San Francisco’s Saison might just be the ultimate pop-up success story ever.
In 2009, it started humbly enough as a once-a-week pop-up in the rear part of the casual Stable Cafe in the Mission District. It featured the uncanny juxtaposition of Chef Josh Skenes’ high-concept food and Sommelier Mark Bright’s exceptional wines in proper Riedel stemware contrasted with jeans-clad servers attending to guests seated in slat-style garden-variety chairs at bare-bones wooden tables.
Fast forward to 2013, where it’s has not only been transported to a different part of town, but now holds the distinction of being the priciest restaurant in the city. Its tasting menu will set you back $248 per person. If you want wine pairings, that”ll be another $148 per person.
Perhaps you saw Bon Appetit magazine’s September edition, in which it named Saison as one of “America’s Best New Restaurants.” The insightful story broke out why the restaurant costs run so high: The custom build-out of the kitchen and dining room? $2.8 million. Food costs per week? $15,000. The four tanks that hold live seafood? Also $15,000. The meat aging room? $40,000. The wood-burning hearth? $50,000. That hand-made dinner plate you’re eating off of? $300. The Levi’s-designed cook’s uniforms? $500 each. And that cashmere throw provided if you get chilly? You guessed it — $500.
And the place seats only 32.
This week, Saison added even more luster — if that’s possible — by hosting five renowned chefs, each cooking alongside Skenes on a different night to create a 12-course tasting menu for a spendy $500 per person.
Tuesday, it was Chef Laurent Gras, formerly of L20 in Chicago and the Fifth Floor in San Francisco. Thursday, it was Chef Matthew Lightner of Atera in New York City. Tonight, it’ll be Chef Guenter Seeger, who owned Seeger’s in Atlanta. Saturday will wrap up with Chef John Shields, previously of Town House in Virgina.