Fleur de Lys, San Francisco (April 2009)

I figure the two or three people who actually read these commentaries must be scratching their heads at this point. Another meal at Fleur de Lys, you ask? Indeed. The friendly hello from the sommelier, and the “Welcome back” from the servers makes one feel right at home.

As for preparation, I learned from my previous meal, in which I could not finish the petite fours or the madeleines. I chalked up the failure to eating a large lunch the day before the dinner. This time, however, I mended my past errors, eating only a plate of wilted kale and caramelized onions the day before, which meant I would have to contend with inanition during a research meeting this afternoon. The discomfort proved worthwhile.

Along with the butter comes a pile of smoked sea salt. The seasoning was spot-on, though, so not once did I need to reach for that most majestic of minerals.

This amuse featured clean flavors, and the chilled temperature left the palate with a silky finish. 

Fava bean purée with parmesan and lemongrass Vichyssoise
Mustard seeds overwhelmed the endive. I am just glad that I ate the micro-casserole first, so that I could end with the cucumber, crème fraîche, and caviar. 

Poppyseed-onion brioche, bloody mary shooter, and braised endive casserole
Poaching the egg in the shape of a sweetbread was brilliant. In addition, pan-searing the sweetbreads lent a light crust, in contrast to the creamy interior. The morels partially cut through the veal jus’ richness, but, hey, veal jus’ richness is what makes it so great. 
Veal sweetbreads, poached egg, morels, and veal jus
Some might think my animadversion against this dish is nitpicky, but here it is: it gilded the lily. There was no need for so much black truffle. Well-cooked vegetables are delicious as is. Everything was tender – what needed to be al dente was al dente. Mutatis mutandis, this could have been my favorite dish because the artichokes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, soy beans, asparagus, and carrots were so tasty. Add the xanthous vitellus oozing onto the vegetables, and you have a dish that could proselytize a wowser. 

Vegetable ragout and a poached egg

The wolf of the sea lived up to its name. The potatoes and artichokes tasted good, but the sea bass remained the main attraction. 

Loup de mer, olive jus, olive oil potatoes, and fried artichokes
The pleasure this plate brought me defies punctuation. Something about eating game gives me primordial jouissance. Black truffle reared its earthy head again, engulfing the bok choy. I ate so much black truffle tonight that getting tested for fungal parasites crossed my mind. 

Venison chop, truffled bok choy, cherry tomatoes, and carrot purée

Maple ice cream and a fruit gelée
Dessert selections included soufflés, cheesecake, assorted chocolate-centric dishes, but I wanted something a bit savory. 

Squash and ginger meringue pie, cranberry sorbet, frozen grape, and a chocolate truffle

Petite fours
As I dug into the madeleines, the General Manager and sommelier stopped by my table to discuss the San Francisco dining scene, and we ended up comparing our experiences, before it was finally time for me to go. 


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