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Fleur de Lys dining roomHubert KellerBest French Restaurants
in San Francisco

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Recommended reviews and articles about this restaurant:  Francis Bown  /  /  Frommer's Guide  /  GAYOT  /  Mobil Travel Guide  /  Sally's Place  /  San Francisco Observer  /







Dinner only

Monday to Thursday
6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.


Friday and Saturday
5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.


5:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.


Closed Sunday



Fleur de Lys

777 Sutter Street
San Francisco, California 94109



  (415) 673 7779


  (415) 673 4619

Chef de Cuisine:

  Rick Richardson
 Restaurant Manager
and Sommelier:
Marcus Garcia
Chef Propriétaire:   Hubert Keller
  Hubert and Chantal Keller,
Maurice Rouas

Official Site:

Yes Click here


By Francis Bown

Fleur de Lys, San Francisco, California, USStrangely, there are some people who like noise with their food. This is probably one of the reasons – another is the herd instinct, which is equally despicable – why diners flock to the ‘restaurant of the moment’ and there scream and shout at each other, while they queue for the privilege of eating with the crowd. But cacophony with the cassoulet is not for me. Nor, I suspect, dear reader, is it for you. You are of the civilized and discerning sort, whose idea of the good life is to do with beauty, proportion and good taste. For you, a meal is an occasion when these qualities should be affirmed and celebrated, not an opportunity for loud voices and damaged hearing. You will therefore be pleased to know that one of the very best restaurants in San Fancisco is one of the quietest. This is not because it is unpopular and empty – far from it. Rather, it is because it has a magic cure for noise. Fleur de Lys is a tent.


I do not mean that it is a structure of canvas, temporarily erected on a piece of open ground. Rather, I mean that within number 777 Sutter Street – more or less half way between Union Square and Nob Hill – is an elegant chamber draped with hundreds of yards of fine red brocade, which swoops up to a point, from which hangs a gigantic chandelier of white crystal. It is the effect, I imagine, one would find in the parlour of the grandest of Bedouin sheikhs. Together with a clever use of mirrored glass, this faux-tent creates a dining room which is impressive, welcoming and – because so much sound is absorbed by the folds of silk – astonishingly quiet. I congratulate whoever came up with this brilliant design.


Fleur de Lys, San Francisco, California, US

Not, I think, that the visitors to Fleur de Lys tend to be a particularly boisterous lot. On the evening of my visit, they looked both charming and well-dressed. Indeed, I was delighted to see that several of the gentlemen even had jackets and ties – although not in the dark colours sported by members of staff. Certainly, everyone seemed to be having a jolly good time.


And so they might, for this restaurant exudes enjoyment from its every pore. Chef Hubert Keller came here in 1986, having worked in some of the grandest kitchens in his native France, including that of Paul Bocuse. In San Francisco he joined restaurateur Maurice Rouas to create what quickly became (and remains) one of the city’s most famous dining rooms. Now Fleur de Lys has a Michelin star and Chef Keller appears on the television and has several other restaurants. But we may infer from the fact that his charming wife, Chantal Keller, controls its front of house, that Fleur de Lys is still the closest to his heart.


Fleur de Lys, San Francisco, California, USI was taken to my table by the Wine Director, Marcus Garcia. Mr Garcia is a charming young fellow, and looked after me exceptionally well throughout the evening. He is local, and I am told that he is an accomplished performer of jazz and blues music. His evident knowledge of wine is certainly useful here, for he has charge of a prestigious cellar. Of the one thousand offerings on the list, many are French and many are of the stuff of the wine lover’s dreams. How often nowadays do you see clarets from the legendary 1961 vintage? Yet here we have the greatest chateaux: Lafite ($3,100), Haut Brion ($3,600), Mouton Rothschild ($3,600) and Pétrus ($10,000). There is even 1945 Lafite ($8,000), a bottle of which I had the privilege of holding (but not, alas! drinking) at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York many years ago. Those of you with a sweet tooth might also relish the prospect of quaffing a Methuselah (6 litres) of d’Yquem for the modest sum of $20,000.


Fleur de Lys, San Francisco, California, USFor my own drinking, Mr Garcia took me to Germany and France and poured into the Riedel glasses two enjoyable bottles. The dry 1982 riesling, with just 10% alcohol, was a radiant gold. It needed a moment in the glass, and then it gave off a marvellous nose of petrol and confit of pear. In the mouth it had a most appealing acidity. This bottle was not on the list, and I fear I omitted to note the producer. The 2005 Châteauneuf-du-Pape was a real contrast – spicy, soft and accessible, with lots of smoked bacon in the nose (Dom. Vieux Lazaret, Cuvée Exceptionelle - $115).


With these liquid delights came French food which was a joy for both the eye and the palate. Three, four and five courses can be ordered from the carte, at $70, $79 and $92. Given the quality of the service, the surroundings and the cuisine, these prices seemed exceptionally friendly. The price for my four courses, given one or two supplements, was around $90.


Fleur de Lys, San Francisco, California, USI think there was not a dish on the menu which I could not happily have ordered. I began with a salad of white and green asparagus, with cream of salsify, black truffles, aged Xerés vinegar and a ‘marble’ of foie gras and pistachio. This sounds delicious, and it was: its execution was tip-top and its balance of tastes and textures was exactly right. Next, the ‘colourful vegetable ragoût’ came with a poached egg, truffles and a truffled port sauce. This was a rich and satisfying dish. It pleased me that, surrounded by its grand neighbours, it was the humble brussel sprout – as so often – which won the prize for Best Flavour. My main course was venison Rossini, in which the powerful meat was caressed into loveliness by the accompanying foie gras. I finished as one should in a great French restaurant, with a big and indulgent soufflé. Fleur de Lys, San Francisco, California, USThis one was of the Grand Marnier sort, with orange and cardamom ice cream – a cracking end to a really good meal.


And I had not had to raise my voice once. Ah, the bliss of a quiet dinner, enjoyed in a tent, surrounded by the relaxing murmur of contented diners. As my evening at Fleur de Lys came to an end, the words of the song made popular by Mr Louis Armstrong drifted into my mind: ‘What a wonderful world.’



© 2008 Francis Bown.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.  For reviews of hotels and restaurants across the world, visit


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