San Francisco: Atelier Crenn

Chef Dominique Crenn has been awarded best female chef of 2016.

While we were in San Fran, we were able to dine at her Michelin Star restaurant, Atelier Crenn.

Of all the Michelin Star restaurants I have dined at, this is one of the most unique; and at $300 per person + tax and NOT including alcohol, it is one of the pricier ones.

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Upon seating, you’ll quickly notice a pretty, sparkly, long envelope.  Inside is the menu. Yes, the poem above is the menu.  It doesn’t tell you a whole lot, but gives you inspiring notes on what is to come.

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Spring has come with its cool breeze” refers to this Kir Breton.
It is a spherical burst of fresh cider, composed of a very delicate shell (made of white chocolate, I believe).  The cider is so refreshing, it’s indescribable. It’s not sweet like apple cider you would get at the cider mill, but like a refreshing, ice cold, apple rain drop.

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Oceanic feeling of white dust, but crunchy” is seaweed with gold foil and maple popcorn powder.
It sounds strange right?  Well, it tasted strange too.  Not a huge fan of this; the popcorn had a very distinct taste that I didn’t care for with the seaweed.

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The sea began to roll and swirl, in the exotic tide“.  Kusshi Oyster with preserved citrus.
This was good. A chilled oyster with tons of umami.

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Its whimsically ebullient red umami“-Abalone, bacon, black truffle.
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Meeting pretty pink lips, eyes so big“- Salmon, potato Mousseline, pickled ramps, Salmon roe.
The salmon was perfectly cooked, but the flavors were not exotic.
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Come with me and look into the green light“- Stew of peas, Parmesan, Mediterranean mussels.
Oh foam, how I loath thee. Remind me, what is your purpose again?
Foam or not, this dish was tasty.
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Strolling on, in the orchard“- Meyer lemon, pear, eucalyptus.
This course was super interesting.  So these eucalyptus leaves are topped with a Meyer lemon and pear concoction, and then dipped into liquid nitrogen to quickly freeze it.  It turns almost into a sorbet, but more airy.
You use the eucalyptus similar to how you use a Popsicle stick, and eat your newly created frozen lemon pear mixture off of the leaf.  It tastes the way a spa smells. Menthol-y and fresh.
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The rawness of those soft-footed creatures“-Spicy Lobster Nage (stock) with sea urchin.
What’s funny is that when we first looked at the poems, my husband and I were trying to guess what each course was going to be.  We thought for sure that by ‘soft footed creature’, they meant a woodland creature…a rabbit.  Lobster and Uni?  Very clever.
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Fresh baked bread.
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Singing, the wild bird will fly away into the smoky sky“- Smoked duck, wild berries, foie gras.
I love a good duck….this duck was perfectly cooked, and the foie was very tasty.  I am not a fan of how all the items tasted together, but individually they were superb.

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Sipping slowly on the sweetness of the earth“-Mushroom broth.
To be honest, with all these courses, I didn’t understand the point of serving the mushroom broth.  It was delicious, but there wasn’t anything unique to it that warranted a spot on this menu.

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Walking deep in the woods“- Raw cow’s milk cheese tart with shaved white truffle.
My husband and I both agreed this tasted like a mushroom pizza.  Tasted great, but slightly underwhelming. The pickled mustard seeds went spectacularly with it; great combo.

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As the earth might have something to spare“-Recreated olive.
Olive oil sorbet, if you will.  It was surprisingly very satisfying and refreshing.

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A precious token“-Above is toasted Fillo, yogurt, apple, and fennel.  Below are eggs of chestnut and sage.
I don’t remember actually liking any of the desserts.  They were all unique in taste, with glimpses of familiarity, but nothing that I recalled wanting more of.  The presentation was superb and very intricate.  All the cute little containers and garnishes are homemade and created by the pastry chef. Very innovative.

 


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Inside: Yerena Farm strawberries sorbet with pickled Rhubarb.

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Spring has come and is full of sweet surprises“.
Okay, so this was meant to look like some random shit you would find if you were gallivanting through a magic forest, and decided to lift up a log.  It was really cool looking and fun to eat!  Those blackberries you see AREN’T actually blueberries…they were a sorbet molded to LOOK like berries.  And those moldy dirt looking specs?  I believe it was crushed up graham crackers.

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Sweetness, bounty, thanks“.
The faux bee hives were cool.  I think they were some sort of meringue.  At first glance, I had presumed they were marshmallows, but as soon as you put it in your mouth and crunch down on it, it immediately dissipates on your tongue. Accompanying them are nougats.
The butterflies on the sticks below are made from sugar and dissolve in your mouth.
Again, impressive with the presentation, but taste-wise, nothing really stood out.

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Box of chocolates.  Yes, even those marble dragon egg looking things were chocolates.  The rocks, however, were not edible.
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Lastly, you get a little fruit and grain bar to take home and eat for breakfast the next day.  It tasted like an amped up Kind bar.  It was a cute gesture…I mean, who doesn’t like gifts?

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Final thoughts:
If you have 3 hours and $350/person to spend on a 15 course meal that might be the coolest visual and conceptual food, and not the best tasting food, sure…splurge.  It is definitely an experience.
If not, I wouldn’t bother.  Everything was very appealing to my eyes, but the rest of my senses were rather unimpressed.

 

 

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