The menu at Saison. [Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux]
After weeks of teasing his trips to Saison in his Friday dish roundup, Michael Bauer has finally dropped his review, and it's a mixed bag. Chef Joshua Skenes takes home the plaudits for his "nothing short of brilliant food," "flawless technique and creative mind," and "breathtaking" presentations, with notable dishes ranging from a pine-nut souffle to a seared bluewing sea robin. "Each dish is unlike what's found at other restaurants," Bauer notes, and Skenes lands the ultimate prize: a four-star rating for food. Sommelier Mark Bright also earns top marks, with Bauer dubbing him a "shining presence": "The wine service is exceptional, as are the glassware and storage."
Unfortunately, the atmosphere surrounding that food and wine was less than enchanting to Bauer, who bemoans the "hard-edged" interior, the unaccommodating staff, and the questionable lack of valet parking (particularly considering Saison shares its neighborhood with bustling AT&T Park). There's no online menu, while the paper menu features almost no descriptions of the dishes—yet substitutions are disallowed. "I understand the desire of the chef to have everything perfect, but at times it feels as if making things convenient for the kitchen comes at the expense of the guest...Saison isn't accommodating, which should be a given at the price," he notes. "Saison isn't a restaurant that treats the customer with as much respect as it treats the food." Overall rating: three stars, with two for atmosphere and service.
Finally, Bauer notes that Saison's liquor license has come through as of this week, and while he didn't get to sample the drinks, Grub Street was able to get their hands on the cocktail menu, developed by Skenes in collaboration with an anonymous mixologist partner. It's an interesting list, with offerings like a reposado tequila, mezcal, and beet drink with "Memphis BBQ bitters" and a grilled pineapple and sherry drink.
· Saison: Four-star food, but other challenges [Chron]
· What to Drink at Saison, Which Now Has Its Full Liquor License [Grub Street]
· All Saison coverage [~ ESF ~]