Decadent Bourbon Steak

Medai snapper (foreground) and Tasmanian sea trout (background) cooked to perfection at Bourbon Steak.

Dining at a Michael Mina restaurant is always an exercise in excess.

In the best of ways, of course.

After all, this is the chef who popularized the idea of trios, where it’s not simply enough to present just one rendition of a dish, but three different ones simultaneously on one plate.

It takes skill, timing and sophistication to do that well.

And that’s just what’s on display at Mina’s new Bourbon Steak in the Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square. Bourbon Steak takes the place of the former Michael Mina flagship restaurant there, which has moved to the old Aqua restaurant space on California Street.

The once chic white and eggshell blue 102-seat dining room has been transformed with a more masculine atmosphere with dark charcoal floor-to-ceiling columns and hues of deep cognac and sand. The logo of a steer can be found subtly echoed on the Mondrian-like window treatments and water is brought to the tables in whimsical glass milk bottles.

This marks Mina’s fifth Bourbon Steak nationwide. And he has the formula down pat.

Executive Chef Omri Aflalo, who did an externship with Mina while at the Culinary Institute of America, is at the helm of the San Francisco locale.

The broad menu includes some of Mina’s greatest hits, including his addicting lobster corn dogs ($16), black truffle popcorn ($15), and lobster pot pie (market price). Since it is a steak house, you’ll also find the likes of a 28-ounce Porterhouse for $68, an 18-ounce bone-in rib-eye for $42, and a 6-ounce Australian Wagyu strip (market price).

Recently, I was invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant to enjoy a special tasting menu.

Duck fat fries with three dipping sauces.

You know you’re in for something when the first thing that arrives at the table is a trio of duck-fat fries with a sour cherry ketchup, a smoked onion aioli that tasted almost of bacon, and a zingy yuzu sauce. You tell yourself you’re going to eat just a couple, but then you finish every one. Every restaurant should take a lesson in fries from Mina, as these are as perfect as they come.

A tiny and rich bite of foie gras.

The decadence continued with a small rectangle of foie gras terrine with huckleberry glaze that just melted on the tongue.

Next, a lightened, more refined version of a classic wedge salad. This one, with half a Little Gem lettuce head, drizzled with a take on Green Goddess dressing and shaved Pt. Reyes Blue. Alongside it on the plate were heirloom tomatoes with creamy burrata and a fantastic, salty, piquant black olive vinaigrette. On an accompanying plate were lettuce cups filled with Hokaiddo scallops and ebi, mixed with compressed sweet melon, mint and pickled onion.

A refined take on a wedge salad.

Tomatoes, creamy burrata and a thick, salty black olive vinaigrette.

Raw scallops and shrimp with melon and mint in lettuce cups.

That was followed by lobster. Not just any lobster, but butter-poached and sitting on a soft crepe filled with sweet corn kernels. A Thai curry broth gave it all a complex Asian flair.

Luxurious butter-poached lobster.

The tiniest cioppino ever.

Alongside was the cutest cioppino ever — inside a demitasse cup with a sliver of a crouton balanced on top. Although the chunks of fish were very tender, the cioppino broth was surprisingly more like a sweet tomato soup. It made me think of a grilled cheese sandwich far more than a classic seafood stew.

A duo of Tasmanian sea trout, the color of salmon but with a milder flavor, and Medai snapper showed just how well the restaurant executes fish dishes. The skin on each was as crisp as a potato chip, with the flesh as silky as can be.

Beautiful peas and carrots.

Sweet and dreamy creamed corn.

With it came sides: a small cast-iron skillet of sweet carrots and snap peas, along with another cast-iron pan of luxurious creamed corn that I don’t want to know the calorie-count of.

Beef arrived three ways: an extremely marbled American Kobe flat iron steak that was incredibly rich, a tender America Kobe rib cap, and short ribs, which had been cooked sous vide for 72 hours. The latter were off the bone and cut into neat slices fanned out on the plate. As Aflalo later explained, short ribs are sold in three parts — flap, flat and steak. The first two are what are usually found sold in Asian or conventional supermarkets. The steak, however, is what high-end restaurants such as Bourbon Steak prefer. Rather than a stringy texture, it has more uniformity.

American Kobe rib cap (top) and American Kobe flat iron (bottom).

Short ribs cooked sous vide for 72 hours.

If all that beef weren’t enough, it was served with sides: a fluffy spinach souffle with Parmigiano cream poured into it tableside and a loaded baked potato. Was it ever. Picture a large baked potato and a waiter pouring pureed potatoes whipped with white Cheddar into it, then topping it with more orange Cheddar, bacon and chives. Yes, potato on potato action. And it was as good as it sounds.

An airy spinach souffle.

A loaded -- and I mean "loaded'' -- baked potato.

Not to be outdone, Pastry Chef Catherine Schimenti sent out four full-sized desserts.

Chocolat malts.

OK, the chocolate malt milk shakes were cute and small. But the rest were regular-sized and very hard to resist: a classic almond financier with strawberry compote, a banana tarte tatin that was expertly flipped onto a plate tableside by the server, and cinnamon sugar beignets that were warm, addicting and some of the best I’ve ever had.

Financier with strawberries.

Caramelized bananas on a puff pastry tart.

Beignets that you never want to stop eating.

The very last treat? A caramel bonbon on a stick.

One last morsel of chocolate.

I don’t know the last time I’ve been this full from a dinner.

But at a Michael Mina restaurant, it’s all about excess that can’t be denied.

Another Michael Mina Restaurant: My Dinner at RN74 in San Francisco

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Date: Tuesday, 16. November 2010 5:25
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Chefs, Ginger, Meat, Restaurants

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21 comments

  1. 1

    Wow – everything looks fantastic! Sign me up for some of the sour cherry ketchup… and the creamed corn. ;) That beef looks like it would just melt in you mouth.OK, Im hungry now…

  2. 2

    Wow! Was there anything you didn’t eat?!

  3. 3

    Lindsay: I doubt it. Hah. It sure seemed like we ate everything on the menu. ;)

  4. 4

    Everything looks so good, even the desserts! Is the menu all ala carte or does he have a tasting menu like the old Mina? And do I have to take out a second mortgage for the tasting menu? ;-)

  5. 5

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  6. 6

    I loved those duck fat fries!!

  7. 7

    This is quite the amazing feast! You’re right, that is the cutest cup of cioppino I’ve ever seen! Love the gorgeous desserts too!

  8. 8

    Sure looks like an amazing meal! The beef three ways looks fantastic and so do the desserts!

  9. 9

    wow everything here looks fabulous!! I love those duck fat fries, they have such a great flavour.

  10. 10

    You ate ALL that food!!! I’m envious.The food looked fabulous. Great photos, btw. If it were me, the next day, I’d take my laptop to the gym and blog between the treadmill, lap pool and weight room. Then go home and take a five mie walk. :)

  11. 11

    Looks & sounds fabulous! Thanks for doing such a fabulous job taking us along on your dining experience – your writing and photos are always such a joy to look at and read!

  12. 12

    Jai: I only wish I was that coordinated to do all that with a laptop in my hands.

    Single Guy Ben: It’s an a la carte menu. And no second mortgage needed, well, unless you get thirds on the caviar service. ;)

  13. 13

    It can’t be just a couple when it comes to fries! All of us will fight for all the perfect fries :)

  14. 14

    i’m supposed to say something profound here about this fabulous & delectable post you have shared with us, but to be honest all i can think of is how can i recreate that sour cherry-ketchup at home?
    i’m so serious. lol bad i know but i did read everything and you know i enjoyed it.

  15. 15

    I must go there. Wow. Absolutely speechless.

  16. 16

    Classic Seat Dining…

    [...] on Green Goddess dressing and shaved Pt. Reyes Blue. Alongside it on the plate [...]…

  17. 17

    Love the idea of trio’s. So many Beef cuts that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. My preference is Good Beef Flavor enhanced, not covered. I have done Wine and Beef Tastings where we do a Top Round London Broil offered in 14 different Rubs and Marinades to sample. I also Like Korean Style Ribs done in three Varieties. Maui, Korean and then Peppercorn/Garlic.

    Love all of your Pictures as well!

  18. 18

    You had me at duck fat fries and then I just wanted to lick my screen. This looks insane. Along with Frances I have some restaurant visits to attend to!

  19. 19

    [...] Trio of duck fat fries at Bourbon Steak in San Francisco. First of all, they’re free. Yup, every table gets these [...]

  20. 20

    [...] And: My Dinner at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak [...]

  21. 21

    [...] And: Bourbon Steak [...]

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