If you want to step your toes into Saison without ponying up for the full tasting menu (for $298), you can experience the more approachable Salon menu instead. The à la carte menu features dishes like Monterey Bay abalone, stew of rice and abalone liver, coastal greens, and artichoke ($20), and wood pigeon roasted over cherrywood embers, cherry leaf, dried cherry, and cherry blossom ($38). The menu changes daily, and you also have access to sommelier Mark Bright’s 5,000-bottle wine list, plus the new cocktails served in handblown Japanese glassware. Since there’s only room for 14, reservations are highly recommended.

178 Townsend St. at 3rd St., 415-828-7990.

Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column about the SF dining scene, subscribe for free at www.tablehopper.com. Out now is her first book, The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion, a groundbreaking new style of guidebook. And check out her new app, Tablehopper’s Top Late-Night Eats, which highlights 95 SF spots serving food past 11pm!