There’s no doubt that San Francisco has more than its fair share of good dining, and fine dining is in no short supply either. With folks wanting to invest their hard-earned dollars in ‘experiences‘, and ticketed dining becoming just as much theater as watching a play, it’s no surprise that restaurants like Sons & Daughters do well here. With a set menu of seven courses for $115, this is certainly a place reserved for a special occasion, unless you are one of the many local tech millionaires, in which case you may just drop in when you’re hungry.
Many of the raw ingredients come from the restaurant’s own farm, Dark Hill Farm, which is located in the Santa Cruz mountains and started initially as a kitchen garden until demand outstripped supply. While they don’t raise their own meat, expect to enjoy everything from greens to fruits, eggs to foraged mountain fare, in their dishes. A handy, leather-bound booklet on the table, includes extra detail about the food you’re eating and shows you pictures of it growing on the fan. If you have a Portlandia-style obsession with knowing where your food comes from, you will be happy here.
Our menu for the evening went something like this, with the first item listed being the “hero” and the subsequent ingredients being the “supporting cast” (absolutely vital, but not the star of the show):
Borage Artichoke and green almond (pictured above)
Trout Fiddlehead fern and sesame
Carrot Pistachio and green garlic
Amerucana Egg English pea and yellowfoot
Lamb Asparagus and green peppercorn
Strawberry Chrysanthemum and lemon verbena
Chocolate Hazelnut and Caramel
I had alerted the restaurant in advance that I preferred to avoid gluten and dairy, so there were a few modifications to what they served me. (For instance, my companions didn’t get the chocolate at the end of their meal, but a caramely cheesy concoction, which they soon polished off.)
There are three types of bread and butter served throughout. The butter is insanely good, as was the bread (yes, I had to cave in and have a bite, after all how would I get the butter to my mouth otherwise?).
For the most part, everything was impeccable and there was a twist or delightful surprise in each dish, which is what made the price worth it. For instance, green apricots (unripened) served with the trout, had us all guessing what they were (olives?), reaching for our menus and asking the waitress to enlighten us. Likewise the combination of salty cheese and caramel for dessert, is a genius move. My dad has always sworn by the combination of black pepper with strawberries, and flanking the strawberry sorbet with peppery arugula is along the same lines.
Our one shared complaint was that the veal broth accompanying the egg dish was insanely salty. There’s a reduction, and then there’s reducing a sauce down to bare minerals. The after-burn on our tongues lasted too long and somewhat took away our ability to enjoy the next dish.
Aside from that, this was a highly enjoyable experience in a cool spot. The heavy, dark grey linen table cloth grounds the whole meal and as you’d expect, the people watching is fun. (Lots of older men with younger women, but all of them super hip, naturally.)
The wine pairing, at $79, bumps up the price quite a bit, so consider ordering a bottle, or by the glass.
Michelin mysteriously describes Sons & Daughters as “A very good restaurant of its type” – I am not quite sure what that type is, but it’s worth checking out should you have something to celebrate.
Sons & Daughters is at 708 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94108
Tel: (415) 391-8311