Dinner started with an amuse bouche of Vietnamese-inspired gazpacho gelee and a tiny celery-avocado bite with won ton puff.

Dinner started with an amuse bouche of Vietnamese-inspired gazpacho gelee and a tiny celery-avocado bite with won ton puff.

The story: For many years, the French restaurant Fleur de Lys was the place many people went for a special, celebratory dinner. And why not? The atmosphere with the dramatic draped tenting creates a festive but elegant dining room, which featured the award-winning food of celebrated Chef Hubert Keller. Chef Keller’s dishes gained him notoriety, allowing him to open other restaurants in Las Vegas and a gourmet burger concept (Burger Bar) as well as getting him appearances on BRAVO-TV’s “Top Chef” franchise.

Why I went: The restaurant announced recently that after 28 years, it will be closing this Saturday on June 28. I went online once I heard to grab a reservation to check out the place for the first and last time. (BTW, the restaurant, expectedly, is booked solid until closing.)

The vibe: Elegant yet whimsical with colorful artwork on the wall, the atmosphere is sophisticated yet friendly. The clientele looked like they were mostly regulars hoping for one last meal before closing mixed with a few, younger walk-ins hoping for a last-minute cancellation.

The dining room is a grand stage with an enormous centerpiece and tent draping, making it an ideal spot over the years for special celebrations.

The dining room is a grand stage with an enormous centerpiece and tent draping, making it an ideal spot over the years for special celebrations.

The booze: With both a cocktail and wine list, Fleur de Lys lives up to the standards of any French restaurant, including the prices, where wine by the glass can go for as much as $30 for a single glass.

The menu: Traditional French meals with creative twists, diners have the option of chosing a three-course pri-fixe menu or a four- or five-course tasting menus. I dined with my friend Tat, and we both went with the three-course menu, choosing from the ala carte menu. We both weren’t impressed with our appetizers and our dessert of a special “lucuma”  souffle was nicely baked but lacked much flavor. Still, our entrees were home runs, with Tat enjoying braised wagyu Kobe beef cheeks and I having the roasted quail stuffed with farro.

The last bite: Since the restaurant is closing, I won’t be giving a rating (or restaurant info) with this post. It was funny, at dinner it didn’t seem like the servers or hostesss gave any hint of the impending close. It was busy as usual. The service is fantastic, but the food (other that the two entrees) felt like they were running on automatic. While the plates were beautifully arranged and had some creative twists, some of the bites felt stale or tired. Despite that, Fleur de Lys contributed a lot to the San Francisco dining scene and I was glad to have experience it before it made a final bow.

"Baeckeoffe" of escargots, truffles and potatoes with basil pesto and parsley salad. The dish is baked with a puffed pastry seal around the cover.

“Baeckeoffe” of escargots, truffles and potatoes with basil pesto and parsley salad. The dish is baked with a puffed pastry seal around the cover.

Starter of local petrale sole with potato puree, served with a Dungeness crab and sea urchin sauce.

Starter of local petrale sole with potato puree and caviar, served with a Dungeness crab and sea urchin sauce.

Roasted quail stuffed with farro and served with a "nest" with a soft-boiled quail egg.

Roasted quail stuffed with farro and served with a “nest” with a soft-boiled quail egg.

My quail came with a pear flan with what tasted like summer corn colored by beets.

My quail came with a pear flan with what tasted like summer corn colored by beets.

Braised wagyu Kobe beef cheeks with sweet and spicy root vegetables.

Braised wagyu Kobe beef cheeks with sweet and spicy root vegetables.

More of the beef cheeks, with a poached egg on top.

More of the beef cheeks, with a poached egg on top.

We sat next to this colorful artwork, which I just loved.

We sat next to this colorful artwork, which I just loved.

Lucuma souffle, which had a fantastic light texture but the flavor came only from the creme anglaise  poured into the center. Lucuma is a type of Peruvian fruit.

Lucuma souffle, which had a fantastic light texture but the flavor came only from the creme anglaise poured into the center. Lucuma is a type of Peruvian fruit.

The end of our meal, which was entertaining. While it didn't blow me away, I felt the dinners of Fleur de Lys past all come together for a final goodbye. I can now say I partook in San Francisco's culinary history.

The end of our meal, which was entertaining. While it didn’t blow me away, I felt the dinners of Fleur de Lys past all come together for a final goodbye. I can now say I partook in San Francisco’s culinary history.

3 Responses to Farewell to Hubert Keller’s Fleur de Lys in San Francisco

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    So sad to hear of its impending closing after all these years. Such a classic place and so ahead of its time when it first opened by having lighter sauces and offering a vegetarian menu. Can’t wait to hear what Chef Hubert does next.

  2. foodhoe says:

    Aww, I’m glad you went to say farewell! Mr. K and I had a memorable meal there as one of our first dates, and in such a splendid and romantic setting! I had never been served an amuse bouche before and will forever savor the fond memories of my dinner there…

  3. Tara says:

    That’s great that you got a reservation before it closed! My friend called me thirty minutes before hers and asked me to go because her +1 cancelled but I was just not in the right mindset to eat at Fleur De Lys…kind of regretting it now that I am typing but at least I can live vicariously through you. 🙂