photo credit: Kelly Puleio Photography
At Le Fantastique, $49 lands you a pair of two-bite éclairs topped with maple fondant and caviar. They’re the best two bites of the night, and indicative of what you’ll get into at this seafood and wine bar: tiny portions of beautifully presented food ranging from solid to pretty good, plus a final bill that might make you wince. At such high price points, we expected more.
This Hayes Valley spot focuses on raw fish like scallops, ocean trout, and sea bream. There’s also milk bread with fancy butter, grilled cabbage, and wagyu on the menu of mostly small plates. As for the atmosphere, there’s a lot going on. Le Fantastique takes cues from Japanese listening bars, so shelves are stacked with vinyl, Fleetwood Mac and Solange pump through a very expensive sound system, and huge speakers overlook a sterile bar that would be right at home at an airport terminal. Luxurious dishes and careful plating is where this spot veers into fine dining territory. Look around and you’ll see bottles of champagne, a tucked-away lounge with leather couches and gold-framed mirrors, and a couple who probably own a Pacific Heights mansion enjoying caviar service before heading to their box seats at the symphony.
As for the food, the portion sizes might inspire you to hit a drive-through after. If you’re here with more than one other person, servers might unabashedly pressure you to “double up” on crudo orders, tack on more bread, or add another plate of fun-size strips of wagyu or crispy prawns. For two to three people, you’ll need to order 10 or so dishes to feel like you had a full meal, which can add up to upwards of $350 (not including wine). Flavor-wise, there are hits like the aforementioned éclairs filled with smoked onion créme fraîche we would gladly eat by the spoonful, and warm milk bread served with peppery yuzu kosho butter. While there’s nothing explicitly wrong with the crudos or the few heavier mains like squid garum maitake mushrooms or crispy prawns, none of them are particularly memorable.
We’ll definitely still swing by Le Fantastique if we want some pre-dinner wine in Hayes Valley, or some snacks and a glass of champagne before a show—kicking back at the bar or in the lounge and listening to vinyl is a perfectly pleasant way to spend an hour. But when we want to drink wine and eat raw fish, we’d go to spots like Anchovy Bar, Itria, or Bar Crudo first.
The infamous pair of $49 éclairs. They are an excellent four bites—the smoked onion créme fraîche gushes out when you sink your teeth in, and the contrast between the caviar and maple fondant makes an ideal salty-sweet balance.
A perfectly nice plate of ocean trout (three slices per order). They’re topped with espelette pepper for added kick.
Crispy Red Prawns
Solid. But not necessarily a dish you’ll remember the next day.
Two strips of meat that are the length of a keyboard space bar and are just…fine. They’re missing the melt-in-your-mouth quality we want in $59 wagyu. Feel free to skip.
All of the desserts at Le Fantastique are worthy of attention. They’re fun to look at and to eat—like the kakigori. What crowns this mound of shaved ice changes up, but expect poached seasonal fruits, crumbly brown sugars, and decadent syrups.