Why did we dine here? – Monsieur Benjamin is the long awaited French restaurant from Corey Lee of Michelin Starred Benu. There has been a vacuum of French restaurants in the last several years, and hopefully this new establishment will fulfill the need for fine French food. Across the street is one of the long standing fine French restaurants, Absinthe.
Located in Hayes Valley, this restaurant is modern and beautiful inside with the kitchen as a center piece. Definitely a pre-show hot spot. Parking is difficult in this neighborhood at night, but thankfully there is a parking garage a couple of blocks away. We’ve dined here 3 times, our last visit was in October 2016.
Monsieur Benjamin is already a hit. We had to book several weeks out for a Friday night. Bauer gave this place three stars in his review. We were excited to finally give this place a go.
Insider Tip – Make reservations several weeks in advance
Cuisine – French
Location – Hayes Valley
Opened – 2014
Service – Monsieur Benjamin had professional service with a waitress who knew her stuff and helped us navigate the menu and establish a solid pacing. No worries with regard to refills and the like. Fast napkin folding too!
They have a preset 20% service charge added to your final bill.
Verdict – Monsieur Benjamin met our high expectations. The food was excellent as was the ambiance and service. We finally have another French place to dine at aside from Absinthe and Chapeau! Prices are on the high side, perfect for the newly minted rich. Quite a loud scene at night.
Next time, we need to try the steak tartare and Flounder.
Is this restaurant worth a 5 minute drive? Yes. 30 minute? Yes. 1 Hour? Maybe.
Monsieur Benjamin Signature Dishes – Steak Frites, Lobster Ragout, steak tartar.
Monsieur Benjamin’s Menu
Monsieur Benjamin Food Picks:
Camembert Beignets ($7) were piping hot out of the kitchen. They possessed a nice mild cheese flavor and were small bite sized chunks.
Mojito ($11) was not too tall but strong and well made. You can see the tiny drink assembly station right by the door. Too much ice though.
Butter Lettuce Salad ($12.50) Fines Herbes, Radishes looked beautiful and tasted fresh and light. The dressing was subtle and highlighted the rest of the ingredients.
Marrow Bones “Blue Ribbon” ($18.50) Bacon Marmalade, Toasted Country bread is a must order for bone marrow fans! 3 huge bones filled with rich marrow. Perfect accent was the slightly sweet marmalade.
Foie Gras Confit ($22) Vegetables Jardinere, Truffle, Pain de mie. This eggless foie was huge brick of rich flavor. Pretty liberal sizewise and of good quality too.
Escargots Bordelaise ($17.50) Mushroom Duxelles, Garlic, Parsley was covered with a thin, green glaze. No need to be scared of these snails. They were bathed in a buttery garlic sauce which needs to be devoured with some bread. Be sure to ask them for bread.
Steamed Mussels ($16) MB Biere, Garlic Sausage hit the mark. Huge mussels, crunchy toast, and an excellent broth. Be sure to ask for bread to sop up the tasty stuff.
Seafood Sausage ($18.50) with pine nuts, beurre Rose was filled with lobster, shrimp and fish. A signature dish that looks homely, but this is a must order. Paying this much for one small sausage hurts though!
Sweetbreads Grenobloise ($18.50) with sweet onion, capers, brown butter was slightly breaded in an egg solution. Lots of tender parts in a rich sauce.
Lobster Ragout ($32) Eggless Spaghetti, Mirepoix, Bacon, Fine Herbes contained a ton of lobster making this a meaty dish. Possessing a slight zest, this dish was a contrast in flavors and textures. They switched to a Shrimp spaghetti on our last visit)
Hamburger ($18.50) fully dressed with frites was fab. Highly quality meat grilled to a medium rare along with stellar fries. If you are on a budget, order this. They had a french dip on the menu that also sounded tempting.
Steak Frites ($45) Jus aux Herbes, Watercress, Sauce Choron is a French classic done well. The juicy steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare. Thin Frites were some of the best we had in a long time. Price jumped from 40 on our last visit!
Quail a la Chasseur ($36) Mushrooms, cabbage, vin jaune is another great dish. Beautifully plated, this tender quail with the leg still on, hits the right notes with its tender meat and sauce on the side.
Beef Short Ribs ($36) pommes puree was fantastic. Fall off the bone tender with a rich savory gravy. Another spot on must get.
Artic Char Amandine ($34) haricots verts, sunchoke, beurre Noisette was highly recommended by our waitress and definitely deserves ordering. Another signature. Beautiful, reasonably sized portion of fish cooked perfectly. This used to cost $28.50. The Flounder is also supposed to be wonderful.
Lemon Tart ($9.50) Mint Chantilly was ordered to go. Excellent dessert, well worth ordering. Rich, fruity accent, and smooth as velvet.
Crepe Facon Gateau ($10.50) Huckleberry, Pear, Almond, Creme Fraiche is a signature dish. No surprise at this French restaurant. Boy did it hit the mark, quickly chowed down even though we were full.
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
French Dip Sandwich ($18.50) Roast Beef, Horseradish, Gruyere looked good but proved to be just average. We had high hopes for this dish, as big french dip fans. Order the Hamburger instead.
Potatoe and Leek Croquettes ($7.50) were freshly fried but not as good as the Beignets. Some would call these fried mash potato balls.
Pork Rib ($27.50) choucroute, Apple, Sauce Robert was not described well by our waitress. It appears more ham bone like, and while not bad, was not what we expected. Cooked for 12 hours, it was tender and hearty.
Duck Confit ($36) was good but not great. We really wanted this dish to shine. The one at Village Pub in Woodside is far better.
Grilled Gem Lettuce ($7.50) sauce ravigote is extremely vinegary, so make sure you can handle this.
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Do you agree with our review? Have you found other similar restaurants that are better?