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Rail Paul

San Francisco: Deserving of three Michelin stars?

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Doesn't he get special treatment everywhere? That's been a perhaps unfair unassumption of mine.

 

 

I hadn't seen that link to Eater. Very interesting. I was discussing bloggers with a chef friend in Napa. During that discussion it came up that he'd heard UE is helping write the Saison cookbook, I would say that in this case your assumption re him receiving special treatment at Saison is correct. Ulterior Motive for his choice perhaps ;) .

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I had yet another 3* meal at Manresa Sunday night. And there was no 'for your next presentation' or 'for your final presentation' etc. The service was polished, yet not stiff or stilted. As a point of reference/comparison--I've had 4 meals at Le Bernardin (2 in Dec. and 2 in Feb.), And two at Manresa in approximately the same time frame. And while I agree with the recent comments about meals MFFers have enjoyed recently at Le Bernardin, between the two, Manresa takes the gold. Whether Manresa will get that third star, or one of the others gets it, well, I know who would get my vote. While I cannot personally speak to 'how good' Saison is, Michael Bauer can (there is a link to the review which requires a subscription) in this followup. He loved the food-gave it 4 stars. But he found enough other facets of the visit to be problematic. This particularly stuck with me:

"The next morning, with lovely memories of the night before, we took out the canneles to enjoy with coffee. But only the partly eaten one was included. What did they do with the untouched one?

It reminded me again of what Saison isn't - a restaurant that treats the customer with as much respect as it treats the food."

 

If the Michelin inspectors saw the same faults, I'd say the chances of Saison being the next 3* are greatly diminished.

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Doesn't he get special treatment everywhere? That's been a perhaps unfair unassumption of mine.

 

 

I hadn't seen that link to Eater. Very interesting. I was discussing bloggers with a chef friend in Napa. During that discussion it came up that he'd heard UE is helping write the Saison cookbook, I would say that in this case your assumption re him receiving special treatment at Saison is correct. Ulterior Motive for his choice perhaps ;) .

 

 

There is nothing ulterior about my motives. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I've been anything but ulterior about my relationship with chefs. I disclose just about as much as I can. You are free to believe or distrust as much as you like about my opinions.

 

Regardless, at the time the Eater comment was posted, I hadn't been to coi or Manresa in over three years. So, I did not feel comfortable making any statements about those restaurants directly. My first meal at Benu was also not a fair basis by which to judge the restaurant - I went a few weeks after they first opened. Since that comment was posted on Eater, I have been back to coi and Benu. While I enjoyed my recent meals better than my first meal at each, based on my recent experiences (now, two dinners at each coi, Benu, and saison each), I still stand by my statement: I believe that saison shows the most promise for being awarded three Michelin stars.

 

As for Manresa, I haven't been in three years, so I don't feel comfortable making any statements about its promise for three stars. However, I will note that my last post about Manresa on my blog was entitled "syzygy."

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including AB's comment in your response to evelyn makes it seem like you're questioning the idea that you often get special treatment, which is frankly absurd.

 

you do know that whatever you say about your relationship at the beginning of your blog post, at many places there is NO relationship at all between what you're served and what a normal guest gets, right?

 

from my perspective this makes an unknown portion of your blog well photographed pr from the restaurant, regardless of what your intentions are. I'm not questioning your motives, and FWIW you don't seem like an asshole the way that fatguy and ozersky do, but I think restaurants have realized that you will take beautiful pictures of their food and present them to an affluent readership in a way that looks like criticism. any relationship you do or don't have with the restaurant is irrelevant.

 

I also think it's telling that you say you disclose your relationships, but your response doesn't answer the basic things about the relationship that evelyn questioned - did you pay for your meal(s) at saison? are you working on a book with them? did you have the same meal as the rest of the diners that evening?

 

also, do you always mention when you get a free meal?

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Just to be clear-I did not say UE did not pay for his meals-only that I'd been told he was working on their cookbook. "Special treatment" would be receiving courses/meals that the normal person off the street would not receive as Aaron described.

 

Personally, I think bloggers who are widely disseminated or others (chefs/cookbok authors etc.) who are asked to make comments on websites and publications with a broad reach should also make sure that they preface that they haven't experienced the other candidates (recently or at all) before doing so to provide an accurate frame of reference. Or, barring that, perhaps not comment. But, that's just my Pollyanna-ish view of a perfect world and most certainly not a likely occurence, unfortunately.

 

 

ETA: I don't read your blog. I'd be curious to know about the comp issue Aaron raised. Courses? Whole meal? None of the above? Also was the Napa chef correct?

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really funny blog post & comments on the UE blog about special treatment.

 

eta: it just gets funnier the more I think about it.

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My meal at Saison in 2012 was the best of the year, and a 3* meal in a 1/2* setting.

 

At the new place, it was a not even quite a 2* meal. Never thought there could be too much unami, but there was. Everything was smoked this, mushroom that, all sounded great, but not enough contrast. And the pricing (you don't know the price until you show up) isn't acceptable to me (you have to guarentee the reservation to a credit card).

To their credit, when I discussed their pricing policy (at $225, I was in, at $275 or whatever it was, I was out), they arranged to honor their baseline price. Otherwise the disappointment would have been sharper.

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What are current recommendations for Bay area restaurants including some in SF itself?

Currently going to Manresa and Chez Panisse. Saison I have heard is past its prime...

 

Might have one more high end meal when I am in the area.

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I will again restate my love for Atelier Crenn, in the wonderfully named neighborhood of Cow Hollow. She's been getting some good press lately (Food Arts and Art Culinaire). Tasting menus only, better cooking through chemistry but truly delicious.

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AC or Coi. Hearing that Saison is past it's prime makes me laugh.

 

Benu would be the other one.

 

I'd add Sons and Daughters at the upper mid level. Also, if itiming works, check out Lazy Bear. I'm sure if you mentioned your visiting, Dave would fit you in.

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Makes you laugh because it is such a typical foody comment or because it is true?

It sounded like the kind of thing I like but it got panned by an admittedly supercritical foodie friend who I normally see eye to eye with.

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