San Francisco has such fantastic fine dining that we couldn't leave without sampling something special, even with our shorter-than-24-hour-long trip.
And, as Mr. Monkey exclaimed, "It's almost your birthday!" Indeed.
We went to Masa's.
Amuse bouche of chilled pea soup and a Gruyère cheese puff. I liked the puff more than the soup. I've decided I'm not a pea person.
Focaccia and brioche.
Our nine-course dégustation featured dishes for the gentleman and dishes for the lady. In Monkey terms, this meant tasting 18 different things!
California white sturgeon caviar with Yukon gold potato blinis, Kendall Farms crème fraîche, and baby greens.
What a way to start! The warm fluffiness of the blinis paired wonderfully with the cool creaminess and bursting little bubbles. A true party in your mouth.
Black River Farms Siberia osetra with with mustard rabe panna cotta and Sierra Beauty apple glaze.
Pop, pop, pop go the caviar in your mouth. But really I wanted more blinis.
I liked the pretty iridescent caviar spoons.
Garden radish salad with icicle, flambeau, and Easter egg radishes, red wine vinegar crème fraîche, and German radish top puree.
Hearts of palm salad with young coconut, baby cilantro, coconut jelly, Medjool date vinaigrette, and black sesame.
While cool and refreshing, we agreed that this was the one throwaway course of the night. Well-executed and beautiful, but really just rabbit food filler.
Pan-seared Sea of Cortez diver scallop with wilted fava bean leaves, Gilfeather turnips, and applewood smoked bacon foam.
Now we're talking. Golden and perfect. Big. Tender. The foam gave a great smokiness that didn't overpower. The fava bean leaves rocked.
Sweet butter-poached Maine lobster with Yukon potato terrine, pickled red pearl onions, and herbed crème fraîche.
Yummers nummers. Really good quality lobster.
Australian Hiramasa shabu shabu with Maitake mushrooms, kanzuri oil, dashi broth, and daikon radish sprouts.
An homage to OutKast -- so fresh, so clean. This yellowtail was like buttah.
Extra virgin olive oil poached filet of halibut with broccoli romanesco, golden raisins, Spanish capers, vadouvan curry emulsion.
The simplicity of this dish impressed me. Fish done right. Oh so right.
Pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras with melted spring onion, fig-coffee-chocolate sauce, and baby celery.
Oh. Em. Eff. Gee. To die for. Super rich. Exceedingly decadent. Basically the opposite of the preceding fish course. I wanted to eat 20 of these.
Chilled Hudson Valley foie gras au torchon with pickled fennel bulb, anise seed shortbread, warm hibiscus tea, and petite licorice.
Not as mind-blowing as its partner, but, as a jamaica lover, how could I not like this? The foie gras was on a cookie floating in a pool of jamaica! Fun!
Sauteed breast of Paine Farms squab with Périgord truffles, English peas, Peruvian potatoes, and squab jus.
I dig tiny fowl. So small and tender and cute. I love you, little squab.
Rillette de phaison -- a ragoût of fava beans and Périgord truffles, sunchoke puree, and squab jus.
Anything in rillette form is almost guaranteed to be tasty. A pheasant rillette? Swooooon. Toasty on the outside and so juicy and shreddy and salty and yummy on the inside.
Roasted ribeye and crispy rillette of Elysian Fields Farm lamb, panisse cake, black trumpet mushrooms, tempura-fried squash blossom, and lamb jus.
Strong. Solid. And...more rillette! Me loves the rillette. Yes, I do. The panisse was pretty incredible, too.
Grilled calotte of prime beef ribeye, Belgian endive farcie aux l'ail printemps, black pearl barley, reggiano-parmesan aged sherry vinegar sauce.
A damn good piece of steak. That's all I've got.
Page Mandarin sorbet with ginger jus.
Grapefruit sorbet, basil ice, and mint gelée.
Ice, ice, baby. Too cold. Too cold. Word to your mother.
Fleur de sel caramel bon-bon, petit s'more, chocolate marquis, chocolate-apricot shortbread.
Mr. Monkey ate most of this chocolate overload. He seemed to like it. The few nibbles I had were tasty enough.
Cabernet-poached pear galette, Roquefort cheese foam, toasted walnut cream, Neapolitan ice cream sandwich.
Notwithstanding the birthday candle on the chocolate extravaganza, I demolished this latter dessert. My first bite of the galette puzzled me. I didn't know if I liked the strong bleu cheese taste. But my confusion subsided quickly as I inhaled the dish. Loved it.
This is Masa's version of choose-your-own adventure. You are presented with a cart with more sweets than you can shake a stick at. You pick what you like. You get it on a silver platter.
You leave very satisfied but not crazy bloated like Violet Beauregarde.
I think this may have been the first time we experienced a tasting menu that didn't make us feel like we needed to be wheeled out of the restaurant.
Mr. Monkey attributed this to Chef Short's confidence in his food -- it's so good that you will be thrilled with your meal, even with the seemingly small but truly perfect portions. I felt great even as I gorged on my last macaron.
A dinner well done, Masa's!