[Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux]
Bon Appétit dropped their annual 10 Best New Restaurants in America list today, and Joshua Skenes' Saison scored the number-two spot. Top honors went to Alma, Ari Taymor's Los Angeles restaurant, which made Bon App critic Andrew Knowlton feel as excited as "a teenage boy on his first real date." Alma is the second California winner in two years, after Knowlton elevated last year's winner and hometown hit State Bird Provisions to the national playing field.
Saison's silver medal comes courtesy of the restaurant's "18 exquisite courses ... which are made from maniacally sourced ingredients at their ultimate peak and served on museum-worthy plates and bowls." Knowlton was quick to acknowledge the gilded elephant in the room, pointing out that with the prix fixe menu, wine pairings and a few cocktails at Saison, "your table of two will have spent around $1,018.25." But the real shocker? "It was worth it." House-made rhubarb soda, Parmesan custard topped with gold leaf, blue wing sea robin crudo and abalone liver are just some of the dishes that left Knowlton with the conviction that chef Skenes is "a flawless technician who's at the top of his game at just 34 years old."
Knowlton also added some perspective on the bank-breaking price: "If, like me, you'd rather spend your money on a once-in-a-lifetime meal than on a new laptop or Super Bowl tickets, it's time to book a table." To illustrate why it's worth the money, he laid out a slideshow on the cost of all of Saison's luxury trappings, which include $24K monthly overhead, a $1 million kitchen with $1,000 copper pots, $15K fish tanks, $300 plates, and $500 cashmere throws. All that for 32 seats definitely adds up, especially with $15K/week in food costs.
Here's Bon App's video of a night in the kitchen at Saison:
Meanwhile, State Bird was kind enough to hand over the crown to Alma and wish them well on Twitter.
congrats! @almarestaurant @AriTaymor It's going to be an amazing ride, trust us! your friends @statebirdsf @AndrewOKnowlton @bonappetit— statebirdprovisions (@statebirdsf) August 12, 2013
· The 10 Best New Restaurants in America 2013 [Bon Appetit]
· Rich Table, Saison Named to Bon App Best New Restaurant Longlist [~ ESF ~]