a very interesting dish. 

toffee, bread, milk, beer
duck liver hidden underneath! foie gras with toffee and beer? who in their right mind could come up with such a thing and make it work? this was sort of amazing for me. i thought that conceptually this was awesome. plus, i've been missing foie so it was nice to have a bit again. 

wood pigeon, cherry tree
i really enjoyed the cherry leaf with liver inside. it was super savory and just what was needed at that moment during the dinner. 

tart, harbison, strawberry, juniper
this was the cheese course. a different approach to the cheese course, which i appreciated. cheese, strawberries and crust.. i'm for it!

raspberry, meyer lemon, prickly ash, basil buds
those tiny little pieces of basil were surprisingly super potent. this was citrusy, creamy, slightly bitter, all in good ways. they described it as a raspberry marshmallow but nothing about this really screamed "marshmallow."

sesame, white sesame souffle, black sesame gelato
the executive chef came out to place the ice cream onto our souffles. that was nice of him! this was excellent. i'm not a fan of souffles in general but this was exceptional. it wasn't very sweet and was actually slightly savory because of all the sesame. just heavenly. 

grilled buckwheat tea
a good way to end the dinner but cleansing with some tea. a note from the Asians, i assume. haha. 

sponge cake with dulce de leche center and matcha powder
bourbon and browned butter macarons
earl grey truffle
can i just talk about the truffles for a moment? the guy who brought them over said to eat it in one bite because it pops and gets really messy otherwise. at first i wasn't going to listen to him and just bite half way through then decided that he probably knows what he's talking about so i took his advice. the moment you crack the chocolate, you encounter a liquid center that bursts into your mouth with earl grey tea. this was phenomenal! the chocolate layer is much thinner than you'd image which was actually really pleasant. 

custardy inside, caramelly crust. just what it should be!

after having said that the earl grey truffle was spectacular and i wished it were my last bite, someone came out with a second round of truffles for us. see what i mean about above and beyond service? 

we were sent home with a brioche for the morning after as well as printed menus. awesome! 

i cannot say enough great things about Saison. every moment of my time spent there was time/money very well spent. my experience encompassed all things i expected and then some. this was the perfect selection for our 5th Annual Flag Day!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a dinner!! But what happened to your car? It's brand spanking new and should not be giving you trouble...