Atelier Crenn is a small restaurant with only 8 tables. It’s been several years (pre Frankie site) since we were there and since then Chef Dominique Crenn has become the first female chef in the U.S to attain a 3 star Michelin rating. It is a warm setting with paintings by chef’s father Allain decorating the walls. They re-modeled 2 years ago and now round polished wood tables are set off with dampened lighting and music playing softly in the background. The presence from the street is very discreet with no name, just the number marking the place. They have 2 seatings for a multi course tasting menu, for which wine pairings are offered. The evening we were there it was a spring menu that featured many items now grown on their own farm and locally sourced other ingredients. Dishes are complex yet simple with a depth of flavor and texture in each dish that is amazing. Many had a tableside finish that was a nice show and added to the information about the dish. A poem greets you at the table with each line symbolizing a part of the meal to come. Afterward you are presented with a summary of your courses. Service is friendly and helpful and pacing and portion control of the meal are good. Chef Crenn did come out and greet each of her guests and allowed time for a bit of conversation.
A traditional start to the meal is a Kir Breton, something that reflects on the chef’s home life, and the only real similarity to courses in past years. It is a white chocolate wrapper filled with apple juice flavored with Crème de cassis inside. It is a lovely combination of flavors with a nice burst of liquid in your mouth.
Rocky Point Oyster and Rosé is a Rocky Point oyster topped with a shell created from rosé wine. A very nice pairing with the delicate oyster.
Geoduck (clam), Sea Urchin and Citrus is presented in a dome that fills with smoke when opened. It is a tartlet with sea urchin topped with the clam and then finished with a citrus cream. The crisp, delicate crust contrasts nicely with the soft urchin and chewy clam. The citrus flavor is a wonderful pairing with the seafood for a terrific combination of textures and tastes.
Dungeness Crab, Seaweed and Whey is finished tableside with the whey emulsion and paired with a cup of broth made from the shells of the crab, ginger and coconut oil. The sweet crab is paired with dried gooseberries and sea grapes. The ingredients make a terrific combination, especially with the sweet bits of fruit. The ginger and coconut spark the broth to the level of delicious. A great course.
Seeds and Grains is a combination of dark wheat, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, smoked trout roe, pumpkin seed oil, marigold-clove oil all topped with browned butter and wildflowers, assembled tableside. This dish had tons of flavors and textures – smoke, the pop of the trout roe, crunch of the seeds. It was interesting, fun and really good.
Reserve White Sturgeon and Koji was simple in its presentation. The caviar was from Oregon and paired with rice cream and smoked gel from shiso oil. It was served with crisp small crepes that were perfect to pair with a dab of each ingredient. The crepes were delicious and delicate and went perfectly with the fruit, cream and caviar. Wonderful.
Brioche and House-cultured Butter was a good sized loaf of brioche. It was soft and buttery on its own but served with a house made and seasoned butter that was nice, but hard to follow the wow factor of caviar.
Abalone, Cabbage and Smoke Créme was made on the yakitori barbecue and topped with a Napa Cabbage leaf that was dehydrated. Some smoked creme fraiche with parsley oil and dehydrated mustard seeds made a sauce and a bit of sauerkraut also from Napa Cabbage was in the dish. The abalone was from Monterey, CA. and incredibly tender. The sauerkraut added a bit of tartness to the dish that worked really well. It was probably the best abalone I’ve ever had.
Black Cod and Coastal Greens came with your selection of a special knife, all of which were made for the restaurant. Trust me, though, no knife was needed for this finely prepared fish. The moist chunk of fish was in a miso walnut spread with a red onion glaze and finished with vinaigrette made with walnut oil. The vinaigrette melted into the delicious fish but did not add a vinegar taste, instead it brightened the flavor of all it was with. Another total winner.
The Smoked Cod was with Celery and Mussels. Some mussel shavings were on top of the black cod mixed with cream and potatoes. This was a dish of smoothness and full of smokey, rich flavor. Yum.
The rest of the cod was made into a Bouillon called cod tea and mixed with dehydrated flowers at the table. It was full of flavor and good but I liked the crab broth better.
Metronome (goat’s milk cheese) and Concorde Pear made up a cheese course and were served with a multi-barley bread. The cheese was good and went well with the excellent pear. The greens gave it more color but I couldn’t decide if I thought they added anything, however they were cut fresh from the plant at the table. The bread had lots of texture and heft and held up well with the other strong flavors, but the pear was the best part.
Eucalyptus was a popsicle on a eucalyptus branch and served as a palate cleanser. It was creamy and tasty and supplemented by the aroma of the sticky, non-edible leaves. It was good.
Citrus and Vanilla was the dessert in the form of an orange ball. The shell was made of cocoa butter and filled with orange blossom ice cream. It was light with filled with various textures and tastes. It was not overly sweet but still quite satisfying.
Mignardises were a chocolate with pistachio ganache (left), a passion fruit, nut and white chocolate (middle) and a chocolate filled with soft praline caramel (right). All were nice but the praline caramel was my favorite.
We were sent home with a copy of the evening’s menu and a delicious nut, seed bar along with a copy of one of the paintings. A perfect end to a wonderful evening.