Wow! Partner and I celebrated our first Christmas in SF and decide Michael Mina would be a good way to start. It was outstanding.
As many of you are aware most dishes are presented as three separate preparations of the same primary ingredient. Add three small sides and each plate had six nuanced flavors around a single theme. Over three courses, this provides a wide range of flavors but still remains very focused. While it certainly compares to a long tasting menu its not as intense or diverse as being served 6-9 distinct courses.
The amuse was three morsels of lobster: crudo, butter poached, and lobster corn dog. You have cheer the creativity of a lobster corn dog, although the delicate meat had a hard time competing with the lightly fried corn batter. The other two options allowed the shellfish to feature more predomintly. To borrow from another writer, who doesn't like lobster on a stick?
My appetizer was langoustines with 3 ceviches. Three gorgeous fried tails each with different cerviche which included another healthy sized chunk of crustaceon in a highly flavored broth: one carrot ginger, another mango. Partner had the butter poach lobster. Both were excellent.
For entrees I had the skatewing. Again three portions each perfectly sauted in brown butter. I wish I could tell you each of the flavors but my memory fails me. I do remember a truffle and some caviar. Also served a John Dory with a crispy potato crust. Partner declared that these were the best fish sticks in the whole world.
The most memorable dessert was a grapefruit ginger napolean. My trio of apple (pain perdu, sorbet, etc) paired beautifully with a Calvados.
I'd read some worries about the location in a busy hotel lobby, but once you walk up the steps your ensconced in elegance. High ceilings, ornate decorations, the Christmas lights of Union Square out the window... really great setting. Add in SF socialites dressed in couture, elected representives exchanging gifts with family, a young couple getting engaged at the very next table, and the Chef stopping by to say hello and it was truly a magical night.
Pick a special occasion at put this one on your list.