Sneak a Peek at the New Saison, Opening Shortly in SoMa
The space has windows onto Townsend Street, which are frosted over.

As you should know if you’re a fan, chef-partner Joshua Skenes and wine director/partner Mark Bright have packed up and moved their Michelin two-star restaurant Saison out of the Mission and over to ballpark-adjacent SoMa. The new location at 178 Townsend Street (at Third) is in the front portion of the California Electric Light Co. Building, built in 1888, which now has a condo complex in back. The new, less flood-prone spot boasts exposed brick walls, a 35-foot ceiling, plenty of natural light, and will have an even more open kitchen setup than the original one, with one banquette actually in the kitchen — Skenes has done away with the chef’s counter, saying it’s now become too trendy, and he’s decided to blur the line between front and back of house completely.

As you enter through frosted glass doors you’ll be greeted by a partial wall of firewood dividing the entry from the dining area, and some individual tables will be separated by modular, shelf-like consoles that can be shifted in order to create different sized seating areas.

The new Saison will also have a cocktail program and a small lounge, which will be new to the operation, a 5,000-bottle wine cellar, and a whole temperature-controlled room for aging meats. There are still about the same number of seats as before, though, with an intimate dining room of eighteen seats, with twelve more in the lounge.

You can still expect an open hearth in the kitchen, Huey Lewis & the News and Hall & Oates on the stereo, and a light-hearted take on serious dining. “Fine dining should be fun,” says Skenes. “It should be luxurious but it should also be as enjoyable and comfortable as possible.”

The restaurant on Folsom closed December 1 and was, ambitiously, expected to reopen by mid-December in the new location, but it does not look like that’s happening. Though we noted an OpenTable account that came alive briefly this month, that has since come down and reservations still aren’t being taken, so we believe we’re looking at January now. The official word from the team is still “TBA” on the exact date. We’ll update you as we learn more, but below, check out some sneak-peek shots we took on a walk-through yesterday, which show a fully completed kitchen, and an overall sense of the new digs.

Saison - 178 Townsend Street between 2nd and 3rd - 415-828-7990 - Reopening in January 2013

Earlier: Saison to Move to SoMa Spot, Close Original Location November 30
Saison’s Latest Tasting Menu, Illustrated
Saison Either Moving or Expanding to SoMa

The kitchen, as you can see, is pretty well done, and they’ve moved their huge central Molteni cooktop. There’s now an eight-foot, wood-burning hearth to replace the old outdoor one, which required a very expensive smoke-filtering rig up above it. The kitchen was designed by Tim Harrison, who has also done kitchen design work for Benu and the French Laundry.
One of the aforementioned “consoles” that will shift in order to create different seating arrangements.
The room remains a work in progress. Those frames by the front door will create a partial wall of firewood, of which they’ll be using a lot.
Also in the kitchen is a new, fire-fueled German bread oven called a Miwe with five baking decks in side.
The wine cellar waits to be filled.
Sneak a Peek at the New Saison, Opening Shortly in SoMa