Tasting menus are as plentiful in San Francisco as tech start-ups, and many follow a similar fate; in the end it just doesn’t work. They’re a series of beautiful small plates flash in front of you, and then you’re done. What was in that bowl? How was that cheese called? It’s delicious, but overall it’s a blur. Merchant Roots, a relatively new Fillmore deli and restaurant, decided to do things differently. And the result is an otherworldly, creative affair.

The Table at Merchant Roots, a ticketed nightly affair, was crafted by real-life and business partners chef Ryan Shelton and wine director Madison Michael, spanning nine courses for $110, with optional wine pairings for an additional fee of $75. Like many other prix-fixe menus in town, there’s a theme; but not just any theme. ‘Elements’ is a delicious exploration of celestial bodies (sun, moon, comet) and minerals (salt), alongside your old friends: air, water and fire. There’s only one communal table, so through the meal you’ll get to meet your fellow San Franciscans as you sip wines and decipher beautiful creations.

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As @chefshelton says when this landscape arrives to close out the savory portion @merchantroots The Table, it’s just meat and potatoes. Yeaaa…on a log lacquered like a salad bowl, with marrow, leek ash, sunchoke coals, crispy maitake mushrooms. Umm, this is not #hopr 🥩. It’s more Hubble Telescope. And is one example of how the city’s newest & most relaxed high-end tasting menu is also one of its most clever and just plain fun 👌😎💫👏🥩 . . #tastingmenu #steak #sunchokes #sfeats #eatersf @kqedbayareabites #kqedfood #7×7 #fillmoresf #fillmoredistrict #prixfixe #finedining #eeeeeats #finedininglovers #foodstagram #goodfood #michelin #zagatsf #getinmybelly #sanfranciscofood #bayareafood #bayareaeats #bonappetit

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Not limiting themselves to a beautiful plating, Shelton and Michael serve an elaborate meal for all senses; SALT (nori-buttered octopus served with curious nori sponge bread and trout roe) rests on a volcano-shaped, custom-made plate, which produces dashi broth bubbles worthy of fine photography. FIRE (dry-aged strip loin with charred sunchokes, bone marrow, and horseradish cream) comes on burnt wood slabs the chef made himself. Other dishes come in spheres, edible gold leaf and paper-thin caramel ‘wraps’, ingredients frozen, torched or otherwise transformed.

Celestial in every way.

Tickets are sold-out through January, but February seats are available..

Merchant Roots, 1365 Fillmore Street, San Francisco