The Big Five O - 2/13/10

A celebration at Michael Mina

Michael Mina - San Francisco

Course One

Course Two

Course three

 

Michael Mina in San Francisco

Tonight Hoa and Kevin are taking me to Michael Mina for my 50th birthday!  Michael Mina is located inside the Westin Saint Francis, a historic luxury hotel located on Powell Street at Geary Street on Union Square in San Francisco.

Michael Mina became a celebrity chef while overseeing Aqua and was Bon Appétit Chef of the Year in 2006.  He took the small-plate dining experience into a higher and different concept of sampling an array of small plates. By the way, Andre Agassi, the famous tennis player, is Michael Mina business partners.  Together they have opened a total  of 17 restaurants in the U.S.  In California they have opened  6 restaurants.  There are 3 in San Francisco: Michael Mina, Clock Bar, and RN74; and there is 1 restaurant in San Jose: Arcadia, which I intend to give it a try one of these days...

Michael Mina won many accolades but the most prestigious one was from the Michelin guide, which he was awarded two Stars in 2009 but in 2010  he was demoted to 1 Michelin Star.  I am not sure why he was demoted to only 1 star because compare to Boulevard, which also got 1 Michelin Star, I really think Michael Mina is definitely a step above.

 

This the overview of Michael Mina restaurant when you get in the lobby of the Westin Saint Francis.

Barbara Barry executed the design of  the restaurant with a tag of $4.5 million in renovation.  The wide, elegant dining room lofted above the lobby of the historic Saint Francis hotel is very impressive and dramatic, with soaring 20-foot ancient Greek like columns.

To get in the restaurant you have to climbs these beautiful stairs where the hostess posing like a ballerina in a form-fitting black dress greets their guests.

This is what you see as soon as you walked in the Westin Saint Francis hotel.

 

 

 

The colors including the grayish hues of the weighty armchairs are designed to summon the feel of foggy San Francisco.  The dining room is smaller than I expected, and while the dove gray theme is pleasant, it is uninteresting verging on boring.  However, the  20 foot high ceiling with massive columns is impressive.  Perhaps, Mina wants the decor to be muted but still elegant to create a big contrast, like serving a colorful plate of food against a white table cloth so all you see is the food. 

Small touches at the table are appreciated. The lighted silver trivet cast a warm glow on the table.  Oversize napkin is set on top of a giant Indonesian oyster shell.

The butter was topped with fleur de sel in tiny ginkgo leaf dishes, which were placed individually for each guests.  There are no bread basket.  The bus boy brought out bread on demand and the bread is always warm when it is served.
 

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