Saison is in a class of its own. Though San Francisco is ripe with michelin-stars and excellent chefs, what Chef Skenes and his team are doing is something else. The menu can sort of be best described as kaiseki. But not really. There are Japanese influences in Skenes’s cooking, but he also pays homage to California’s bounty of fresh produce.
The menu at Saison opens and closes with tea. In between are courses like no other. Rich sea urchin toast, brilliantly fresh lobster lightly cooked over the embers, and smoky milk ice cream with caramel cooked in the fire.
The heart of Saison is its massive open wood-burning oven. Almost every dish sent out of the kitchen has been touched in some way or another by fire and smoke. Often times farm-to-table restaurants, regardless of caliber, send out dishes that leave dinners scratching their heads. Did I just pay fifteen dollars for a few cherry tomatoes?
At Saison the food deceptively simple. At first glance dishes like the “liquid” toast seem easy to make. Only when you take your first bite do you realize why Skenes has received such praise. Sweet and creamy uni gives way to crunchy Tartine toast. The bottom half of the toast is dipped in a mixture of soy, raw milk, egg yolk, and bread. There is smoke, sweet, sour, brine, crunch, and custard all in one bite. It is a sensational combination of taste and texture.
Exquisite ingredients, perfectly balanced textures, and vibrant flavors. That is what you get at Saison and that is all you need.