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Fleur de Lys

Beautiful French cuisine with a California twist

Nob Hill District, San Francisco, California
Cuisine Style: French, Californian, Mediterranean
By: Sean Overpeck (CFE)



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ARTICLE UPDATE

Unfortunately Fleur de Lys as of 2015 is now permanently closed, but there are many other Hubert Keller restaurants open to enjoy, so you can use this review as a base for what to expect at his others

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The Fleur de Lys is a symbol of French Nobility. Most Americans think of the New Orleans Saints football team when they see the symbol of the Fleur de Lys. Honestly, it looked like a cool symbol, but had no idea what the hell it meant. The symbol takes me back to when I visited the Loire Valley in France back in 2010, and took several days to tour the countryside, vineyards, and most impressively the château’s such as Chinon, Chenonceau, Pierrefonds, and Chambord. In each of these fantastic château’s the symbol of the old French Monarchy was present, which is of course before Louise and his wife messed that all up, and destroyed the French Monarchy. Rather teaches a harsh lesson, marry a spoiled Austrian Princess, and then when the people are starving, she said, “let them eat cake!” Bam, bad idea honey, off with her head and his. With their heads went the Fleur de Lys, until Chef Hubert Keller brought back a truer symbol to San Francisco then just the old monarchy or a football team, but fantastic food representative of the many regions of France, and blended a twist of California and bay area cuisine in with it. As a result, you have one of the best restaurants in San Francisco…The Fleur de Lys.












Main review:
Hubert Keller is known best for his world-renowned restaurants, Fleur de Lys (San Francisco). In 1986, Chef Keller partnered with his wife and Maurice Rouas to become the chef/owner of Fleur de Lys. Dining beneath the colorful canopy of custom fabric designed by Chantal Keller is a dramatic and delicious experience and serves to heighten the experience of Keller’s dazzling food and genuine, personal charm. A truly original cuisine featuring contemporary French cooking with Mediterranean accents has emerged from Keller’s rich and varied career. He observes classic French principles and maintains a California-style commitment to health while incorporating the culinary traditions of Alsace, Brazil, and San Francisco. .



Keller is internationally known for his innovation and creativity and has long been considered a “chef’s chef.” His restaurants are frequent gathering spots for local chefs and for chefs from around the globe. Keller is also known for his generosity and support for a wide range of educational, charitable, and community events around the country including PBS, Make a Wish Foundation, Taste of the Nation, and Share Our Strength.

It was now day two in San Francisco. From the tourist stand point it was wonderful. The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, and so on, but for the food scene my friend and I had struck out on what we thought would be good places to eat. For example the night before, we ate at Alioto’s restaurant on the Fisherman’s Wharf, and boy oh boy was it a bad experience. Therefore, it was now the second night and striking gold like a 49er is the best way to describe the experience at Fleur De Lys. Instead of looking for a parking space somewhere, which I am sure we would have found by 2050, valet seemed to be the best option, and at a $13.00 charge, it was not that bad. I have eaten at restaurants in Atlanta where the basic fee starts at $25 to 30.00 for valet.   

Entering into the foyer, my buddy and I were taken to our seats after our opentable reservation was confirmed, and as I entered into the dining room, directly to the center was a beautiful flower display, and hanging from the ceiling were drapes, flowing down draped a few feet above the flower display, circling around a beautiful chandelier. The room was dimmed to enhance the ambiance, and set the tone for the meal and service to come. The service staff both Captain and Back server were very attentive and professional throughout the night, constantly refilling our drinks as they came to half way, (because I drink a lot of water when I’m drinking a lot of wine!) crumbing the table, folding napkins, and clearing at the exact times required. To start the evening, my friend preferred white wines, and had a selection of some German wines by the glass, while I had a bottle of the 2007 Domaine Mongeard-MugnereNuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Boudots, which had a tasty, mature, savory, mushroom, berry, mineral, and cranberry palate, with light tannins. The menu was like reading through an action novel, wanting to stop, but needing to turn to the next page. There was a wonderful selection of items infusing modern French cuisine with American, specifically Northern Californian. Being a Chef, as I do most of the time, I want the kitchen to surprise me, and bring out their tasting menu. I chose the five-course menu, while my friend stayed to choosing from the menu. She had not eaten traditional French food before, so she tried to go with what she recognized.

Entrance into dining room
Dining room
The Amuse course came while the Sommelier poured the wine. I had requested that it be decanted while we reviewed the menu. The amuse, served on a smaller plate, consisted of a pancetta and shaved carrot salad bite, served with a gazpacho. The taste was nice and crisp, perfect starter to match the August weather. The first of my five coursed menu came out, but since my friend had only ordered 3 courses. The dish was a Baekeoffe of Escargots and truffles, with a beautiful garlic-basil broth, topped with a brioche snail. My friend began to eat some of their homemade bread while my second course came out. This course was a chilled red beet borscht, consisting of Kobe beef cheek salad with smoked salmon, horseradish, and a spoon of crème Fraîche topped with caviar. I honestly had not eaten this good as far as French cuisine goes since 2010 when I ate at Le Gabriel restaurant in Bordeaux.

Amuse
Baekeoffe of Escargots and truffles
chilled red beet borscht
The next course saw the introduction of my friend’s selection to begin, which started with the appetizer of roasted Maine Lobster, served over a coconut milk infused with Thai red curry, topped with lemongrass, ginger, and toasted nori. I took a bite, and really like it. For me came a symphony…literally. The final appetizer course was a symphony of five items consisting of a toasted duck and mozzarella “slider”, a piquillo gazpacho, chilled asparagus tips with pancetta, French potato salad, and a Faux gras mousse. Unfortunately by California law (California S.B. 1520) which went into effect in 2012, forced feeding of birds is now forbidden, so the Faux gras could not be duck liver, and is more of a chicken mouse then Faux gras, thanks Arnold Schwarzenegger for signing that one into law.

ARTICLE UPDATE  This law as of 2015 has been overturned thanks to chef's and restauranteurs who are tired of the Government telling them what they can and can not do with their bodies.

Chicago tried this same law a few years ago, and it was repealed soon after, just like it has been now in California. Prior to the law being overturned chefs in California Restaurants could have receive a $1000.00 fine for serving the real deal. Well, now that my rant is over, yes the dish was fantastic, even the fake Faux gras.
 
Roasted Maine Lobster
The symphony

The next course came as a series of two for me, while my friend had the main entrée course. My friend ordered the Seared Filet Mignon accented in red wine, shallots, and a thyme bordelaise sauce, served with a lobster truffled macaroni and cheese baked in a brioche bowl. My first dish was a rye crusted Scottish Salmon, served over pickled mustard seed, topped with a caraway jus, and served with sliced radish and cabbage three ways. The fish was very tender and light, unlike fresh water farm raised salmon that has a strong fish odor to it. The mustard offset the flavors of the fish while enjoying the cabbage. My friend’s fillet was tender and cooked to a perfect medium-rare, and the sauce blew it away. For my second entrée course, which arrived a few minutes after my friend’s fillet hit the table, was a Kobe beef cheeks entrée topped with mustard and baked cornichons lying on a bed of smoked veal jus. To the side in a small dish came the sweetbread fricassee mixed with truffles and spinach, god I was heaven.

Scottish Salmon
Filet Mignon with lobster truffled mac and cheese
Kobe beef cheeks
The final course for me, my friend and I shared over a glass of Port and a sweet Sauternes, and that was the all classical cheese platter. It came with five cheeses, some soft and light, while others were strong enough to kill a horse, damn I love French cheese. The plate came with a side bowl of mixed nuts and raisins.

Cheese plate
After a break and some coffee, we went crazy, and my friend ordered dessert. Even though my massive tasting menu was complete, I wanted to see what this pastry chef could do, so we both ordered. We had the chocolate soufflé, served with a cherry and Kirsch ice cream. . For me, I went with the servers’ recommendation and had the Fleurburger dessert, which was a slider of spiced dark chocolate Ganache, served with a Beignet Banana milk shake, and frozen fennel ice cream Pommes Frites.
Fleurburger dessert
It was the perfect ending to a wonderful evening, but just when I thought it was going to end, Chef Hubert Keller came from the kitchen to talk with us. Normally besides the quick table meet and greets that chef’s do, when he heard that I was also a chef and working in Afghanistan, he sat down with us and talk for a while, presented a book where the Fleur de Lys restaurant was listed, and signed it, along with a copy of the menu. That to me was an extra special touch that he did not have to do, but chose to do, building loyalty, and a return of clients. When I return to San Francisco, Fleur de Lys will be on my list of places to go. Who knows, maybe I will be able to get back in the kitchen for a short time and have some fun, as long as the health department doesn’t find out of course that a customer was cooking alongside the Chef de Cuisine. When the check arrived, a small plate of dessert petit fours accompanied them to finish off the night, consisting of chocolate, and tartlets. I was unable to eat all of it because I was so full, but I did nibble to try it. To me Fleur de Lys was the best restaurant I visited while in San Francisco. There was one other good one, but not in the same caliber as here, and whatever you do, avoid the first restaurant we went to on Fisherman’s Wharf that I talked about earlier called Alioto’s. It was horrid. Click on it to read the review, and then book your reservations at Fleur de Lys. Thank you for a wonderful evening Chef Keller.

Petit fours

Other Noteworthy French & Californian Favorites:
Wolfgang Puck in Orlando, Florida
Harvest Moon Cafe in Sonoma, California
FarmTable Kitchen in St. Petersburg, Florida
Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant in Calistoga, California
French:
Bistrot La Minette in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin, Ireland 
L’Ecrivain in Dublin, Ireland
The Brasserie at the Café de Paris in Monte-Carlo, Monaco
La Cote Basque Winehouse in Gulfport, Florida
HobNob Restaurant The Charles Hotel, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada
BLT Steak Restaurants in 12 world cities, review based in Atlanta, Georgia (2007-2016)
Le Grand Chancelier, in Cheverny, Loire Valley, France

Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B) in Charleston, South Carolina






Restaurant address: 
777 Sutter Street                               
San Francisco, California

94109

Neighborhood:
Nob Hill

Cross streets:
Jones & Taylor

Contact:
Tel:                  +1 415 673-7779
Website:           Fleur de Lys
                              HubertKeller
Email:             Contact Fleur de Lys


Hours:
Dinner only:
Tue-Thu 6 pm - 9:30 pm

Fri 5:30 pm - 10:30 pm

Sat 5 pm - 10:30 pm

Sun & Mon –Closed
Pacific Standard Time

Proprietor / Manager:
Hubert & Chantal Keller
Sommelier:
Marcus Garcia
Chef de Cuisine:
Rick Richardson                                                           
Pastry Chef:
Gilberto Villarreal









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The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list based on who is writing about them, and it changes on a regular basis. My list of best reviewed restaurants here on Wine, Dine, and Play is based on a rating number at 4 or 5 stars. From the 350 + published reviews as of summer 2017, less than 15% hold these prestigious rankings, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. I have dined at restaurants on five continents from cafés, chains, and fine dining spots including a few that are rated on the Michelin one to three scale. Below is a sampling of some from my list, which include mom and pops + holes in the wall. These places can be just as good, or if not better than a top ranked restaurant of the world in my opinion. To visit my full list of best places follow this link:


A few to tease you with…

Rustic New American Fare
Saint Petersburg, Florida USA
Elegant Molecular Australian Dining
Melbourne, Australia
Modern Eclectic African Cuisine
Woodstock, South Africa
High Rise Fine Global Dining, Highest Restaurant In The World
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Haute French Cuisine
Paris, France
American-Global Molecular Menu  
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Impeccably Acclaimed French Cuisine 
Dublin, Ireland
Inspired Farm-to-Table Dining
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Upscale Creole Fare
New Orlean’s, Louisiana, USA
French-American Fine Dining
Yountville, Napa, California, USA
Safari + Upscale African Cuisine
Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
Hip Asian-Fusion
Dubai, UAE
Armani / Amal
Fine Indian & Pakistani Cuisine, at the Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Contemporary, African-Inspired Tasting Journey
Franschhoek, South Africa
Eclectic French-Asian Tasting Menu
Sydney, Australia
Ornate Top 10 American Chophouse 
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Posh French + Culinary Experimentalism
Festival City, Dubai, UAE
Classic French Gastronomique
Bordeaux, France


So many great wines in this world, here are a few boutiques, cult wines, and favorites:


A 1756 Estate Famed Rubicon Blend
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Big, Bold, Cult Cabernets 
Oakville, California, USA
Boutique Producers of Pinot Noir
Willamette, Oregon
Agincourt, Waterloo, Salamanca
Yarra Valley, Australia
A Cru Bourgeois Supérieur
Cussac-Fort-Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Not Kehlsteinhaus, Exceptional Shiraz
Constantia, South Africa
Screaming Eagles Sister
Santa Barbara, California, USA
World Class Oregon Pinot Noir
Willamette, Oregon
20+ Blue Ridge Handcrafted Wines
Asheville, North Carolina, USA
Domaine Bertagna
13th Century Cistercian -1er Cru Les Cras
Vougeot, Burgundy, France



Reviewed by:
Sean Overpeck (CFE)
Executive Chef
Father, Husband, Wine Drinker
Restaurant nut, History and 
Star Trek lover



Picture below was taken in Colorado in 2013










About Sean:

I am based out of Florida working in food service for over twenty years, and am currently with the American Embassy as the Executive Chef. Formally I have worked with groups contracting in Afghanistan, and Antarctica, also working in restaurants in and around Atlanta, Georgia prior to the wars. I have also owned a catering company and served proudly in the United States Army Food Service Program. The idea for Wine, Dine, and Play started in late 2012 after a trip to Jordan, when I was asked by friends to write down my experiences from a few restaurants, wines I tasted, and unique locations such as Petra. Since that time, I have written over 300 articles, including fifteen from the worlds top 100 lists of San Pellegrino and the Elite Travelers Guide restaurants. I have articles on exotic world locations such as Victoria Falls, and South African Safari’s; food recipes & a Grand Food Dictionary; ethnic country cuisines such as Afghan, and Peruvian; tasting tours of world cities like Charleston, Cape Town, and Dubai; and of course wine from vineyards in California, Oregon, the Carolina’s, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, with much more to see and write.

Who is John Galt?




“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)






Other articles of interest on Wine, Dine, and Play:

Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai, South Africa
Afghan Cuisine and its History A tasting from Herat to Kabul
The Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai, UAE
Peruvian Cuisine Andes, Amazon, and Lima
Fugitives Drift Lodge and the Zulu Battlefields in Kwa-Zulu-Natal, South Africa 
Red Hills Market in Willamette, Oregon
Netflix Movie Codes search for your favorites
Tipping in Restaurants  etiquette, customs, cultures, and assumptions 
(Articles coming soon) 
Petra, Jordan
A Taste of Dubai 
A Taste of South Africa (multiple volumes)
Wine, Dine, And Play’s “best of”
FOB Shank - Cooking with Incoming





TTFN





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