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Atelier Crenn vs. Commonwealth

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tdnyc Oct 20, 2011 08:17 AM

I understand that this is something of a last minute request for information -- thanks in advance to anyone who has thoughts to share!

We're visiting San Francisco for the weekend, and have Saturday reservations at both Crenn and Commonwealth. I understand that we're looking at two different restaurants, at two markedly different price points. Discounting the price differential, which do you recommend? We like delicious food, first and foremost. We're fairly adventurous, appreciate interesting preparations and artful presentations, and a nice environment. Many early Chowhound reviews of Crenn suggest that diners have left hungry, but it seems that this problem's been remedied recently -- true? Leaving hungry would be a problem for us. Coming from New York, we're accustomed to fine food served in casual environments, so that aspect of Commonwealth wouldn't be an issue for us, so long as servers are helpful and well informed.

Deciding between two fine restaurants is not a bad problem to have. Thanks again to anyone who might help solve it.

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Atelier Crenn
3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

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  1. farmersdaughter RE: tdnyc Oct 20, 2011 09:28 AM

    You really can't go wrong with either one. Crenn is a little more upscale in feel but I think the food, while technically brilliant, lacks soul. Commonwealth is much more convivial and the food there has a purpose and a sense of place that I find missing at Crenn. Whatever you do, I urge you to choose quickly (i.e., by this afternoon) so you can let the reservation at the other restaurant go. It's only fair to the restaurant to give them enough time to book the table that you won't be using.

    2 Replies
    1. re: farmersdaughter
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      budnball RE: farmersdaughter Oct 20, 2011 11:09 AM

      I would agree with FarmersD.. Commonwealth is more about a comfortable experience for the dinner, where as Atelier Crenn is more about the the "Food as Theatre" experience. Both are good. Crenn is more of a one time spulge, where as C'wealth is a regular returnable place.

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      Atelier Crenn
      3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

      1. re: budnball
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        tdnyc RE: budnball Oct 20, 2011 11:16 AM

        thanks for your thoughts! and fret not, farmersdaughter, we'll be sure to cancel immediately.

    2. Windy RE: tdnyc Oct 20, 2011 05:13 PM

      Crenn is exceptional. You don't have to get the tasting menu, which continues to climb in price. We got 4 different courses each (in April) and were delighted with nearly all and not hungry.

      I enjoyed Commonwealth very much, especially the wine service and service in general, but it's not in the same caliber as Crenn. If you get the tasting menu at Commonwealth, you might as well have gone to Crenn.

      And agree with Farmersdaughter about releasing one of your Saturday reservations. These are small restaurants, struggling in a tough economy. It's Thursday night.

      1. j
        johnq RE: tdnyc Oct 20, 2011 10:24 PM

        I completely agree that you should give up one of the two reservations, since it's basic courtesy to do so. It probably matters a lot more to Commonwealth than Atelier Crenn, however. Commonwealth is relatively heavily booked on Saturday, at least on OpenTable, whereas Atelier Crenn is wide open for both Friday and Saturday.

        Atelier Crenn isn't my thing, exactly, but I'd hate to see the place die. Right now it's beginning to look like that. A high end restaurant that as of Thursday night has complete availability for both weekend nights is a restaurant that's in trouble. And this isn't the first time I've noticed this. My impression is you could walk straight in without a reservation on any night of the week and be fairly certain of being immediately seated.

        So if you can't make up your mind in any other way, maybe you should consider choosing Atelier Crenn. They need the business a lot more than Commonwealth does. And Commonwealth will probably be there the next time you come through town. I'm not sure Atelier Crenn will be.

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        Atelier Crenn
        3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

        1. m
          mscott1124 RE: tdnyc Oct 21, 2011 08:32 PM

          If price isn't part of the equation, I would without a doubt pick Atelier Crenn. Although I didn't think the food was spectacular (which I'd say also about Commonwealth), I think it's one of the most unique dining experiences I've ever had. The creations the chefs there (including the pastry chef) make from food are really quite remarkable. For my taste, they're over the top. But I eat out a lot and doubt there's much like it anywhere. Commonwealth is fine, but I think you could probably find equally good and creative food in many places here and elsewhere.

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          Atelier Crenn
          3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

          2 Replies
          1. re: mscott1124
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            tdnyc RE: mscott1124 Oct 31, 2011 11:33 AM

            Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. We opted for Commonwealth, largely because we didn't think we'd be up for an hours-long dining event after a day of sightseeing, and were happy with our decision. The meal wasn't mindblowing or revelatory, but solid, and a fine value for what it was. If I had to offer a criticism, it would be that there were elements of a couple dishes that were out of balance -- the padron peppers in the farm egg dish overwhelmed with spice, as did a kimchee puree that dotted the plate of uni.

            Chowhound also helped steer us to Canteen, where we enjoyed excellent brunch -- the Chupacabra is pretty much everything I could want in a breakfast dish.

            We so enjoyed our lunch at Il Cane Rosso we went twice. Great, fresh, inexpensive sandwiches and salads. Our lone SF food dud was a stop for a light bite at Bocadillos. Any tapas restaurant that trots out such a sorry excuse for pan con tomate should be shuttered immediately. The highlight there was a plate of oversalted squid in mojo a la plancha.

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            Bocadillos
            710 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94111

            Il Cane Rosso
            1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94105

            1. re: tdnyc
              b
              budnball RE: tdnyc Oct 31, 2011 11:46 AM

              Thanx for report back.

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