It’s been an absolute dream of mine to dine at Atelier Crenn (3127 Fillmore St.) and I felt incredibly lucky to be able to celebrate my birthday there last month. If you have not seen Netflix’s Chef’s Table (Season 2, Episode 3), stop and watch it immediately (full disclosure: you may cry). You’ll be taken on an incredible journey learning more about Chef Dominique Crenn, what inspires her cooking and all the effort that goes into maintaining her restaurants. Chef Dominque Crenn is the first female chef in the U.S. to earn two Michelin stars and it is well earned. Each dish is a feast for your eyes, as much as it is for your stomach, and the service is impeccable.
The meal starts with a poem, which is your narrative for the night’s menu. All guests are welcomed with their first bite, chef’s take on a Kir Breton. White cocoa butter surrounds a sphere of apple cider and it’s topped with crème de cassis. Chef Dominique’s Bretagne roots really shine throughout the night as there were a lot of seafood courses. Her take on fish and chips were fried potato chips dusted with seaweed and served with swordfish marrow in a cucumber sauce. I really loved her tomato memory (watch the Netflix episode and you’ll understand the reference), which were small tarts filled with tomato compote and roe. On the side, different peeled tomatoes were served with tomato dust and tomato raisins. One of my favorite dishes of the night was Japanese-inspired. Delicate uni is served over toasted Japanese rice mixed with seaweed and sesame seeds. What truly elevated this dish was the white wine, shallot and fennel broth. The sauce was so clear and flavorful.
Next came caviar with rice cream and shiso leaf oil, served with delicate root vegetables. The homemade brioche bread with A5 wagyu beef fat butter and herbed butter is the definition of decadence. I had to refrain from devouring the whole loaf so that there’d be room for the rest of the courses. Grilled abalone (not pictured) came with egg yolk jam, seaweed dusting and grilled oyster cream. The abalone was so tender and the waiter let us in on the secret– beating the abalone for 30 minutes to an hour.
What really impressed me about Atelier Crenn was how simple looking dishes could have so much flavor and require multiple cooking techniques. For example, the foraging mushroom course had a parmesan custard with pine nuts and grilled mushrooms, which had the consistency of meat. Carefully shaved mushrooms were mixed with foie gras and lemon, which lent a brightness to the dish.
While the whole dinner was amazing, my favorite dish was the main entrée, A5 Wagyu beef from Japan with carrot gelée and chicken jus. The beef was tender and melted in your mouth and the chicken jus helped cut the fattiness of the meat. The last savory course was a fermented Vermont cheese tart in a sourdough shell and topped with shaved truffle.
Dessert also did not fail to impress. The theme was Mayan and we were served interesting flavor combinations like avocado and lime truffle with a cactus refresher. I couldn’t believe how creative the desserts were like the corn sandwich with corn marshmallow, corn tuille and a white chocolate medallion. Or, tobacco crisps served with vanilla crème anglaise and agave leaf with coconut mousse.
Atelier Crenn was a meal and a birthday that I’ll remember forever. I had high expectations and it did not disappoint. If you’re looking for a restaurant to celebrate a special occasion, I can’t recommend Atelier Crenn enough. Also, stop reading this blog post and go watch Dominique Crenn’s Netflix episode!