A dozen family members from California to Minnesota convened Saturday night at the world-famous Fleur de Lys to celebrate a milestone birthday for our Mother — a San Francisco native. We’d dined there 15 years ago for another of my Mother’s big days, but this time, the French cuisine, the wait staff, the ambience, the secluded setting, and even the personal visit from famed Chef Hubert Keller created an evening that was “tres fantastique!” After all, he’s a member of the James Beard Foundation and has been a Food & Wine Magazine Chef of the Year.
Chef Keller had recommended a menu of superb small plates months ago when we first reserved the room. We made a few adjustments and sat down in Fleur’s private wine vault for a most memorable meal — one of the top five in my lifetime of dining globally at Mobil Travel Winners. And the highlight of the evening, besides the haut cuisine, was Chef Keller sitting for a few moments at our table to welcome my Mother, who told him she’d seen his TV program that day on KQED-TV (PBS, San Francisco). (See photo below of Pearl and Hubert.)
We began by being pleasantly surprised with a few small plates to whet our collective appetites and set the stage for what was to come. They were not on our menu but each morsel was superb.
These were followed by a symphony of five tastes on each of our platters. For these, our attentive waitstaff instructed us to eat them clockwise, starting with the Smoked Salmon Tartar at six o’clock, followed the Tartine of Duck Breast at nine o’clock, the Roasted Rabbit at twelve o’clock, then the Potato Salad Lyonnaise at three o’clock, and finally, the Chilled Cream of Salsify in the middle.
Overall, we were amazed at the precision of the service, with each dish arriving to our private room within a minute for all 12 of us.
Next was a savory Brioche Crusted Scottish Salmon with Green and Red Cabbage, served over Sweet and Sour Pumpkin Seed Jus.
For the entree of our four-course banquet, we had the choice of Colorado Lamb Loin and Lamb Cheek Sausage with a “Tarbais” Bean Cassolet, Whole Grain Mustard and Tarragon Sauce
Halibut in Potato and Black Pepper “Chapelure” with Rhubarb Coulis and Corn Fondue with Truffle Sauce
Peppered Filet Mignon on Braised Endives, accented with Roasted Pears and Pecans.
Each was both superbly prepared, cooked, and devoured with relish.
We finished with a Blond Caramel “Vacherin” presented with a White Chocolate and Vanilla Mousse Cone and Carmelized Banana Cake. This was accompanied by assortment of miniature pastries, chocolates and jellied candies.
Browsing through our private room — the restaurant’s Wine Vault — between courses, we were awed by the selections, including a 1945 CHÂTEAU LAFITE ROTHSCHILD They’re just part of the award-winning wine list of over 600 labels.
Bottom Line: For a memorable meal that you’ll rave about for years to come, make your reservations now at Fleur de Lys, a San Francisco landmark for French cuisine at its finest.