Saison

San FranciscoEating Out

Saison

The spirit and taste of a campfire cook-out, indoors...

The element of fire pervades Saison, the creeping aroma of seeping smoke from the kitchen, the bright flashes that flare up through skilfull lighting. The San Francisco restaurant is the bricks-and-mortar embodiment of a campfire cook-out, infused with the same flavour and atmosphere, delivered with Michelin star ingenuity and swathed in hearth-rug comfort.

Owned by executive chef Joshua Skenes and sommelier Mark Bright, Saison started as a spark – a pop-up project in the Mission district – but is now a blazing hot two-star venue in South of Market. You don’t get double-starred with gimmicks, and Skenes has earned his through ingenious cooking techniques using fire, ember and ash to coax out sophisticated flavours. Bright has assembled a 5,000 bottle cellar to complement the menu, which is pared down to selection each night.

The venue is cosy – just 30 seats split between the restaurant and bar/lounge in what was the California Electric Light Company premises – and this intimacy has been accentuated by the décor, designed by the owners. Unbroken by partition walls of any sort, the interior is dark and red and woody, with nice personal touches like the cashmere shawls over the backs of chairs providing both texture and warmth. We suddenly have a raging desire for barbecue…

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Photography, Bonjwing Lee

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