Dominique Crenn, who had been the chef at the Michelin star rated Luce
opened up her own restaurant, Atelier Crenn
just a few months ago in San Francisco. Named after her father's studio, each menu comes with a mission statement of what Atelier Crenn is trying to provide. The restaurant itself is a cozy space, seating perhaps 40-some odd people in the main dining room. (As with most establishments, Atelier Crenn also has a private dining room).
On this occasion, I opted for the Chef's tasting menu ($115), a 10 course meal showcasing the skills of Dominique Crenn and her kitchen staff. A three-course ($62) and four-course ($72) is also available and contains little overlap with the Chef's Tasting Menu.
While I definitely enjoyed the food, the beverage pairings ($65) left a little to be desired; while I certainly appreciated the inclusion of beer within the beverage pairing, the food pairing with the beer was not particularly good; the same went for the final wine of a evening, an aged Chianti to go with dessert, which was a bit overpowering in flavor and far too sweet. The wine service was not particularly knowledgeable either -- it was simply a reading of the region it was from, the name of the producer, and the bottling year; you may be better off selecting your own wines by the glass.
The food here is fantastic, and a lot of care is given to the presentation of the dishes, as each dish is a culinary masterpiece.
The Amuse Bouche were a pair of tablespoons, each holding a different combination; one spoon was a frozen pea soup, while the other contained spheres of foie gras served atop a rose petal. These tablespoons were served with an "earth crostini" with salt, pepper, and peashoots perched atop a rock.
The Kir Breton is this little globe of champagne in a little apple shape. Simply amazing.
I loved the Oyster and Prawn appetizer; the oyster is served with with a bit of smoked sturgeon, and the prawn was served almost sashimi style with a saffron sauce, atop a warm rock.
The Le Jardin du Printemps with the yogurt snow and the wild rice crisps is both wonderful to look at, and tasty as well.
The foie gras was served frozen thinly at 30 Celsius. I thought this was a really creative way to present foie gras -- the creamyness of the foie gras was so wonderful, almost as if eating ice cream. This dish was served as part of the Morels course and included pickled morels and French gingerbread crumbs.
I really enjoyed the slow cooked egg with the various vegetables and sauces; the rye breadcrumbs are very good, and add some gritty texture to an otherwise smooth dish.
My one criticism was actually the one dish that I had been looking forward to the most : the Artic Char with carrot, liquorice and uni; the uni had been emulsified, turning the lovely creamy texture of uni into a mostly insubstantial foam, with all the flavor of uni, but still lacking in the richness of the real deal.
The dessert chef is very talented, and brought forth two very impressive creations: an olive oil meringue popsicle and green olive ice cream.
The olive oil meringue popsicle on the pine was very creamy and the olive oil flavor was very subtle, but only really a two-bite dessert. I definitely wanted more of it than two bites.
The green olive ice cream was a much bigger portion, and very good, mixed with some lemon verbana and ginger breadcrumbs.
Towards the end of the meal, I was feeling somewhat full, so I skipped the Cheese Cart and did not order any additional desserts. It is very nice that such an option is there, considering how lovely the desserts are.
Flickr: Atelier Crenn