One high end dinner: Benu vs Crenn vs Coi vs Other

Visiting SF and looking for one high end dinner. Have Benu and Atelier Crenn and Coi on the list. Which would you pick an why? Perhaps you can suggest another high end option. We generally lean towards seafood and/or Asian influences. Possibly Coi, given seafood centric menu? We don’t care very much about the beauty of the food presentation. Flavors are much more important.

Saison for this reason:

I’ve been to all three and can share some of my thoughts…

Benu - Quite simply, one of the best meals I have had the pleasure of enjoying. The presentation, flavors, service, and atmosphere were all on point. Even the bread service was outstanding. The menu at the time did not lean heavily on seafood per se, but dishes such as the oyster in kimchi and the “shark’s fin” soup were wonderful.

Crenn - It was a super fun meal. Kind of like going to an amusement park. And I am hard pressed to call to mind any particular dish that stood out. There was an ice cream pop that tasted like a menthol lozenge! For me, the cumulative experience was better than its individual components.

Coi - Went when Patterson still helmed the kitchen. Beautiful room, great service, and pretty plates. And it was one of the most aggressively acidic and salty meals I have ever consumed. Several courses in and I wanted to scream, “Uncle!!!” Haven’t been since Chef Kirkely has taken the reigns.

1 Like

Haven’t been to Coi under either chef, but completely agree about Benu and Crenn. Flavors at Benu are really outstanding. Along with Single Thread, one of my favorite meals ever.

1 Like

Well, since you offered.

Try Khai.

Modern Vietnamese, in a tasting menu format.

Another place I really like is Californios. It flies under the radar a bit, but the cooking has been great on both of my visits. Here is a thread if you’re interested: Mexico + California: The Inventive, Engaging, Stunning Food at Californios [Review + Pics]


Appreciate all the suggestions. Saison used to have bar with its own small menu. Is it still the case?

Never heard of this place and I need to go immediately. Like right now. I need this.
What’s the general price range because #poor?

Hi @beam,

On my last visit, it wasn’t available. Folks would sit there for drinks, and 2 people asked to eat their tasting menu there, chatting up the bar manager and themselves.

$95 for 10-11 courses (depending on the menu as it varies).

FWIW, I would skip the wine pairing. In fact, I would skip wine entirely here.

1 Like

Very reasonable. Too bad about the wine, but I can’t wait to try it soon!

Ended up going to Californios, seating at the Chef’s Counter. The place was quite outstanding. We had about 20 courses with wine pairing. Almost all hits and very few misses. Wine pairing were spot on. Highly recommend the place.

On another note, we had an unexpected opening the following day and made last minute visit to Petit Crenn.
It was terrible. Haphazard service, over salted, over cooked dishes, etc, we could not wait to get out. I would think Crenn can do much much better with a casual restaurant that bears her family name.


Hi @beam,

So glad you liked Californios. :slight_smile: It’s one of our favorite places in the SF area.

And thanks for the warning on Petit Crenn; that’s shocking (I’ve never been).

She probably can’t hire and retain qualified staff.

It’s probably especially bad this time of year, when staff will decide to quit and go on vacation, knowing that they can get another gig any time because restaurants are so desperate.

All maybe good reasons…but I would have thought she would put more into a place that is “restaurant inspired by Chef Dominique Crenn’s Mother, Grandmother and home in Brittany, France.”
We had a $87 tasting menu and every dish was a “miss”. Bass with clams was inedible. Lobster corn had no hint of lobster (visible or flavor), I was wondering if they forgot it?

Except for tamale, every dish was perfect! Seafood courses especially!
Chef Val was there all night making sure that both the kitchen and the service run perfectly.
Here is a menu from our visit and a photo of one my favorite crab dishes.

1 Like

Interesting pairing, how much did it cost?

I never realized that place was at 22nd near Capp. You could play mini-golf at Urban Putt before or after.

1 Like

Californios Menu × 2 $314.00
Beverage Pairing × 2 $194.00
Subtotal $508.00
Service Included (20%) $101.60
Taxes (8.5%) $51.82
Total $661.42

Not exactly a bargain!