I’ll definitely return to Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare (now in Manhattan) and I consider it worth it for me. “Worth it” is always subjective, but I liked it a lot, and compared to many other fine dining menus around that price, it compares very favorably in my book. To a certain extent, the flavor combinations may be a bit more tried and true (but not stolid at all like Le Bernardin). However, the dishes are very well executed, and they spoil you with luxury ingredients - we had fluke, bafun uni, a big dayboat scallop, nodoguro, a generous serving of caviar, madai, king crab, uni/foie/abalone risotto, duck, a5 wagyu, and dessert, and the price was all-inclusive. Wine was reasonable. The last time I had a tasting menu with those kind of ingredients was Vintage Cave’s Kazuma, which was just about twice the price. CTBF is a fun, relaxed meal (David Bowie and 'The Stones playing while I’m eating some grilled madai with chanterelles), a relative “value” compared to some others which have a menu at ~the same price, and a true 3-star, IMO.
Saison and Chef’s Table have their own individual DNA, of course; their respective menus are quite different - even the uni toast dish has a very different take and emphasis. What Saison really has going for them is the live hearth, their own garden, and some brilliant flavor combinations.
It’s almost Summer - excited to see what they do again with Sungolds…and the smoked caviar with corn custard and tomato water gelee was one of my top dishes in years.
Nodding off with some Talisker now, but I could go for some of these:
I went to Single Thread a couple months back an really enjoyed it. Perhaps one of my favorite meals in the past few years. Flavor combinations really came through for me. Around that same time I went to Benu and Quince as well. I would say my favorite was Single Thread, followed closely by Benu and then Quince.
I am heading up to the Sonoma Valley area for work in mid-October. I have always wanted to try Meadowood, but am apprehensive to throw down a ton of cash sight unseen. My mind is vacillating between the shorter bar menu or the regular dining room experience. Wondering what are your thoughts.
I haven’t tried the bar menu, actually. I believe it used to be just bar snacks but it looks like there’s now a 3-4 course option. The bar drinks are quite good at any rate - even some nonalcoholic beverages like “Flavors of Cabernet,” if you want to keep it light.
I’ve done the regular dining room and the Chef’s Counter. Both are excellent. I consider Saison and Meadowood my two favorite high-end places in Northern California (I haven’t tried Single Thread yet…maybe some other time). FWIW, we did Meadowood and Manresa on back to back nights and personally my party and I had a strong preference for Meadowood. I also did that back-to-back Manresa and Saison and Saison blew me away. Manresa is still quite good and I know that all 3 kitchens are very talented, that was just my experience with those particular menus (and I understand that each menu changes frequently). I mention that to say that Meadowood has hit all the high points for me and I would want the full experience. I’m not sure if the bar menu has different portion sizes, but 3-4 of Meadowood’s tasting menu courses would not fill me at all. A lot of the tasting menu courses are pretty small.
Btw, Meadowood releases reservations for its “12 Days of Christmas” in December, if collaboration dinners are your thing.
Thanks. Thank you again for the great recommendation! It’s so special.
For the Lobster, it was really amazing. What was on top of that? Magic sauce. Seriously, I don’t know. The server went over all of the condiments and explained most of the dish but I didn’t remember if he said what was on top. It added enough savory seasoning (not spicy) to enhance each bite (even without the rest of the condiments), but that 10 Hour Roasted Pineapple was definitely the winner!
For the Sumo Orange Creamsicle, no the skin wasn’t edible. Your dessert at heston blumenthal looks amazing! What was inside?
Great report, @Chowseeker1999! Yes, Saison is world-class, indeed. One of the very few.
They tweak their sauces here and there, but I know that in the past, they used a homemade “X.O.” style sauce on the lobster. It contained peanuts, so I asked them to omit it. Instead, I was served lobster sashimi with a broth of the shells, meyer lemon, butter, and wakame salt (basically the condiment to one of the renditions of live diamond turbot sashimi). I’m not sure if the above is the same XO sauce, but it looks similar to me.
Cedric Grolet of Le Meurice is the master pastry chef who does trompe l’oeil fruit. Though, I know that Heston Blummenthal and The Fat Duck have a sterling reputation for not only whimsy but also technique.
That lobster dish is insane. Loved the pineapple sauce that comes with it as well.Usually not a huge fan of uni, or maybe just had a bunch of bad experiences at other places, but the liquid toast at Saison is amazing. I’ve seen them teasing these giant slices of it on IG as well…
I don’t think this is really true. Their pricing has changed from time to time, but not as often as ingredients have. For a while, starting in their current location in 2013, they had a $248 menu and a $398 “Discovery” menu, the latter including more luxurious ingredients. Then for a long time, it was a single, $398 menu only, with some customizability within reason. Just recently, they made the caviar optional at $88, and dropped the price to $298.
Their format has changed to a shorter tasting menu, more “family style” so to speak (in a loose sense of the term), so gone are the days of 16-24 smaller courses. One “course,” such as the diamond turbot, may include several preparations like the barbecued head. The uni toast is being served in a bigger format. Wild game has been on the menu for a couple of years now.
Those go down too easily!
I wish they would bring back some of their classic courses, like “duck liver toffee” and the “fire in the sky” bone marrow beet. Duck liver toffee being the perfect segue to dessert, and also a textural marvel. You would’ve loved those.
They used to switch this one around a bit; I’m excited to see the next evolution of this dish. The first one I tried had corn pudding, tomato water gelee, okra, and caviar with smoked salt. Texturally incredible and those were some pure flavors at their peak. But my favorite was one with a kelp gelee and sea herbs, with toasted parker rolls and melted pork fat. Actually, that’s one of the best things I’ve ever eaten…
Thanks for the retrospective! Those previous dishes sound amazing! I wonder if when you reserve you can “suggest” to them something you’d like to see? Perhaps it might influence their menu when you finally arrive a few months later?