Chef Dominique Crenn is creating an empire of restaurants here in San Francisco.
With already two successful restaurants under her belt, Atelier Crenn (two Michelin starred restaurant) and Petit Crenn (French bistro), her newest addition is a cozy intimate wine bar called Bar Crenn. Bar Crenn is adjacent to Atelier Crenn in the Marina district and oozes sophistication where the ambience is reminiscent of a 1930’s Parisian salon. Next to the lounge area, you’ll find the bar with counter seating.
The vision of Bar Crenn is to showcase famous French dishes from notable French chefs such as Guy Savoy, Alain Ducasse, Eric Fréchon, and Paul Bocuse, just to name a few. They offer three menus; a caviar tasting menu, carte blanche (three course tasting menu where you could add more dishes), and à la carte. We opted for the à la carte menu where the selection is small so we ordered the majority of the dishes featured.
I could have easily eaten the whole thing to myself! Crispy warm flatbread had a thin veil of gooey Comté cheese with bacon lardons and fresh chives. Simple yet perfectly executed.
I’m a huge fan of pâté and this was beautifully crafted. The meaty filling was flavorful and the crust was chewy and crispy. The whole grain mustard added that pungent sharpness and the cornichons added tartness. While I did enjoy this, the pâté en croûte I had last month at Tomy & Co. in Paris was slightly better.
Asparagus season is in full swing! Pretty much every restaurant I’ve been dining at has had asparagus on the menu and I’m loving it. Perfectly blanched asparagus were coated in the most luxurious sauce mousseline (an egg and whipped cream based sauce flavored with lemon, a derivative of Hollandaise). Underneath the asparagus was almost a decadent truffle emulsion that paired brilliantly with the sauce mousseline.
If you’ve dined at Atelier Crenn recently then you’ve had this impeccable bread and butter course. When I dined there a few years ago, I had brioche rolls with normal butter which was great but this was on a whole other level. The whipped beef fat just melted on the warm buttery brioche…heaven on earth.
The salmon fillet was coated in a fish mousseline with egg whites so when cooked, the mousseline rises and creates that “soufflé” appearance. The salmon was cooked perfectly, flaky with a slightly pink center, and the fish mousseline was airy and light. The tomato compote added sweetness and acidity and the beurre blanc sauce was luscious and rich. A beautiful dish.
Last month when I was in Lyon I had this quintessential Lyonnaise dish and this was a much more refined version of that traditional dish. The quenelles were made from cod and rockfish and transformed into delicate fish dumplings that were light as air. The tender quenelles were coated in a heavenly sauce called Nantua, a crawfish flavored sauce with cream. Succulent pieces of crawfish also garnished the plate. Simply superb.
We tried all the desserts offered that night and each was delicious. The showstopper was the Paris-Brest, a traditional French dessert made from choux pastry filled with a praline flavored cream. Their version was flavored with pistachios and almost had a savory quality with salt nuances that really harmonized with the overall sweetness of the dessert. The canelé de Bordeaux had a wonderful caramelized exterior while the inside was moist with flavors of Tahitian vanilla and spiced rum. Lastly, the mini earl grey chocolates were a great way to end the meal.
There were a few dishes on the à la carte menu that we didn’t try. We didn’t order either of the caviar dishes since they were pricey but if budget isn’t an issue then ball out! They also had raw oysters which sounded delicious but I had numerous oysters the day before so I wasn’t in the mood for them. Another small dish was a variety of deviled eggs but I’m not an egg fan so I skipped that. Lastly, the chicken dish with morels was another dish that sounded fantastic but would have been too much food if we ordered it.
Every dish we tried was executed well and beautifully presented where you can see how much care and attention to detail there is. Flavors were spot on and made me want to try more of their dishes. Even though the food was great, the prices were definitely on the steep side and portions are smaller than most places. However if those factors aren’t a deal breaker, you should visit Bar Crenn for iconic French classics. Therefore my rating is a 8.5/10.