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Atelier Crenn - Spring, 2013 [San Francisco]

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Seems this is becoming the place my fiance and I take each other for our collective birthday dinners each year (I took him for the first time last year, and he brought me this year). Lovely as always...

"Spring has come wit its cool breeze"
Kir Breton - amuse with cocoa butter shell filled with apple cider.

Smoked buckwheat cracker as a palate cleanser

"Where the broad ocean leans against the Spanish land"
Squid cured in milk with lardo and black truffle. Paired with Ryme Las Brisas, Carneros, Vermintino, 2012.

"A gentle smell, oceanic, of yummy feeling"
Shashimi of Aji with Thai flavors with turnip tempura paired with Chignin Bergeron au Pied de Tours Viognier (probably my favorite wine of the evening).

"Mellow serenades of colors licorice and orange"
Sea urchin torchon with bubbles of yuzu, puree of sunchoke, chilled licorice root paired with Le Mont Domaine Huet Vouvre, 2011. In this case, the orange was wholly and entirely created in the pairing of the finish of the wine. Exquisite.

"Sitting on top of the dune, feeling of beach sand under my toes"
Shellfish bisque with razor clams, manilla clams, Prince Edward Island mussels, sweetbreads, and tomato. With a 2010, Willamette Chardonnay from J.K. Carriere. The tomato was in the form of a foam and it was the sweetbreads that elevated this dish.

"the half moon, silky and smoky"
Deconstructed French onion soup with a dumpling of Comte cheese, caramelized onion broth, and a hint of apple cider vinegar, paired with Lustau Almacenista Sherry. Great pairing for a redolent and rich course.

"Woody and stone,"
A palate cleanser in the shape of a black rock - actually cocoa rubbed with vegetable ash containing rhubarb consomme, sitting atop a wafer or rhubarb which looked like a sheet of wood. Very inventive.

"Nature rejoice, chasing childhood memories"
Grains and seeds - quinoa, buckwheat, various seeds all mixed with sturgeon and trout roe, presented with a poured-at-the-table dashi broth. Paired with Tenfelweizen from Divine Brewing in Sonoma.
"Walking deep in the woods, as the snow might have something to spare:

"Birth which gives its morning mystery"
The ubiquitous mushroom course which I adore - various mushrooms presented with pine-scented meringue, pickles, hazelnuts, and nasturtiums. Paired with a Drew Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, 2011.

"Spring... Where birds sing and are causing ripples in the nearby water"
Duck consomme with a cornsilk nest and twigs of porcini, rice, and chocolate. The plate also boasted dots of duck fat and port wine, the combination of which was paired with Sottimano Mate 2012 Marchetto.

"Dotting the fragrant flora"
Smoked squab with turnip, kumquats, daikon and raspberries paired with Parador Reserva, 2001 (80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon). Lovely wine, the only course that didn't wow me with the squab a bit on the tough side.

We opted for a cheese course that was served with chickpea naan and a Rare Wine Madeira from NY Malmsey.

Eucalyptus and menthol popsicles.

"Spring has come and full of sweet surprises"
Dessert was a new presentation of a horizontally-cut wine bottle with "Crenn" etched in the next. The waiter removed the wax "cork" and cut the top (as in cutting the coil of a cork) with an elegant Cuban cigar cutter, and poured Banyuls over a selection of "grapes." Some of the "grapes" were - in fact - hazelnut ice cream, but there was also a foam of Churchil grapes, a miniature baguette with sultana, and grape flavors. Lovely finish.

Mignardise included lavendar caramels, pate de fruits, and more.

Chef Crenn is using a bit more of the earthy pine aromas and flavors than she has in the past, but it does not overwhelm. Still my favorite restaurant in the city...

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