Benu, San Francisco
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 685 4860
Concierge.com's insider take:
Drawing on his time as chef du cuisine at Napa's famed French Laundry, chef Corey Lee showcases his culinary virtuosity in an elaborate 13-course tasting menu that masterfully blends Eastern and Western techniques. And big flavors come in delicate packages, such as a signature amuse-gueule that includes a flash-fried cigarette of eel wrapped in Moroccan feuille de brick (a nonbuttery filo) with a little spoonful of crème fraîche whipped with lime and salt for dipping. There's also an à la carte menu of dishes that intentionally run small—waiters call them appetizer-size—so diners may sample multiple flavor profiles. But it's not easy to create a cohesive culinary arc with three to four of them; better to opt for the tasting menu. Chef Lee places a premium on the sensory experience of the palate, but the dining room has an austere, almost too casual atmosphere. The chummy waiters, pop-rock soundtrack, and undraped blond-wood-edged tables (which look like high-end Ikea) simply don't match the caliber of the food.—John A. Vlahides
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 5:30 to 9:30 pm.