Sophisticated but surprising SF destination led by the mercurial Joshua Skenes
How to define it: Indefinable? Saison is, on the face of it, full of contradictions: a former weekly pop-up, it is now one of the most exclusive (and expensive) restaurants in the world. It boasts one of the finest cellars in the US, with wines poured to the accompaniment of a pumping 80s and 90s rock-classic soundtrack. It uses ultra-luxury ingredients, often eaten with the hands, and the kitchen employs super-sophisticated contemporary techniques alongside the ancient practice of cooking meat over fire.
Who’s behind it: The brilliant and mercurial chef talent of Joshua Skenes is complemented by co-owner and wine director Mark Bright’s smooth delivery. They are currently expanding their portfolio with the opening of seafood-grill restaurant Angler on the SF harbour side, with one to follow in Los Angeles late in 2018.
On the menu: The nightly changing tasting menu of up to 18 courses not only showcases the highest-quality produce but is guided by what is best on that very day. Dishes may feature Skenes’s Liquid Toast, a glazed sea urchin served on crusty bread soaked in a rich sauce of grilled bread and dusted with a powder of river vegetables; or barbecued celeriac slow-cooked in the fireplace for three days. Chefs step out from the barrier-free kitchen into the dining room to explain each dish.
Bonus point: Skenes is shortly to open his own hideaway ranch up in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state.
Portrait: Bonjwing Lee