San Francisco, USA

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.

Before this was Hof van Cleve
After this was Atelier Crenn
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