Fleur de Lys, San Francisco

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite a while, but for some reasons, never got really inspired. For her 30th birthday, I took my wife to Fleur de Lys, in San Francisco, on Sutter Street. I’ve heard so much about this place since i’ve landed in the city that I always wanted to try it. But my (bad) experience at la Folie, which received the same treatment as Fleur de Lys in terms of reviews, discouraged me for a long time to do it. Yet, i thought this is a place I must try.

Once I decided on Fleur de Lys (honestly, hungry french man must eat there at least once!), i went online to check things out. The reviews were quite good (as they usually are), and i got very intrigued by the chef, Hubert Keller. Born in France, he moved to San Francisco in 1982, and since then, got many awards.

According to Wikipedia, in 1988 Hubert Keller was ranked as one of the “10 best new chefs in American” by Food and Wine Magazine. In 1997 he won the James Bead foundation award for best chef in California. Fleur de Lys in San Francisco has been ranked as one of the top 40 restaurants in the United States in 2004, 2005, and 2006 by Gayot restaurant guide, and was awarded one Michelin star in 2006. Fleur de Lys has also been ranked as one of the top 25 restaurants in the United States by Food & Wine magazine.

Quite impressive all this… But what about the food at Fleur de Lys?

Well, my overall comment would be the it lived up to the expectations, without blowing me away. The best dish i had was some beef cheeks, which I usually fear, but those were perfectly braised and served with a very nice sauce. This result in a very light dish, which complete perfectly the meal. To start, I had a roasted maine lobster, followed by some hawaiian prawns on fennel confit.

The lobster was all right – i actually only found one restaurant in my whole life that managed to impress me with lobster. That was a small place, in Ouistreham, in Normandy, that has made lobster with lentils and the combination of the two were just mind blowing. In this case, it was an ok dish, and it was served with a great artichoke puree. The prawns were actually quite good, and they go very well with the fennel!

The major fallback of Fleur de Lys is the service. They want to show you so much love that it becomes overwhelming. Leave me alone when i eat! I’m fine! Plus, there is clearly something wrong when they start to say things like “pardon my reach” thousands of times during a meal. Just walk behind me and you don’t need me to pardon your reach!. Finally, and that was the “coup de grace”, they opened a bottle of alsace white wine and served me a glass. The wine was corked. I called the guy, and tell him: dude, the wine is corked. He looked at me with weird eyes as if I just talked a different language. I asked him to try the wine to confirm. He denied, and walk away with the glass. He came back a few minutes later to tell me that i was absolutely right and that the wine was corked. So why the hell did they serve this to me? Rule #1 in a restaurant, you taste what you serve. If you open a bottle of wine, treat yourself with a small taste. Honestly!

So overall it was ok, with some clear flawns on the service. I wouldn’t say don’t go. That would be terribly unfair, as the decor and the food is good, but maybe you want to warn your waiter to give you some space and make sure the wine is good🙂

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