SF Atelier Crenn switches to pre-paid prix fixe

Full details from Eater, and a change to Petit Crenn’s menu offering as well:

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I’m so glad i went before the prices skyrocketed. We have a phenomenal meal, 5 years ago, and paid $160 per person. Totally worth it, but i would not go again at today’s prices.

here’s my review from back then, if it helps anyone decide if they want to go (if you can afford it, do it!)

"here goes! it’s long…

Our dinner exceeded our expectations. I had been a little leery of what appeared to be such preciousness (the menu’s listing of the $160 tasting is merely a poem entitled “Introduction to Winter”!) My sister and I each had:

Escabeche mussels with sea foam and a saffron rouille. This was served on a rock, evoking a little island in the ocean.

Steelhead trout caviar on housemade rice crackers, on a shiso leaf. Loved the licorice bite of the shiso paired with the salty roe.

Palate cleanser #1 - White chocolate “egg” with a fantastic burst of Kir breton inside. The chocolate shell was paper thin and crackly brittle.

Tiger shrimp prepared sous vide, then grilled a la piastra, with banbanji tahini dots, and a trail of seaweed powder. We were instructed to eat with our hands. Juicy, crunchy, wonderful.

Kushi oyster poached in sake, with elderflower gelee, tapioca pearls, mirin and thyme beurre blanc, creme fraiche. Delicate, fresh – a sensual morsel.

Whole wheat and rice flour brioche. The only item of the night I didn’t love, as they were a tad dry for my taste.

Poached Dungeness crab with sunchoke, rutabaga, lovage, grapefruit, rice cracker, dill, cinnamon, and other flavors I can’t recall melding beautifully.

Pickled and scorched mackerel in chamomile foam, beet “texture”/powder, horseradish, verbena. So many contrasts, yet it all worked perfectly together.

Palate cleanser #2 - another “egg”, but this one of an ice made of rooibos tea, honey, and vanilla. I was reminded again that we were dealing with winter – my teeth actually hurt eating this!

A “standard” brioche. Much better. Would have liked butter.

Foie gras flash chilled and shaved, shaped like a curl of bark, along with vanilla, cocoa nibs, apple bits, balsamic gelee little cubes, rice cracker. This was absolutely wonderful, and a true signal that the pleasure would ratchet up exponentially from here on out. The lovely foie melted with each bite of sweet vanilla and cocoa, tart apple, and crispy cracker…

Razor clam with carrot foam, squid ink, seaweed, smoked paprika “soil”, and smoked sturgeon pearls. This was our favorite item … to this point. The sweetish foam on the sweet clam, and the smokiness of the entire dish – astounding.

Madai (japanese snapper) with fried sage, alliums, kumquat shells, cilantro puree, edible flowers, browned butter, and fried capers. This topped the razor clam. The apparently freeze dried and powdered browned butter “snow” melted with the perfectly grilled snapper, the alliums contrasted with the kumquat…this dish was earthy and substantial, and yet still light.

Pigeon ume, with “ash” of coffee, puree of black garlic, and other delicious things I can no longer read in my notes. The squab held its own heart (or liver – both were definitely on the plate) in its claw – completely dramatic presentation amongst the 10 or more preceding gorgeous presentations (reminded us of Grayson’s dish on TC during the Snow White challenge). I was blown away by the delicious, ruby rare flesh, and the attendant deeply warm flavors of the ume and coffee.

Eucalyptus plant with rose/honey ice. Literally, a planter comes out, with a little eucalyptus tree. It was an all-senses cleanser (well, most senses), and on each side a eucalyptus stem had been painted with eucalyptus oil, and topped with a fat lollypop of honey and rose ice. In case we’d forgotten it was winter.

A beautiful little Japanese siphon then came out, it’s bowl filled with mulling spices on top and ginseng on the bottom, a little flame beneath, making a lovely tisane to sip with our dessert. The light red warmed liquid was spiced yet mild and slightly sweet.

Hyperbole alert: (I can’t help it!) Next came the best dessert I’ve had in my entire life: a pear sorbet in the shape of a pear and “spray painted” with pear, apple, and quince, to look like a frosted, golden and rosy pear that had fallen from its wintry tree onto the forest floor below. The forest floor was made of more of the powdery, nutty browned butter, maple, sage cake, apple granita and greek yogurt snow – so with each bite you got cold crunches of snow and a little munch like mud and leaves (I cannot remember what they were, but in my pics they look pretty leaf-like) and the only thing that was inedible was the stem on the pear, which was actually a piece of vanilla, and which I discovered I had inhaled when my plate was empty. This was an unbelievably thought provoking dish. And I don’t even care about pears.

Then a split log was brought out covered in mignardises: passion fruit marshmallows, madeleines, rice crispy covered chocolate and passionfruit, ginger something, key lime something else, mango something, gold leaf covered bitter chocolate sheets, and a salted caramel that made us both actually moan out loud. (Well, there was a lot of that throughout the meal but this was particularly guttural and we both did it at completely different times.) Our server told us the pastry chef had tried 15 different ways to make that cellophane wrapped sweet until he hit upon that one.

Service was excellent and warm, and our charming server was extremely tolerant of our picture taking and endless requests for repetition of ingredients. The sommelier took care of me, adhering to my budget conscious request of half glasses (after our initial glass of bubbly served in delightful retro champagne coupes - a Cremant de Limoux (Chardonnay/Chenin Blanc)) of a dry white and a bold red. He brought me first a very lovely floral yet dry 2010 Eric Louis “Cuvee Petit Prince” Sancerre, and then a generous “half glass” pour of a 2007 Sierra Madre Pinot Noir, from the Santa Maria Valley. (My sister did not drink after the initial glass of sparkling wine. And the only tiny complaint we had was that we were not told, as we almost always are, anywhere we go, that we would be charged for the sparkling water. A small quibble of $10 – I was too happy to bring it up.)

This was, by far, the best meal I’ve ever had. Better than Masa, better than Danko, even better than Coi. We left satiated but not stuffed. Chef Crenn, as others have mentioned, came out several times to ask how we were faring, inquiring how we liked a particular dish, discussing ingredients, techniques. She was warm and engaging, and affirmed that she was indeed cooking from her heart. It’s not a trite declaration, coming from her. The food was for me a perfect mixture of intellect, wonder and rusticity.

This was a huge splurge for us, but if I could afford to do it again, I would love to come back to see what flights of thoughtful fancy she’ll conjure up each season."

We actually did go back again, the following year, when the prices were about $200 per person, i believe. didn’t love it as much as the first time, but still, it’s definitely an amazing experience.

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I just watch the Netflix Dominique Crenn show today. Food looks very precious and beautiful!

Maria, thanks for your yummy description. A lot of seafoods in the meal.

Well, 325€ is too steep for a meal. I don’t know if it is justified to raise the price more than double in a few years time.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold