In our current food-world dynamic of always chasing what’s new (“Oooh, yeah, I had that dish, ‘grammed it, what’s next?!”), with diners traveling the world to check off a Michelin-rated or World’s 50 Best Restaurant chef’s signature dish, a restaurant like ~IN SITU~ perfectly feeds that voracious appetite.
In this restaurant nestled inside the updated SFMOMA, chef-owner Corey Lee (Benu, Monsieur Benjamin) and executive chef Brandon Rogers are working with chefs from around the world to replicate their dishes, from Massimo Bottura’s trademark Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart to Lee’s mentor, Thomas Keller, whose dish of Liberty duck breast and lentils from the French Laundry was also on the menu (and you know Lee nailed it).
While some of the dishes aren’t an exact facsimile and may feature local or seasonal ingredients where needed, otherwise they are pretty spot-on replicas, with the original chefs providing detailed instruction and guidance on how to re-create them (some even sent videos). And of course it could only be a respected and maniacally detailed chef like Corey Lee and his team who would be entrusted by top chefs around the world to even take on a project of this scale.
While the menu can be initially overwhelming (a bit like the website, whoa, where do I click?), just surrender to it not being a normal progressive menu, with appetizers, main courses, and dessert. Go with some friends who love food and have a sense of adventure and won’t mind having a dish of stone crab claw from Fook Lam Moon in Hong Kong followed by Mauro Colagreco of Mirazur’s “The Forest” from Menton, France, and then the nasal-clearing guinea fowl larp Chiang Mai from David Thompson of Nahm. It’s totally culinary ADD, don’t fight it. And not everything is elevated and high end: dishes like shrimp and tasso henican from Commander’s Palace in New Orleans also hold their own place.
Here’s what I did with my posse: we ordered the entire menu (11 savory courses and 3 desserts) and shared tastes of each dish—it was a blast. While it looked like a totally extravagant and baller move, in the end, it came to $316 for the total menu, divided by four, which came to $79 each. And then In Situ adds 20 percent service.
If you think about most nights out and high-end tasting menus in the city, it’s kind of a bargain to be able to globe-trot (no airfare needed) and taste many dishes from places you may have only heard or seen pictures of. And that’s what dinner here felt like: scrolling through your culinarily obsessed friend’s Instagram feed (or perhaps that would be you) and tasting each picture. Scroll, next picture, taste.
Some of the dishes were staggering, like Albert Adrià’s Jasper Hill Farm Cheesecake from Tickets in Barcelona, a trompe l’œil-meets-mic drop of a dessert (it’s still on the menu, just go get it and ignore the $22 price tag—it’s worth having your mind blown with how clever it is). The Apocalypse Burger from Anthony Myint is another one that will make you say, “Damn, so smart, and so good.”
Dishes are on high rotation, so keep up with In Situ to see what’s on the menu now. It makes perfect sense in the context of being a museum restaurant—the exhibitions are constantly changing.
Can’t get a reservation? There’s a lounge area with its own menu and plenty of room for walk-ins and a communal table, and you may be able to order some dishes off the main menu if you ask nicely.
Of course the flatware, stemware, china, wine selections (with many options by the glass), and service are all tops—all the way down to the most luxurious paper napkin you’ve ever had. The minimalist room is pretty stark and definitely lit up, but hey, it makes for better Insta pictures, which we know you’ll be posting.