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Jeremy Fox’s Smith Dinners at Saison, In Pictures

The cat’s now out of the bag that Jeremy Fox is finally, after much speculation and a few aborted partnership deals, planning his own restaurant in San Francisco or the East Bay. The working name right now is Smith, and by way of a pre-preview, Fox prepared a six-course menu (with two additional dessert courses) and served it all last week at Saison while his buddy Josh Skenes was out of town hob nobbing at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Most notable for fans of the vegetable-centric chef was the use of meat or seafood in every course, but in his clever fashion, Fox managed at every turn to make the meat play second fiddle to something dirt-grown, like in the chicken-stuffed morel dish pictured at right. See our slideshow for more of our exhaustive reporting from the scene.

Earlier: Jeremy Fox Finally on the Hunt for Restaurant Spaces in S.F. and the East Bay
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For starters, just as Saison usually does, three canapes arrived. One, at bottom, a Fox signature from his Ubuntu days: a mix of English peas, mint, and white chocolate. The second, a combination of apricot and almond. The third, at top, a dollop of chicken liver mousseline with a Bing cherry and a piece of crispy chicken skin. Let the meat-eating begin!
Here came a deeply flavored but light dish of ocean flavors, with sea urchin, caviar, coastal greens, seaweed, and a seaweed pesto.
Here we had Fox at his most playful, serving a ‘tartare’ of beef heart and oyster inspired by something of Kinch’s at Manresa a few years ago, but here served like a mushroom duxelle with ice plant and a beet purée. If you closed your eyes, you’d honestly think you were eating mushrooms… it was like meat masquerading as fungi.
This was the most garden-centric dish of the night, with a collection of fresh greens, radishes, and some amazing baby turnips that Fox has been growing himself in Yountville.
Again, meat is playfully used as a stuffing for a gorgeous and huge morel mushroom, sliced in half. The chicken was tender and well seasoned, and served with some porcinis and the real stars of this plate: a mix of alliums from Fox’s garden, including an onion relish of sorts and a deeply flavored, earthy and tender onion roasted over the fire.
The last savory course was this blood sausage served with a thin slice of pork atop cereal grains, squid, and fennel. The sausage itself was exceptional.
Pastry chef Matt Tinder offered this light and lemony custard with a lighter lemon cream on top, separated by a bright layer of lemon spuma.
Probably the most interesting and surprising dessert we’ve had in a while was this cucumber soup served with fresh cucumber, coriander cake, and a scoop of milk chocolate ice cream. Who knew milk chocolate and cucumber worked together? Trust us, they do. The play of vegetal and velvety tones here was a total delight.
Jeremy Fox’s Smith Dinners at Saison, In Pictures