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Michael Mina moved to the San Francisco Financial district location that once housed Aqua in late 2010. Bourbon Steak occupies its former Westin Hotel Union Square location. We gave them a couple months to get in sync and decided to see what Michael Mina SF 2.0 was all about. We returned in Early 2012.
Cuisine – Mina’s sensibilities with Japanese ingredients and French influence.
Chef – Michael Mina, the man himself, is guiding this restaurant during its early days.
Location – Financial district
Michael Mina and son were cooking!
Decor, Vibe – Upscale formal elegance with huge mirrors, modern art, hardwood tables and beautiful chairs. Long bar up front. The loud, dimly lit, and high-ceiling room was filled with well dressed diners, businessmen, and locals. Most 40+. We feel this location is far more intimate than the old Westin hotel.
Michael Mina Menu Pictures
Michael Mina has an expensive chef’s tasting menu as well as eight appetizer and entrée options, some of which can be ordered a la carte. Caviar, chilled seafood, and hors d’oeuvers are available. Menu changes every so often. Not a lot of options for vegetarians.
Signature Dishes – Lobster pot pie, foie gras, Beef ribeye.
Liberty farms duck breast seared foie gras, miso – pear purée , duck shumai , dashi broth ($38) was perfectly cooked to a medium-rare with a crispy skin and excellent, slightly sweet pear accompaniment.
Flor de cana Mojito ($11) with strong, potent, and sour.
Grilled sourdough bread and ricotta honey spread was excellent. Restraint!
Complimentary Amuse Bouche of grilled cheese with prosciutto and cabbage soup was not especially memorable.
hamachi crudo green apple, winter black truffle, tempura crunch ($19) was a very small and light dish filled with very fresh and refreshing raw fish. There were six small bites, so plan accordingly.
Tasting of provincial shellfish bouillabaisse broth, uni toast ($18) was a fun and beautiful dish full of several types of clams including razor clams, mussels, but no fish. It was served with a tomato base broth that was poured tableside. Some of the razor clams were not fully cleaned, resulting in some sand action. The uni toast was excellent with two large mounds of delectable and tangy seafood.
Dungeness crab pasta pyramids, artichoke, sylvetta, Meyer lemon ($24) featured a great many ravioli-wonton like pieces of goodness filled with some of the first crab of the season. A pretty filling dish with lots of quantity.
foie gras pineapple buckwheat crêpe, allspice dram, macadamia nut ($28) is for fellow foie gras aficionados! This sounds funky with its crêpe, but it proved to be far more mainstream. You get both a seared and the terrine version with some variety that takes top-notch foie and melds it with more exotic items.
Carnaroli risotto oyster mushrooms, Maine lobster, lemon, parsley purée ($20) was a tasty and rich dish with some beautiful colors and a hint of citrus along with several large lobster chunks.
“Five seas” Tasting of Japanese fish, bamboo Rice, Ginger vinaigrette ($42) was a beautiful dish with a variety of fish and shellfish including braised tuna cheek, Hokkaido scallop, braised tuna cheek, miso-glazed cod, and even a wood ear mushroom. Extraordinarily expensive but a balance of freshness and starch.
Brandt Farms beef ribeye porcini butter poached, palms fondant ($46) is for the meat lovers in the audience. Top-quality meat, cooked perfectly, with a nice crispy crust and elegant potatoes topped with a fava bean pendant.
Prather ranch farms lamb chops and osso bucco, pomegranate-lamb jus ($39) had a single beautiful lamb chop that still possessed a little gaminess, but tasted perfect. The was not much bone marrow in the accompanying bone and the quantities provided are on the low side. This was one of the weakest dishes of the evening.
Braised pork short rib, mission figs, Anson Mills polenta, Hock jus ($32) was an excellent dish with tender pork that fell off the bone bathed in the meaty sauce. The dish included a couple fried balls full of meat and some excellent polenta.
Maine lobster pot pie Marty’s heirloom pumpkin, trumpet mushrooms, cavalonero (Market Price $75) is their signature dish and consists of a un-shelled poached 1.5lb lobster bathed in a rich broth and presented on top of a dense pastry shell. Perfect for lobster fans albeit slightly overpriced. Bourbon Steak San Francisco and Michael Mina’s Las Vegas location serves it slightly differently.
Dessert tasting ($15 per person) included six different items! Many were chocolate oriented, so make sure you save room for this fun and decadent dessert.
Candied apple, mulled cider, and frozen yogurt was a sweet mixture with some neutral foam on top.
Lozenge with milk chocolate, and honey were crispy candies with delicate chocolate layers.
Orange crisps with white chocolate, and orange glass were pieces of crispy and chocolatey candy housed in the wood box.
Wafers with Jasmine, and brown sugar were delicate thin wafers wrapped around soft sweet filling.
Brownie with dark chocolate, and bourbon had several different elements including a hard candy full of bourbon.
Briquette with coffee, cardamom and a marshmallow center was soft and a nice blend of different flavors.
Chicharrones with passion fruit, and Meyer lemon was a pretty good size dish full of this crunchy dessert, but flavor was lacking.
OK: (if you like this dish)
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Snake river farms wagyu shabu shabu foie gras, dashi broth, asian mushrooms ($21) was a fun dish but really didn’t work well. The broth was heated by a small flame and never reached high temperatures.
Service – One expects top-notch service at a venue like this and they delivered just that. A knowledgeable and accommodating waiter and very good service.
Value – Prices are in-line with top-notch caliber destination restaurants for special occasions.
Verdict – How is Michael Mina 2.0? He is back and better than ever. The cuisine is inventive while-being accessible to the mainstream. We were surprised by the excellent food and top-notch service.
How does Michael Mina compare to top San Francisco restaurants like Gary Danko? This restaurant definitely belongs in the same league again. If you are on a budget, come to Michael Mina for the much lower cost lunch menu. They have a $39 tasting menu at lunch that should fit the bill.
Long wine list with glasses of wine from $8, bottles of wine from $40, high markup. 4% surcharge for healthy San Francisco. 20% gratuity added for parties of six or more.