I'm sorry...I think I jumped the dining shark
Maybe it was the day, maybe I was tired of eating out after being on vacation for 10 days already (*sob I know*) but I had the tasting menu at atelier crenn last week and I felt...sad at the end. The food wasn't bad. The service was lovely. The chef was charming and kind of like an approachable rock star. But nearly every course of the 14 courses felt hollow. They described everything very nicely and I would put a salty/fatty/sweet something in my mouth and have no idea what I was actually supposed to be eating. For the most part. There were a couple of dishes that I felt like I understood - the "onion soup" part. This isn't my first tasting menu experience. I've eaten at Per Se in new york, french laundry a long time ago, gary danko... but this is the first time I felt this way. Not sure if it was me or the restaurant. It wasn't that I was hungry at the end, far from it, but I was far from sated emotionally. I'm wondering if it was me so this might be the last time in a long while that I drop that amount of money on that kind of experience. Has anyone else felt that way? perhaps this belongs in general topics instead, but I put it here if anyone feels the same about the restaurant as it depresses me to think it was me instead. All of the reviews I found here and the michelin star indicate it may be me but perhaps I am not alone?
As someone who tries to write carefully about my eating experiences, there's an art to figuring out when "sometimes it's me".
That feeling that "it just didn't come together", a particular feeling of out-of-sorts --- give yourself some space, take a little time out, eat simple foods, it'll come back.
I felt that way after eating at Aramburu in Buenos Aires a few weeks ago. The food was pretty, the service was pleasant enough, and the food lacked soul.
I felt that way about Atelier Crenn and The French Laundry, but I don't think it's that I'm burned out after years of destination dining. Just last week I was wowed by the Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, and to a slightly lesser degree at Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernadin.
I'm sure my standards have changed: I thought my first experience at Alinea, when I hadn't been to as many Michelin starred places, was much more amazing than the meal I had a few months ago. But there's always something new that surprises me: like the underground Sous Rising dinner I had the night after Alinea (soon to become a full restaurant). More likely is just that we enjoy some places more than others.
kayo - was it your last night of vacation? that night (esp at the end of a long break) is usually best saved for trashy comfort foods. it's always bittersweet. I'm always conflicted between "NO I wanna stay!" and "oh crap can we just wrap this up already and pour me onto the plane?"
I've never been to Atelier Crenn, so I have no business saying boo on this thread. But I do think it's important to respect a diversity of aesthetics around food.
I am drawn to unpretentious, ingredient-as-opposed-to-concept-or-technique driven fare (I always say it's my "mill-town-girl" origins--or the influence of a mother for whom the worst thing in the world was being "ungepatchked"--Yiddish for fussy).
If you offered to take me to dinner, I'd likely pick Chez Panisse or Frances, rather than Commis or Atelier Crenn. There's many a food-lover who'd do just the opposite (Reader, I married him....).
The main thing: you shouldn't second-guess or feel bad about your "take." Michelin gave Atelier Crenn a star. But you're not Michelin.