Best French Restaurant San Francisco 2004 - Fleur de Lys
The glory of the three-star French cooking celebrated in the famed Michelin guidebook lives on, happily for local gastronomes, in this venerable downtown restaurant. The d?cor (walls lined with mirrors and upholstered in busy printed fabric, a trademark enormous flower display tucked under the tented ceiling) can feel a trifle fussy and old-fashioned. But the extraordinary cooking of chef/owner Hubert Keller, presented by a flawless team of friendly and knowledgeable servers, is so exhilarating that the setting begins to feel as perfect as your meal. There are four prix fixe options (three-, four-, or five-course menus, or a set five-course vegetarian menu). You choose the courses from a vast two-page listing with a dazzling array of dishes both fabled and inventive. Luxury ingredients abound: Foie gras is not only present in two different starters, a classic tasting as well as an innovative pairing of a tiny casserole alongside a "burger" of minced duck and seared foie gras, but also in a potato with butterfish, with truffles inside a roasted breast of squab, and garnishing a quail stuffed with sweetbreads. Gifts from the kitchen -- an amuse-bouche of lobster salad on top of carrot gelee, a tiny onion tart, and a refreshing grapefruit-Campari sorbet -- enhance the beautifully orchestrated evening. It's pricey, but a similar meal in New York or France would be double the sum.