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2016/08/09 7th anniversary dinner at Saison in San Francisco
π 2016-08-09 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
Jennifer found this 3 star rated michelin restaurant in San Francisco, and got us a reservation for our anniversary dinner.

We got a nice table with view on the open kitchen, which was nice:

They also had a very impressive wine list, with some wines that were over 80 years old, at prices that were related to the age :)

$14288 bottle of Château La Mission Haut Brion 1929
$14288 bottle of Château La Mission Haut Brion 1929

The tasting menu was not showy but was quite tasty:

the wild strawberries 'fraises des bois' were very good
the wild strawberries 'fraises des bois' were very good

The the food quantity was enough, but not as much as some of their competitors, the quality was very good, the only issue was the bill, which we mostly knew was going to be steeper than any restaurant we've ever eaten at around the world, but the mandated 20% tip, being no tip anymore but just an extra 20% charge on top of the bill, left a bad taste in our mouth. For comparison:

  • French Laundry: $295 (tip/service included), $325 with tax
  • Joël Robuchon full tasting menu: $320 (tax and tip included/service)
  • Saison: $398 (before tax and required 20% service not included), $517 with tax and tip/service
  • This is another way to say that Saison was 60% more expensive than 2 other excellent competitors which both had around 50% more courses in the meal.

    We got to see the bay bridge lighting on the way home:

    If you care about a longer review, here's what I posted: Sadly, I have to give this 2 stars described as "I've experienced better" when you factor in that this costs twice as much ($510 per person with tip before wines) than the nearest competition that is also extremely good .

    I'll start by saying that I've eaten in about 20 restaurants like this one around the world, including Joel Robuchon (full tasting menu), The French Laundry, and Alinea in Chicago
    Saison had very good well presented food in a casual atmosphere, but all 3 restaurants I just listed had food that was just that good, or better, and more courses. Saison was still quite good, if you have quality, you don't need quantity on top, except when the bill for the tasting menu alone is $398 per person.
    The very good wine pairing was $298 for just one person (!) and not that many dishes and pourings. The wines were well chosen and the pours were not stingy, but on top of being the most expensive tasting menu, it was also the most expensive wine pairing we've had.

    While we knew the price when we went, I think what tipped it over was:
    when we got the bill (for 2 people) a 20% tip was included on top of the entire bill (including the wine pairing), which added another $109 to the bill, just for tip. But if it's a required 20% tip, it's not a tip anymore, it should be part of the original bill, and actually some competitors already include service in the bill because it's the French way.
    So let's compare: French laundry is $270 with service included, Saison is $510 per person before wines, and don't despair, your bill has a handy line where you can add an additional tip (which I found insulting at this point).

    This is regrettable because the food was good, the service was good, but the meal was not a huge meal with so many courses you can't even count them anymore, and you turning away the dessert cart after you've already had 2 prior desserts. Charging about twice as much as the competition with a mandatory 20% tip that includes the price of alcohol just cancelled out what would otherwise have been a good experience.
    For what it's worth, we enjoyed our table that was facing the open kitchen, and again all the staff did a very good job.

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