Atelier Crenn, a two Michelin star restaurant in the Marina District in San Francisco, is an intimate place serving not just food but edible works of art.
Chef and co-owner Dominque Crenn, originally from France, used to be the executive chef at Luce in the InterContinental Hotel in San Francisco. Not only was she the first female in the United States to earn two Michelin stars for her restaurant Atelier Crenn but also won against Iron Chef Michael Symon on Iron Chef America! Pretty freakin’ badass.
Here you can watch an episode of Munchies featuring a night out with Chef Dominique Crenn.
At Atelier Crenn, you receive a poem instead of a menu and they only offer one set tasting menu with numerous small courses. Chef Crenn has an unique style and truly is an artist in creating beautiful pieces not only aesthetically but in combinations of flavors.
Atelier Crenn is unlike any other fine dining restaurant I’ve ever been to. Chef Crenn pushes the limit in creativity and showcases elegant food with unique and explosive flavor combinations.
Some of my favorite dishes included the escargot, trout, trio of fish, lobster, razor clams, and squid. The escargot served in the beginning of the tasting menu was simply cooked to tender perfection. It was accompanied by pieces of earthy porcini mushrooms and an exquisite broth that was the true essence of porcini mushrooms. The vibrant trout, which was underneath a frothy air, was barely cooked and flavored with vadouvan (a mixture of spices usually containing onion, garlic, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and fenugreek). Under the froth, there were pops from the trout roe and a sweet creamy corn custard on the bottom of the bowl. An outstanding dish. The trio of fish was an ode to Japanese cuisine showcasing the integrity of the different fish. The sea bream, cooked a la plancha, was just charred on the outside of the fish and served with a piece of fried seaweed. The king mackerel was lightly marinated and dressed in a honey vinaigrette and topped with garlic. Lastly, the perch was served with pickled turnip, a fried shiso leaf, and umeboshi (pickled Japanese plum) snow. Each piece of fish was delicious and packed with intense flavor. Next, the lobster course was delicate yet so satisfying: lobster tartare with a moist cooked piece of lobster served with luscious white sesame cream and slices of tart kumquat swimming in an impeccable flavorful lobster saffron herb broth. The following course of razor clams was another explosive combination of flavors. Tender pieces of razor clams with creamy garlic aioli, fatty egg yolk, soft pieces of summer squash and garnished with squash blossoms. Amazing. The last seafood dish, the squid, was beautifully executed. Supple strands of squid wrapped in lardo (cured pork fatback) garnished with fried garlic and kale all nestled on top of velvety potato purée sitting in a heavenly broth made from ibérico ham and black truffle. So delicious. This course was served with airy squid ink chips dusted in seaweed powder, the perfect accompaniment. The only meat course of the night was the squab with plum, rhubarb, and slices of black truffles with a drizzle of foie gras fat. While I enjoyed the dish as a whole, the squab itself was slightly chewy and difficult to cut. Another dish I didn’t care for was the aloe vera with snow. I understand and appreciate the concept of it being a palate cleanser before the desserts but I didn’t enjoy the flavor or the texture of aloe vera. Besides these few criticisms, the tasting menu as a whole was a beautiful progression of flavors, textures, techniques, and creativity.
Without a doubt, Atelier Crenn has been one of the most innovative and fascinating meals I’ve ever had. This restaurant isn’t for the average person because not everyone will understand and appreciate the imagination behind each and every dish. However, if you’re more of an adventurous eater looking for a different food experience I would recommend Atelier Crenn. Therefore, my overall rating for Atelier Crenn is an 8-8.5/10.