Early Bird Special: Saison

J. Birdsall
Halibut in smoky seafood broth at a Saison prix fixe from July.
An early nibble from the Weekly's Wednesday food review.

In any kind of normal economy -- you know, the one where the roast chicken at Zuni was a logical weeknight option when you didn't quite feel like pushing a cart through Safeway -- Joshua Skenes would own the kind of fine-dining establishment that'd soak up major magazine ink. Instead, the 30-year-old cooking phenom has had to make do with the nonstaurant, both as Carte415 and Saison, the weekend prix fixes he and Mark Bright have devised at Stable Café (2124 Folsom at 17th St.). SF Weekly critic Matthew Stafford invests time in the concept this week, describing a series of courses as meticulously planned and crafted as any on the Bay Area's Michelin short list. Taste the vadouvan later today at SFWeekly.com. Until then, enjoy SFoodie's little amuse in the form of an extended excerpt (after the jump).

Breakout chef Skenes (Mountain View's Chez TJ) and sommelier Mark Bright of Restaurant Michael Mina opened the place in July, sharing a kitchen with the Stable Cafe, a popular neighborhood hangout facing Folsom Street. Saison, located in the old carriage house, is tucked out back, down a sapling-lined gravel walkway. The tree-shaded patio at the end of the walkway is where you wait, bubbly at hand, for the meal to commence; you can then stroll through the adjacent kitchen and check out all the slicing, grating, prepping, and plating.

The dining room retains much of the building's Day in the Country charm, complete with beamed, slanted ceiling and rustic local landscapes by the Mission's own Matthew Frederick. A communal table for eight is circled by five smaller planked-wood tables sans vases or tablecloths; the overall effect is of a little French farmhouse with trout and mushrooms from the surrounding countryside and a Michelin star in the window.

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