Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review: Fleur de Lys, San Francisco

When you're living on a different continent to your partner you want the times that you get together to be special.  What could be more special for two foodies than a degustation at one of San Francisco's most famous restaurants?

Fleur de Lys is Hubert Keller's delightful formal dining offering which offers some novel dishes and interesting taste and texture explorations. 

As it was a special date night we opted for the luxurious 5 course menu $98USD plus matching wine tastings for $75USD each. The wine tastings were a little overly generous in my mind, our formal dining manners went out the window somewhere around course 4 and lead to us raucously giggling throughout the final dishes. 

Fig and walnut bread to start

Amuse bouche of pesto volute and miniature pickles

"Symphony of" Toasted duck ham and mozzarella slider, French potato salad with white anchovy, "Faux gras" mousse and piquillo gazpacho 

You just know that I'm going to order any dish with liver mousse but the slider and the gazpacho (complete with straw!) really take the cake. 

"Colourful" vegetable ragout served with poached egg, truffles and truffle port wine sauce. 

Honestly poached egg dishes are one of my favourite things to order in formal restaurants as they really elevate a wonderful texture out of the breakfast plate. 

Muscovy duck breast with Eggplant, Olive Salad, purple olive jus and duck confit "cigar"

Cigars of rich meat are one of my favourite things of all time and even though I had duck in my apetizer this was delicious. The spiced pudding side dish was another textural deviation that surprised and delighted. 

Bacon crusted sea scallops with black beluga lentils, pork belly, pickled shallots and harissa

Pork belly topped with scallop *and* bacon? It's rather like he listed all the decadent ingredients he could and then played darts and added whatever he hit. 

Coffee rubbed buffalo steak with pickled figs caramelised leeks, espresso and fig red wine sauce and cornbread Madeleine

One of the most excellent signs of good service is when the waiter will let me make substitutions. In this case I asked for an additional meat course rather than the seafood course and was obliged without issue. 

Oven roasted venison loin with truffled baby bok choy accented with a rich cocoa nib red wine reduction, Spanish chorizo and a cocoa tuile

This dish just oozes with dark decadence. All it needs is a side of tobacco jus and the sticky rich combination is complete.

Fleurburger - lightly spiced dark chocolate ganache, home made Beignet Banana flavoured milk shake and frozen fennel ice cream "Pommes Frites"

The most famous (and most novel!) dish on the menu, a confusing delight of sweets made to look like a classic American takeout meal. 

Alsation pain d'epices mousse bar - Mango and raspberry flavoured ice cream on lime meringue Esprite gateau "Black Forest", cherry compote flavoured with Balsamic and fleur de sel

Another dish with so many tastes and textures, each a little morsel of wonder. 

Petit fours

But wait there's more! Coffee and cognac and another flight of taste adventures. 

What can you say? Hubert Keller is a celebrated chef for good reason and a celebrity chef that deserves his fame. The variation in textures and tastes and the decadent ingredients that formal dining affords (including so many of my favourite foods) are just wonderful. Added to this the price difference between food of this quality between the US and Australia means that I would have been fairly happy at twice the price. Hardly an every week outing but a very reasonable sum for such excellent food when out for a special date night. 

Fleur de Lys

Formal dining degustation
Book well in advance and be on time for your seating

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