Aptly located in the recently renovated Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco (SFMOMA), Corey Lee’s In Situ is a gallery of sorts – one where the art is not on the walls, but on the menu, which features dishes from more than 80 of the world’s most game-changing chefs.
In Situ opened last month and is the third – and most distinctive – of Lee’s restaurants, which include three Michelin-starred Benu and Monsieur Benjamin. Lee’s “exhibition restaurant” is situated on the ground floor of SFMOMA and is divided into two spaces: a dining room that seats 60, as well as a lounge with a capacity of 70 for walk-ins and featuring a large communal seating area. Designed by Aidlin Darling Design, the setting is sleek and open, to encourage accessibility when the restaurant is viewed from the street.
The a la carte menu rotates on the basis of seasonality and geography, and reads like the bucket list of any discerning diner’s dreams, with the dishes from the likes of of René Redzepi of Noma, Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana (which currently tops the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list), Daniel Boulud, and Thomas Keller. Though most of the dishes are already well-known, some of them have been created specifically for In Situ.
For those in Hong Kong lamenting the lack of chef Richard Ekkebus’ iconic sea urchin dish, add San Francisco to the travel itinerary as the item will no longer be available in the city, and will instead be on the menu at In Situ. Also representing Hong Kong are Matt Abergel with his dish of uni, fresh nori, and Aonori panko served at Ronin, and Lau Chiu Shing of Fook Lam Moon with a plate of fresh crab claw with egg white and Chinese wine.
It’s common to see ideas and execution "copied" from iconic restaurants around the world, but at In Situ, Lee is embarking on global collaboration and offering a comprehensive taste of dishes from the world’s most lauded restaurants. Lee worked closely with the participants to ensure each dish will be recreated authentically. (Get cracking on Lee's own dishes with his Benu cookbook here.)
In a restaurant where everything is a signature, we select five mouthwatering dishes to order.
Interpretation of Vanity: Moist chocolate cake, cold almond cream, bubbles and cocoa
At Mugaritz, each dish is created to engage all senses, and Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz’s dish at In Situ is no exception. The bubbles, which represent the meaninglessness and emptiness of vanity, are juxtaposed with the indulgent chocolate elements and the gold to represent luxury.
Octopus and the Coral: braised octopus and seaweed
Currently South America’s best restaurant, Central is helmed by Virgilio Martinez. The Peruvian chef spends his time between his kitchens in Lima and London, and when he is not there he is foraging at all altitudes with his team to bring diners on a culinary journey through Peru’s biodiversity and ecosystem.
Sage smoked chocolate brownie
Would you expect anything less than spectacular from the creator of the cronut and the cookie shot? Dominique Ansel wows with this dessert, created last year at his eponymous bakery in New York City. Ansel opened shop in New York in 2011, after cutting his teeth as a pastry chef at Daniel Bound's Daniel and Fauchon. He is set to open his first bakery in London this summer.
Brown oyster stew with benne and Charleston ice cream
Enjoy Southern hospitality in its most authentic form with Virginia-born-and-bred chef Sean Brock's dish from South Carolina's Husk at In Situ. Brock’s childhood had a surefire influence on his cooking at Husk, where he delves into the rich history of Southern cooking. The chef works with farmers, historians and plant geneticists, collecting heirloom seeds and cultivating crops that are nearly extinct, giving his diners an insight into the historical culinary landscape of the South.
Buttermilk fried chicken and pine salt
Comfort food is always a big draw, especially when it's executed well and Isaac McHale’s buttermilk fried chicken will undoubtedly be a must-order at In Situ until it goes off menu. McHale was a member of the Young Turks Collective, a group of chefs who ran pop-ups in exclusive locations around London, and opened The Clove Club in 2013, reviving the use of traditional British ingredients and solidifying himself as one of the UK's most formidable chefs.