Twice, Crenn and pastry chef Juan Contreras smoothed over some of the frustration with two spectacular desserts (a $10 supplement if you're getting the three-course dinner, but included in the five- and 10-course meals). The first, "Textures of Coconut," resembled a snow drift, white swirls of coconut mousse sprinkled with mint granita. Exploring what lay underneath the drift was like opening one of the drawers at 826 Valencia. Would I uncover freeze-dried coconut? Cardamom gelées? Kalamansi lime sorbet? Each spoonful pulled out a new prize. Even more astonishing was a Chinese miniature landscape of rocks and lichens. It was sculpted out of frozen ganache, airy pistachio cake, pear sherbet, and pistachio-purée vines. A dozen different components combined in new ways with each bite, the thrill crescendoing as I burrowed down through the boulders to the cocoa soil.

Given the attentiveness of the servers, the meal's many delays seemed to come from the kitchen. Since Crenn doesn't increase portion sizes for diners who pick the smaller, less expensive prix-fixe meal, those long intervals made hunger flare again. I'm no Falstaff, but my $130-a-person, four-course, two-and-a-half-hour meals both ended in a post-meal sandwich.

The chef creates the illusion of an actual garden with this salad.
Kimberly Sandie
The chef creates the illusion of an actual garden with this salad.

Location Info

Map

Atelier Crenn

3127 Fillmore
San Francisco, CA 94123

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: Marina/ Cow Hollow

Details

Atelier Crenn
3127 Fillmore (at Filbert), 440-0460, www.ateliercrenn.com. Hours: 6-10 p.m. Tue.-Sat. Muni: 22, 28, 43, 76.

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As he struggled to cut a slice of char off a mist-wrapped rock, one of my friends murmured, "I'm not sure if this place is a gallery or a restaurant." The same question weighed on me. A gallery — an atelier — is supposed to provoke, inspire, energize; a restaurant to welcome and restore. There are few chefs in the country composing dishes as lyrical and intellectually engaging as Dominique Crenn. But her restaurant doesn't serve dinner: It serves a performance. Is there a way for it to do both, I wonder?

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6 comments
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Enjoys Delectable Surprises
Enjoys Delectable Surprises

Can't help but notice the drastic editing in headlines between your Web article and its printed version in the Weekly?!!? Why?J. Kauffmann must be looking for a desperate scoop (... a bit late, dare I pinpoint!), added readership (missed on that to) AND self-acknowledgement: NONE of which he will get from us!Sad to see that a food critic can be as "blasé" as this.

Unfortunately, some will take his uneducated, unimaginative verbage as gospel,while the educated, innovative, imaginative, adventuresome palates will only want to check this delightful, unusual, savory, surprising and rewarding journey all the fastest!However this journey is only bestowed upon the one who is ready to let go of preconceived ideas upon passing the "Atelier Crenn" threshold to trust his experience and let himself guided thru Crenn's "Poetic Culinary".J. Kauffmann... you missed out!

Joe Smith
Joe Smith

this international cuisine which permeates the landscape today all over the world . see peligrino top 50 these plates look quite the same ..but if you have not been to spain, copenhagen, new york, chicago, london, etc etc etc etc...the good thing is you don't have to travel far to have the same sweet manipulated crap...

Emlou014
Emlou014

Dining at Atelier Crenn was a night to remember! I thought that ever dish that came out was nothing short of an art piece, and had the bold beautiful flavors to match. I was impressed by every bit and the unique flavor combinations were amazing. Its now at the top of my list!!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Atelier Crenn brings show-stopping food full of whimsy and character, but also packs unique and inventive twists! The food is unforgettable, every bite is a new flavor profile, everyone needs to stop in experience all of the wonderful things this restaurant has to offer!

Stanbee
Stanbee

Kaufmann be damned, she's very creative, poetic and brave about ingredients, seasonings. What would be expected at in an Atelier?

Glad this critic isnt giving out the Michelin stars. The wait beteen courses at this very new venue does sound too loong.

There is or can be art in everything. Tiresome, critics writing they didn't have enough art to eat in fine exspenive restaurants.

Never had a portion problem at Luce either.

Stanbee
Stanbee

help! No edit button exspensive, Michellin.

 
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