This is a repeat visit to Saison, but in a different season than our usual. As always the service is flawless and Mark Bright’s wine selections bring out something different and wonderful in your price range. Michelin three star Chef Joshua Skenes was in the kitchen and when not supervising or inspecting he was cooking. It is thoughtful food and everyone is served a tasting menu, with the only changes being from preferences or allergies. Bring your major credit card, though, as it is now known as the most expensive dinner in the Bay area.
This evening’s menu started with an infusion of herbs from the Saison garden. It had a pleasant taste.
Moving into the next course you are served a bowl of custard that is then topped with caviar from Idaho. It is lovely combination of tastes and accompanied by a warm biscuit that had been basted with pork fat. Wow! is all you need to say about this little bit of heaven.
Amberjack which has been marinated in soy sauce and other ingredients is next. It is served with an array of gooseberries – fresh still in the husk, dried and the fried flowers of the plant. The fresh ones have a sweetness with a bit of grapefruit essence. The fish was a success and the berries a really fun accompaniment.
The sea urchin seems to have become a standard and with good reason. It is served on a piece of grilled bread that is sticky, gooey and crispy on top. This is decadently fun and delicious.
A new dish was the Koshihikari rice from the Sacramento delta served with a broth of grilled rice. With this dish you are given a number of accompaniments which you can combine for various tastes and textures. The options include smoked trout, smoked trout skin, roast cauliflower, shiso and chrysanthemum greens, pickled vegetables and herbs and flowers. Overall it is a nice set of flavors and textures but mild.
The radish is served in different ways in one bowl – fermented, poached and raw. After presentation it is covered with clarified butter. It is another mild dish until you dip the pieces in the butter. It makes them come alive.
The black cod has been grilled and is served with a yogurt and citrus leaves sauce. The cod picked up some nice smoke tastes and is wonderfully moist. The sauce reminds me of some I’ve had in Thai restaurants. It is a delicious course.
The hairy pig is a Mangalitsa, the Kobe beef of pork. It is covered with a sauce of grilled fat and accompanied by a dish of herbs and flowers. The meat has been seasoned and is spicy and juicy. They also serve it with a bowl of hot sauce that added a bit of barbecue essence to me, but it wasn’t really needed even though it was quite tasty. The meat is absolutely delicious and the herbs added a diverse set of flavors.
The grilled bones of the pork are turned into a broth. This simple offering has an amazing flavor.
Ice cream is served with their smoked caramel sauce and topped with crunchy toasted cocoa nibs. The crunchies add a slight salt component that serve to intensify the delightful taste of the dish.
Fruits and tea end the meal. One fruit has been seen before, the dreamsicle is an orange filled with ice cream and some chunks of orange toward the bottom. It is nice. The alpine strawberries are the other fruit and they are coated with a sweet syrup and served with a bowl of sweetened whipped cream. They are scrumptious in their own right but equally delicious when dipped in the cream. The buckwheat tea ends the meal. It’s a full circle to start and end with tea.