Word of Mouth: Benu (San Francisco)

March 16th, 2011 by Vanilla Ice



We’re actually getting kinda sick of new restaurants; it’s a bit tedious pointing out the same types of flaws over and over and over again and ultimately being disappointed more often than impressed. (Here’s a novel idea: why don’t you try working to improve the shitty restaurant you already have, rather than opening a new one every nine months, you greedy egomaniacal bastard?) But hey, maybe that’s just us.
Anyhoo! It’s so nice to see you! We hadn’t planned on visiting your place, probably like— ever— but the "word of mouth" on this joint has been pretty outstanding. So, ya know— we’re intrigued. We’re hoping that good "word of mouth" is all genuine, and we can get us some of that good in our mouth. Word.
What’s that? You’d love to take advantage of all our vast experience, knowledge, insight, and expertise as long as we’re already here? Because you’re hoping we’ll like it and help spread the news, since you fired your publicist long ago for not doing jack shit for you?
Of course, we’d be honored. Oh ha, yesss, we’ll be honest— brutally honest even, ha ha! After all, that’s what obnoxious opinionated food-bloggers are for!
No no please, don’t send anything more, we’re stuffed, we can’t breathe, you’ll have to roll us out of here, ha ha ha… !


Benu (San Francisco)

What exactly made you choose our restaurant?
Truth be told, French Laundry was actually our first choice for this trip, but evidently eight people is considered "private dining," and such reservations are booked up to a year in advance. Benu was considered an excellent second choice due to its outstanding pedigree. (Too bad two people canceled and we ended up being a party of only six anyway. Oh well.)

What was your first impression?
Huh. It’s… kinda… plain?

Please rate the Bar:
Uh, N/A? If there’s a bar, I didn’t see one.

Please rate the drinks/ cocktails/ wine:
For a sixteen course chef’s tasting we opted for wine all the way, so I have no idea if they even offer the hard stuff at all (somehow, I doubt it). All four bottles were the sommelier’s choice, and they were quite excellent, especially since each one was only in the $80 to $130 per bottle range. Very impressive.

Please rate the Dining Room:
Honestly, it’s rather a wee blah. But maybe this is a San Franciscan or Californian haute-dining thing— the food is the point, you see— or something (what the hells do I know); it’s a pretty prevalent phenomenom really.
It’s not quite how I (or most New Yorkers for that matter) would’ve done it, is alls I’m sayin.


Please rate the BOH:
Stellar. Didn’t really expect anything less though, frankly.

How was the staff?
With this background and at $160 per head, overall the FOH is not quite as good as you’d anticipate. Trying a bit too hard to be casual, perhaps? Just a tad hasty, and much more assertive and obtrusive than they should have been.


What did you eat?/ How was the food?
Chef’s tasting, 16 courses. Sorry, if you expect me to name them all, you must think I really need a life or something : Exceptional. Undoubtedly one of the finest dining experiences I’ve ever had. Standouts include the thousand year old quail egg, the shark fin soup, the grilled eel cigarette-shaped thing, the foie gras, and the odd "caviar, bone marrow, lobster" concoction that was nothing like what you might expect. Less breathtaking was the braised beef, unfortunately the last savory course.
By and large however, quite superlative.

What did you like?
The creativity in (and execution of) the food was unquestionably exemplary.

What did you dislike?
Nothing other than what I’ve already mentioned.

What was your last impression?
Definitely worth trying, and even better with a larger group.


Would you come back?
Ehhh, it’s not the sort of experience I’d generally consider a habit. But as part of a travel experience…

Thank you, and hope to see you soon!
Thank you, it was lovely.




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