Benu: San Francisco’s hottest new restaurant

by Carolyn Jung on September 28, 2010

Private Dining Room at Benu

Expectations are up in the stratosphere for San Francisco’s new Benu restaurant, which opened on August 10 to great fanfare.

Foodies salivated over every detail that emerged over the summer about this new restaurant from Chef Corey Lee, the esteemed former chef de cuisine at the French Laundry in Yountville.

Reservations for Lee’s first restaurant are going fast on OpenTable, with guests nabbing tables as far out as November.

But that’s not surprising, given Lee’s stature in the culinary world. The James Beard award-winning chef has built a restaurant where every detail has been meticulously considered — from the specially designed porcelain plates to the private wine lockers to the first-of-its-kind Viking cooking suite in the kitchen.

Indeed, Lee’s architect, the award-winning Richard Bloch of New York, calls this the most customized restaurant he’s ever worked on. It’s also the first restaurant in which French Laundry’s chef and owner Thomas Keller has invested that is not one of his own.

The space — located near the W Hotel, and formerly home to the sister restaurants Hawthorne Lane and Two — has been gutted and utterly transformed.

The food is modern with Asian sensibilities. The opening tasting menu ($120) includes dishes such as lobster curry with fragrant rice, grapes, almonds and cilantro; and monkfish liver torchon with apple relish, brioche and ramps. An a la carte menu ($12 to $30) is also available, featuring snapping turtle veloute with langostine; Berkshire pork loin with smoked belly, black soy beans, sauteed lettuce and clam sauce; and in the dessert category, douglas fir meringue with blackberries, candy cap sable and cream.

– Carolyn Jung of FoodGal

[Photo courtesy of Justin Lewis]

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