Sons & Daughters
708 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108
Dining date: 11/24/12
Sons & Daughters is a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try for some time. Since I spend a limited amount of time in San Francisco nowadays, it’s always been on my list of places to try but never high enough to the point where I’ve actually gone. Until now.
The restaurant opened up in the middle of 2010 and has garnered quite a few accolades in the ensuing couple of years. Some of the most notable have been its one Michelin star, a 3-star review from the S.F. Chronicle’s Michael Bauer, and chefs Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara being named 2012 Rising Star Chefs.
A part of a trend in the S.F. fine dining world, Sons & Daughters has continually shrunk the dining room, added more courses, removed a la carte and gotten more expensive. I’m not particularly against that movement (and kind of wish more in LA attempted it), but the increases in price point need to reflect a higher standard of both food and service. Currently, it’s $135 service-inclusive for around 9 courses.
We arrived slightly early for our Saturday night reservation and our table was not yet available. The hostess surprised us with glasses of sparkling wine for our wait, an unexpected but welcome gesture.
buttermilk chicharron trout roe, finger lime
The meal began with an amuse bouche from the kitchen. I found the ‘chicharron’ to have a crispy but sort of stale crunch, and the lime’s tart flavor overpowered everything else.
hamachi salad burnet and caviar
The fatty piece of hamachi was a nice pairing with the salty caviar; a slightly smoky dashi broth underneath completed the savory bites.
At this point, our first piece of bread (a buckwheat toast) came out of the kitchen, hot and fresh.
roasted beets aromatic spices and fresh tarragon
Sweet beets were countered by a tart yogurt, while the curry-like flavor of the vadouvan provided more savory depth.
fennel seed soup garden roots and bitter leaves
I found the soup to be very creamy and subtly sweet; the bitter greens provided a nice balance to the sweetness. Crispy radishes and carrots provided a little bit of crunch.
A classic in San Francisco, sourdough was our next bread. Again, it came out nice and hot.
charred endive pasta bone marrow and preserved apple
I really liked the charred endive filling of the pasta. The pasta was cooked to a nice chewy al dente (with the exception of one rather gritty piece); sweet apples and rich bone marrow provided a really nice tandem which worked well with the pasta.
braised chanterelle black garlic and clover
I thought the chanterelles were pretty tasty though not particularly special. The crispy layered potato, kind of like a mille-feuille, was excellent with delicious buttery slices of the starch. The black garlic puree provided a very mild garlicky flavor.
Our last piece of bread was this pretzel bread, which was maybe my favorite of the trio.
squab marcona almond butter and citrus
The squab was pretty tasty on its own, cooked a nice medium, while the rich marcona almond butter provided a welcome nuttiness to the meat. I thought the citrus segments (grapefruit?) really helped to brighten everything up.
fresh chestnut pear and vanilla rum
Asian pear, a hibiscus gel, and chestnut ice cream formed an interesting mix of flavors. I can’t say I loved this, but it was unique.
dark chocolate flavors of young eucalyptus and anise hyssop
Lastly, we were served a chocolate dessert infused with a floral, woody flavor of eucalyptus. Anise ice cream was a nice complementary flavor to what I thought was a much more successful dessert.
tangerine pate de fruits
One last sweet completed our meal. I enjoyed the bright tangerine flavor packed in these jellies.
I thought our meal at Sons & Daughters was just okay. I wouldn’t say anything about the meal was impressive, and the food, while different, was altogether unmemorable. Service was excellent, but it wasn’t enough to redeem the overall experience. While the price point wasn’t outrageous, I was definitely expecting more from this meal.