The bar at Saison. [Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux]
Given their status as two of the most acclaimed restaurants in the Bay Area, and the commensurate high prices for a tasting menu, both Saison and Manresa have attempted to offer new menus at more reasonable price points in their respective lounges. This has been something of a challenge for Saison, which started out with a $48 salon tasting menu, then bumped it to a minimum of $88, and has now scrapped it altogether, offering a rotating selection of a la carte dishes in its place. Diners can now sample, among other offerings, Joshua Skenes' Monterey Bay abalone, stew of rice and abalone liver, coastal greens and artichoke ($20); vegetable crudités and nasturtium honey ($18); and wood pigeon roasted over cherry wood embers with cherry leaf, dried cherry and cherry blossom ($38). "I wanted to provide flexibility," Skenes told Inside Scoop, and all dishes will range from $12-38. The menu will change regularly, and reservations are still a must for the lounge, which only seats 14.
Meanwhile, Manresa has opted to stick with a more tasting-menu-like format, offering five small plates for $48. SFoodie's "Dapper Diner" stopped in, and enjoyed garden beignets, a Belon oyster topped with seaweed ice, and dessert and mignardises from pastry chef Stephanie Prida, among other offerings. Though there are couches in the lounge, he recommends a seat at the bar for the best experience.
· Saison unveils an a la carte food menu in its salon area [Inside Scoop]
· Manresa's New Lounge Menu: Elegant Bites for Under $50 [SFoodie]