It's All in the Stars

Benu, Coi, and Saison and the Race to Be S.F.’s First Michelin Three-Star Restaurant

Saison's Josh Skenes
Saison's Josh Skenes

We thought this might be the year that Michelin awarded a third star to a third Bay Area restaurant, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. Still this year’s guide promoted Saison to two stars and gave two stars to newcomer Benu as well, and now the Journal talks to chefs Joshua Skenes and Corey Lee, as well as two-star veteran Daniel Patterson (Coi), about the race to become the first three-star restaurant in San Francisco proper. Skenes may be gunning for it the most, with the recently announced changes at Saison and the upcoming move downtown which are all meant to up the restaurant’s fine-dining game.

Saison's Josh Skenes
Saison's Josh Skenes Photo: Brian Smeets/Grub Street

Reducing the seating capacity in the restaurant, Skenes says, automatically improves what’s coming out of the kitchen. "You can’t find 50 fish that are all the same quality," he says. "When you cook a broth you can’t cook it beyond a certain volume and have it come out the same."

Also of note, Benu is doing away with the à la carte option on weekends in the new year, requiring everyone to do the $180 tasting menu, much like Coi did earlier this year.

In any event, we’re glad the Journal is closing out the year by figuring out what Alan Richman figured out last spring: San Francisco dining is not what it used to be.

Hot Chefs Aim for the Stars [WSJ - subscription required, unless you click through from here]
Earlier: Saison Reduces Seating, Adds Ticket-Based Chef’s Counter
Michelin 2012: Benu, Baumé, and Saison Get Two Stars; Sons & Daughters, Atelier Crenn Both Notch One [Updated]
Alan Richman Hearts S.F. Now, Calls New York Restaurants ‘Predictable’

Benu, Coi, and Saison and the Race to Be S.F.’s First Michelin Three-Star