It’s Rabbit Season at Saison

Our latest travels brought us to San Francisco’s Saison, whose chef Joshua Skenes coincidentally just made Food and Wine magazine’s list of Best New Chefs of 2011.  The restaurant offers only a set menu, which listed rabbit as the main entrée for the night.  I have no qualms on eating cute furry little animals, but I have never enjoyed the often rubbery texture of rabbit in my past (several) experiences.  So with dread, I hopped into the set menu before me… 

 

Flatbread Cracker

 
Not exactly an amuse bouche, but this small dish (along with a side of osetra caviar) came by compliments of the chef. 

tasting notes:

  • flatbread cracker adds nice crunch
  • creme fraiche adds subtle tartness
  • onions add bite

rating:  3.5

 

 

 

 

Canape 1 - Oyster

 
First course on the menu was a round of canapes.  The first of the three canapes offered was an Oyster…

tasting notes:

  • meaty
  • briny
  • smooth
  • dill/grass adds pungent flavor, in a good way

rating:  4

 

 

 

 

Canape 2 - Parsnip

 The second of the three canapes offered was a Parsnip Puree with Parsnip Foam topped with a Parsnip Chip…

tasting notes:

  • salmon roe adds POP! POP! POP!
  • parsnip adds subtle sweetness
  • egg yolk layer adds congealed texture (I’m not a fan of eggs)
  • parsnip chip adds crunch

rating:  3

  •  

 

 

 

Canape 3 - Radish

 
The third of the three canapes offered was a Radish…

tasting notes:

  • crunch, crunch
  • that radish aftertaste (very strong)
  • nasturtium honey adds subtle sweetness

rating:  2.5

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Spot Prawn

 
Second course on the menu was Wild Spot Prawn, where the tail was cold sashimi style and the head was flash fried hot.  Although the entire prawn is edible (head to tail), I had to abstain from eating the head as I am allergic to shrimp shells….

tasting notes:

  • crunchy yet gelatinous
  • clean, fresh
  • yellow tomato granita and gelee add subtle required acidity

rating:  3.5

 

 

 

 

Brassicas

 
Third course on the menu was Brassicas, which consisted of dehydrated brassicas (savoy cabbage, spinach, broccoli rabe) reconstituted with a bonito broth.  The entire brassicas ingredients are used; if not seen in the dish, the brassicas stems and such were used in the bonito broth…

tasting notes:

  • inherent brassicas/broccoli flavor
  • toasted crunch from barley, faro, and still-dehydrated brassicas

    savory bonito broth melds the dish together

rating:  4.5

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Crustaceans

The fourth course on the menu offered sea urchin and crab in a crustacean broth with Meyer lemon foam…

 tasting notes:

  • sea urchin has smooth texture
  • crab has shredded texture
  • crustacean broth is a bit oily, but has good seafood flavor
  • tarragon went unnoticed thankfully (I hate tarragon)

rating:  4

 

  

 

Pasternack's Rabbit

 
The fifth course on the menu was that dreaded rabbit dish.  To my surprise, the rabbit texture was not rubbery at all.  Great thanks to Chef Skenes for finally changing my mind on what rabbits have to offer!  Funny enough, this dish is topped with the dandelion greens, chervil, and other leafage that was offered to the rabbit before it was killed…
 

tasting notes:

succulent rabbit, in two forms

savory rabbit jus

barely overcooked peas add freshness

rating:  5

 

 

 

Lou Bergier Pichin

 
The sixth course on the menu was a soft cow’s milk cheese wrapped in brioche and coated in honey…

tasting notes:

  • creamy brie-like cheese
  • sweet brioche
  • sticky honeycomb adds more sweetness

rating:  6

 

 

 

 

 

Preserve Lemon 1:7

 The seventh course on the menu was lemon probably done seven ways…

tasting notes:

  • creamy lemon custard is a bit salty in some spots
  • lemon gelee and lemon foam add more lemon flavor
  • chrysanthemum adds slightly grassy flavor (unwanted)
  • missing something…

rating:  4

 

 

 

 

Milk Chocolate

 The eighth course on the menu was a milk chocolate dessert.  This probably won’t be a fair review as I personally hate milk chocolate…

tasting notes:

  • chocolate
  • salty
  • RYE wafers?  WHY?!!??  Blah!

rating:  1

 

 

 

 

Popcorn Ice Cream

 Though not on the official set menu, the last dessert was a scoop of popcorn ice cream…

tasting notes:

  • popcorn flavor
  • ice cream
  • not much else to say

rating:  3.5

 

 

 

 

 

Note:  ratings are given on a range from 0 – 6,

where 0 indicates God Awful — 3 indicates Humanly Mundane — 6 indicates Deliciously Evil

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