Ever get so excited about something, and you just can’t handle?
Yah. That’s how I feel about Atelier Crenn.
But once you see the food pics, you’d be the same way. Trust me.
It’s like food porn on that next level sh*t.
Atelier Crenn, AKA one of the BEST restaurants in SF, has 2 Michelin Stars and is at the forefront of innovative and intricate dishes. Owner and chef, Dominique Crenn, draws influences from French cuisine while combining art and theatrics to bring forward a uniquely beautiful tasting menu.
Throughout the 2.5 hr dinner experience, you’ll see things like a shiny white pearl or a piece of chocolate that carries an uncanny resemblance to a rock.
You’ll sit there wondering if certain things are edible.
And most of the time, they are. #It’sMindblowing
The tasting menu is presented using a poem (written by owner/chef) to describe the characteristics of each dish. There are two menus at different price points. The Signature Course Menu is $140 per person (~14 tastings), and the Grand Tasting Menu is $220 per person (~22 tastings).
PS: There are only 6 restaurants in SF awarded with 2 stars this year, and only 4 restaurants in SF with 3 stars. Dominique Crenn is the first female chef in the U.S. running a 2 Michelin Stared restaurant (source: Bloomberg)
Here’s a recap of my dinner in photos, which came very close to not happening because I just wanted to stare at its sexy craftsmanship.
The first dish is a BAM- in your face kinda dish.
This amuse bouche is served with a stern warning: don’t bite it until it’s in the back of your mouth.
Once you bite it, the coco butter shell instantly crumbles, and the apple cider explodes into the back of your throat.
Pretty much, it’s like biting into a juicy tomato.
Side: They freeze the apple cider, then dip it into coco butter, then the cider melts, and the shell remains. Clever, right?
The 2nd tasting totally looks like a bully stick, but it’s actually a dehydrated and roasted stick of salsify. The small dish also comes with bits of cauliflower, white chocolate, and shaved cocoa nibs.
Above, is a couple of rice crackers stained from squid ink.
The accompanying dish is a viscous ham broth poured into a translucent Japanese fin squid. It is flavored and topped with garlic, black truffle, parsley, and squiggles of squid ink.
Next came the shimaji that was hidden beneath a layer of tempura, turnip leaves, and pickled white beet.
For a super dramatic/theatrical/cool effect, they sprinkle on a white beet snow– that melts as soon as it hits the plate.
The effect is like a fog machine (if you look very closely, you can see it).
It’s super refreshing and very cold. This dish reminds me of eating at a legit Japanese restaurant. It’s also the best tempura I’ve ever had.
In the pic above, is a piece of Alaskan King Crab sitting in a rich brown crab broth, with fennel puree, shaved celery and tarragon powder. I wish there was more than one bite to the king crab. I literally couldn’t / didn’t get enough.
The accompanying dish is a refreshing tarragon sorbet with hints of citrus. The sorbet was a nice change in taste, which complimented the king crab very well.
Next came Massachusetts scallops with pickled pear, black sesame, tahini, sea cucumber and chrysanthemum.
The waiter then pours the dashi broth in separately.
This was such an amazing sweet and savory dish. All the flavors worked really well together.
This is a cashew sorbet, topped with a pomegranate and orange sauce. It is meant as a refresher for the next couple of courses.
You gotta use those over-sized tweezers to pick it up.
Because the block is cold as hell (to keep the food at the perfect temperature for consumption).
Next came a porcini mushroom broth, with duck liver moose and red onions, served at just the right temperature. I especially loved the perfect texture of the duck egg yolk. It wasn’t runny, but perfectly cooked.
In the pic above, is a bone marrow and caviar dumpling, topped with relish, anchovies and capers. In the middle (photo), is a smoked creme fraiche and (on the right) buckwheat crackers.
It’s an interactive do-it-yourself type of course.
Add the creme fraiche and it’s better than good.
The Wagyu Beef (A5) is the best damn Wagu Beef I’ve ever had. It comes with picked mustard seeds, onions, brussels sprouts, ginger, and smoked seaweed. Overall it has a very intense flavor. The sauce is a spiced apple puree (made with apple cider).
This was my FAV dish of the night. The beef just melted with each bite, leaving me wishing there was more than four pieces.
Next is the famous carrot jerky, presented and served on a branch, after tiny garnishes are delicately placed on top. The entire process of the jerky-carrot takes a whole days work to make. No big Deal.
Watch a video on how it’s made here.
Crenn believes that salad should be served in the middle of the meal before desserts.
Here’s the salad! LOL.
It’s a meringue salad, filled with olive oil jam, a variety of herbs, lettuce and flowers.
(This is the last savory course)
Yes. Yes, it is.
And you take it like a shot.
It’s a sweet drink with pineapple, basil seed, fennel, algae, and finger limes.
Surprisingly, it went down super smooth.
Next is a crispy wafer (made from potato), flavored with matcha green tea. It’s sprinkled with sugar and salt on top.
And this is me playing with my food.
And that’s Jefferson telling me to stop.
Inside the shell is a yuzu curd (that tastes like lemon curd), with iced blue / green algae. They freeze it, then crush it.
What looks like a mussel shell is actually coconut ice cream in an edible shell made from sake leaves.
The bubbles are from a Moscato de Asti wine.
The whole thing is just kinda mind blowing to look at.
Like, I can’t believe I ate that.
Lastly, the desserts are a total treat.
Because who doesn’t love dessert?
So now you see why Atelier Crenn is one of the best restaurants in SF. Agree?
Because the food here isn’t just food. It’s art. It’s poetry. It’s science.
It’s completely mind blowing.
Each tasting was seriously spot on and there wasn’t anything I didn’t enjoy. The service was friendly, conversational and not stuffy. I especially loved the chill environment and awesome servers who went the extra mile to explain (in detail) every ingredient– sometimes they even had to spell things out for me lol.
Anyway, definitely keep it in mind for your next bday celebration, anniversary, engagement, etc. It will be a dinner you’ll remember for a lifetime.
PS: Make your ressies at least a month in advance! (There are only ~30 seats in the restaurant)