San Francisco, USA
April 10, 2018
Benu was the eighteenth but really the first restaurant on this quest. It was ranked 47th in 2019. It’s also a Michelin 3-star restaurant.
When you’re playing your own game, you can make your own rules. What happens when a restaurant makes it onto the list after you’ve been to the restaurant in a previous year? What are the chances of that happening? Turns out, high enough.
Last year, a couple months before the embarking on the journey of visiting the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Kitt and I went on a mini-quest: go to all the Michelin 3-star restaurants in San Francisco.
At the time, this included Benu, Saison, Coi, and Quince. Amazingly, I managed reservations at all four. Benu was first.
Being first meant that everything would be compared to this one. There was some cod, and sea urchin, and some glazed quail. A surprising amount of overlap with the menu at Saison. I’m unsure if that’s a side effect of being only a few short blocks from each other.
The meal was wonderful. Although, recalling the experience over a year later, I don’t recall much of the meal standing out from the rest.
On the other hand, the beverage pairings, as they call it, did stand out. They broke away from doing a standard wine pairing and, instead, tried to pair different alcoholic beverages with the food including beer and sake. One in particular that has become a new favourite of mine is the Rodenbach Grand Cru. It’s sweet with just a hint of sour (and surprisingly available at my local liquor store).
I regret my decision to refrain from taking pictures when visiting the first few restaurants on this adventure. It seemed so uncouth. I’ve since thrown my pretenses out the window.