Tuesday, 5 November 2013

4 Michelin Stars in 3 Days in San Francisco- A Locavore-Centric Evening at Sons and Daughters

708 Bush St  
San Francisco, CA 94108
+1 415-391-8311

Tastiness Factor: 9/10

Atmosphere: 4.75/5

Service: 5/5

Locavore Approved? YES- Any restaurant that supplies many of their ingredients from their own garden certainly deserves the locavore stamp of approval!  The garden, located in nearby Los Gatos, contains greenhouses, boxes and an orchard on an acre of property.  The menu changes almost nightly and is built around what is available in the garden.  The staff are all obviously connected to the farm - the maitre d' was able to give me a tour of the farm at tableside, describing the complete layout and what grew where.  These guys are the real locavore deal!

I am sorry to say that Sons and Daughters was not initially on my restaurant radar in San Francisco like our other restaurant picks were (see here for my review of Atelier Crenn and here for Aziza).  It was not until a work colleague recommended it just a week before my trip that I looked up the website. I was immediately intrigued by the opening line on their website:

"Sons & Daughters is influenced by the seasons, unique elements of their garden, and the surrounding bay area. The approach to the food is thoughtful, delicate, and displays clarity of ingredients."

How could I not pay them a visit?  I quickly went to their reservation page with crossed fingers in the hopes that there would still be tables available and fortunately, I was in luck!  And here started the beginnings of our journey with this under-hyped, locally-devoted restaurant. 

Sons and Daughters is located in the heart of downtown and was located a convenient 10 minute walk from our hotel.  The classy yet simple exterior, with its big window and handsome black awning are a fitting representation for the dining experience.  The inside decor is what some might perceive as "old-fashioned" but I found it very charming and sophisticated.  We were told that the restaurant had existed as another dining establishment under a different owner for many years and that the name "Sons and Daughters" was meant to represent their role as a "second generation" for the space.  

Service was all about attention to detail, minus the pretention.  When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the Maitre D' who introduced himself and offered to answer any questions that came up during the evening about food, wine or the restaurant in general, and he periodically came to check on us throughout the meal.  Our server was extremely kind with a great sense of humour, and he was very knowledgeable about the origin of the ingredients and the flavour profiles of the dishes.  We loved how our names were printed at the top of our menus, making for a great keepsake.  With such personalized service, we were made to feel as though we were the only guests in the restaurant.

Sons and Daughters offers a multi-course tasting menu as their only dining option.  Dishes are tweaked on a daily basis depending on what is available in their garden.  Wine pairings are also available and I would highly recommend them as the price (68$) are quite reasonable for the variety and quality of beverages.  

Here is the run-down of our dishes:

Bread courses- Before I go into the actual dinner progression, I must mention the bread which came out in between courses.  The breads were made in-house and served warm with butter.   They were all delicious, but Hubby would be upset if I did not make special mention of the pretzel bun (middle).  Hubby raved about it so much during the meal that our server kindly brought us two to go at the end of the meal.  And they were gone by the time we got back to the hotel!

Trout caviar on crispy rice crisp (amuse-bouche)- As our server pointed out, this bite started the trend of crispiness as part of every course.  It was light and flavourful with a hint of decadence from the caviar.   To wash it down was a glass of Californian sparkling wine.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Smoked Bread and Nasturtium- This soup was the perfect dish over which to reminisce over our wonderful summer as we enjoyed the sweet flavour of tomatoes.  And it really was all about the tomato- no cream, no butter, no stock, just tomato!  The flavours were further accentuated by tangy nasturtium and crispy, smokey breadcrumbs.  What a way to start this garden-inspired meal!

Roasted baby beets with Vadouvan Spices and Fresh Herbs- Being the beet fanatic that I am, this was my favourite dish of the evening.  This was both delicious and creative, with the addition of yogurt thinned with cucumber juice and whole mustard seeds plumped with raspberry vinaigrette.  Stunning.

Garden Carrot with Black Radish and Celery Root- I loved how this dish almost looked the veggies were still growing out of the earth.  The vegetables were grilled with a nice char on the outside that brought out their natural sweetness.  The "wine" pairing for this dish was not actually wine at all- it was actually beer!  Although I am by no means a lover of beer, I had to admit that it paired wonderfully with the dish.

Scallop with Salsify and Ground Cherries- These perfectly seared scallops were topped with ground cherries which, as our knowledgeable server informed us, are a member of the tamale family.  Salsify, a root vegetable, was also new to us and added a nice crunch.

Black Cod with Baby Fennel and Parsley Root- The folks at Sons and Daughters were kind enough to honour my request for a pescatarian menu, and I was ecstatic to find black cod as my substitution for the duck (my very favourite fish!).  It was perfectly cooked with delightfully crispy skin and the baby fennel (milder than the adult variety) was a great accompaniment.

Grimaud Farm Duck with Black Mission Figs and Caraway- Hubby really enjoyed this dish, and especially like the sweetness of the fig with the duck.

Garden Grape with Lemon and Hyssop- This was a very unique palate cleanser before dessert and a nice change from the usual sorbet!  And isn't that purple hue pretty?

Geranium Ice Cream, White Chocolate and Blueberry- Yes, the ice cream is made out of actual geranium plants!  It was served alongside a white chocolate custard atop a graham cracker crust.  It was the perfect end to our farm-centric dining experience!

And when we thought it was all over, there was one final treat for our way out the door!

And so ended our wonderful evening at Sons and Daughters.  There are few restaurants where I have felt so welcome, almost like a member of the family.  The way that the servers make themselves available to guests is unique and special.  Combine this warm hospitality with the most local of ingredients and a chef who knows how to respect them, and you are arrive at the perfect result that is Sons and Daughters.

Sons & Daughters on Urbanspoon

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