Masa’s Restaurant serves Contemporary French in Downtown San Francisco, not far from Union Square. Adjacent to Executive Hotel Vintage Court, they have been around for over 25 years. A long line of top notch chefs have come through here, Julian Serrano, Ron Siegel and Richard Reddington. Executive Chef Gregory Short is the current chef and has been since 2004. He has worked at French Laundry and in some of France’s top place. Masa’s earned one Michelin star in 2010.
Decor, Vibe – One fairly large elegant room with large red lamps, sculpture, modern art, and classic jazz playing. It was not too busy and fairly quiet during our midweek visit. Masa’s mainly had well dressed couples in their 30’s to 50 dining.
Menu (Click to zoom into any picture)
5 Course Menu
9 Course Menu
Masa’s Restaurant Menu has a three course, five course, and nine course menu with several options for each course. We ordered one 3 and one 5 course meal. Menus change every couple days.
Full Masa’s Picture Set
Mojito ($12) was strong and flavored well. A bit on the short side though.
Amuse Bouche – Crispy tofu with potato and onion foam was dense and had medium firm high quality tofu.
“Pad Thai” Hawaiian hearts of palm, Caribbean white shrimp, mung bean sprouts, roasted peanuts, tamarind vinaigrette was a fun dish showing Asian flavors. Crunchy, strong sauce, and a nice balance of flavors.
Big Eye Tuna “Chaud-Froid” – Seared rare medallion of big eye tuna with tomato sauce, pickled fresno chillies, pearl onions, tuna tartare with “confit” lemon, apple gelee, breakfast radish. A hot and cold fish appetizer, this dish looked great and had some high quality fish. Nice portion size too, when compared to our other appetizers.
Chilled “Terrine” of Artisan Foie Gras pickled hot house rhubarb, toasted brioche, petite celery ($18 supplement) was a thin portion of high quality and smooth goodness. They brioche was thick and an excellent way to serve the foie. The rhubarb was a nice touch although hard to join with the other items.
Pan Seared Maine Diver Scallop, nicoise olive and applewood smoked bacon “salpicon”, blood orange supremes, orange glaze were two good sized scallops. Good carmelization, fresh flavors, and a nice fruity accent. The tapenade seemed out of place.
Fennel Crusted Ribeye of Colorado Lamb – Herbed risotto cake, golden chantrelle mushrooms, lamb jus has two good sized chunks of medium rare lamb. High quality and tender with minimal gaminess. Nice crispy risotto cake. Not a large portion, good for perhaps five bites.
Seared Ribeye of Prime Angus Beef – Yukon gold potato “fondant”, roasted bone marrow, green asparagus, sauce bordelaise. Three good sized medallions of tasty high quality, tender, and flavorful beef. The dark sauce was very intense. The fondant was on the cheesy side.
Sorbet trio – Creme, Salted Carmel, and Cafe Au lait. Three solid flavors with the nice and heavy coffee flavored one leading the way. Salted Carmel sorbet ala Bi-Rite was a bit too heavy on the salt.
Candy Cart was full of high quality homemade candies, fruit jellies, chocolates, macaroons and the like. Keep some room for these quality treats or ask for a doggie bag. Le Cinq’s cart is still unrivaled.
Chilled Tangerine-Cointreau Souffle – Ruby Red grapefruit marmalade, almond-coca nib shortbread was like a good looking, high quality ice cream. Why they did not have a traditional souffle on the menu is a mystery. (There is one of their website) Perhaps the pastry chef was on vacation. This dessert was fine but not exceptional and the dessert menu was pretty weak.
Masa’s Restaurant has excellent service with waiter and servers roaming around all the time. Never an unfolded napkin or full glass here. Service was friendly and not stuffy although it took some effort to open up the waiter. No choreographed moves like Gary Danko though.
Food quality was high, inventiveness was there, although portion size was on the small side. The five course meal is probably the bare minimum for most folks. The nine course borders on food comaville. They even bottle their water. We would have to rank Gary Danko higher due to slightly better food quality and service, although either will fulfill our haute cuisine desires. Desserts are clearly their weak spot. If you are on a budget, try the three course meal.
High markup 24 page, 800-strong wine list, with bottles from $36, glasses from $11, $35 corkage.