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The Early Word On Atelier Crenn In Cow Hollow

Photo: Eater SF Flickr Pool/The DapperDiner

If you've read anything about chef Dominique Crenn’s first totally personal project, Atelier Crenn, you may know it's named in homage to her late father’s art studio or "atelier." Inside, evidence of Crenn's creative spirit is written on the walls. Actually, it's artwork by both Crenn and her father, bits of Crenn's own poetry on the menu, and most importantly a menu showcasing the unique marriage of molecular gastronomy and her intimate relationship with the Gouge-Eye Farm she’s collaborating on in Pleasant Grove. Crenn is not afraid to serve foie gras with savory meringues or cake that looks like moss. But it remains to be seen how a public that’s learned to accept the likes of this will react.

The Good News: Goingoutagain of Chowhound boldly states “there is no one cooking more interesting, personal and high-level food than this chef [in San Francisco].” Murat A. of Yelp raves “This is what is remarkable about ‘the Crenn Experience’--part theater, part culinary genius, much magic and mastery all packaged with the utmost of care and warmth, feeding stomach and soul.” [Yelp, Chowhound]

The Dessert News: Monsieur Bauer includes Crenn's "chocolate, pistachio, pear" dessert in his blog post about "particularly delicious and interesting" desserts in the Bay Area: it's "fantastical" and "kind of looks like a forest in Grimm’s Fairy Tales." Goingoutagain/Chowhound commends the coconut dessert- "we both stopped short of licking our plates, but just to appear refined.” J.W. of Yelp agrees- “seriously, if this Atelier thing doesn't work out, please, consider just setting up a food cart in Dolores Park selling that coconut dessert.” [Inside Scoop, Chowhound, Yelp]

The Service News: An Opentable diner shares- “better coordination and soothing of the customers is needed. I just felt like I was waiting for something most of the time - not a good feeling in a high class restaurant.” But Jennifer B./Yelp commended the service: “The servers are comfortable enough with the level of service that they are able to relax a bit with you and talk to you about the story of the restaurant, the inception of the food and the process of the night as though they each were part of the creation of the concept. I felt as though our server was an ambassador to the meal.” Yelper Matt W. had a totally different take on the item descriptions, saying “I was trying not to laugh when the waiter began one description with something like ‘Really, another beautiful interpretation by the chef. A late autumnal walk with her father, with texture and notes of...’ At this point the level of effort required to determine if I was ordering land, sea, or hot air made my group just want to fire and pray for glory.”[Yelp, Opentable]

The Star-Struck News: Jennifer B./Yelp recalls “the Chef came out to our table and spent time talking with us about her creative direction and checked in with each of us about how we found the meal. Although I have had this indulgence before I often feel that I am getting such attention as a result of a pressured Chef that has to go on the floor but would rather not, whereas with Chef Crenn we sorta got the feeling she was having as much fun talking with us as she does when she is back in her workshop generously creating.” [Yelp]

The Wine Program News: Elaine L. of Yelp gushed “Simply put, the sommelier kicks ass... what he does he does with the precision and accuracy of a scientist... His wine pairings rivaled what we've had at Masa's.” BunRab comments- “bold moves by the sommelier included the progression from red to white and forgoing a flute for the Louis Roederer Champagne.” BunRab continues, “ The stylistic decision not to mention vintages during the delivery of beverages had the effect of emphasizing the winemakers.” But Teddy B./Yelp warns "the wine list is insanely reasonable for a restaurant of this kind. But beware [of] the Michael Mina touch of a pairing menu that's often overloaded with Austrian Reislings and light on decent reds.[sic]"[Yelp, BunRab]

The Portion-Size News: Nocharge/Chowhound explains “there is no way their choices of two savory courses plus one dessert for 59 dollars could satisfy any but the lightest of appetites. To their credit, they made that clear to us before we ordered...big eaters should definitely go for the tasting menu.” Goingoutagain/Chowhound who opted for the 9-course option says he was “completely full, satisfied but not sick.” Teddy B. of Yelp also adds that "it's not the most filling meal. Carbohydrates are hard to come by, as the menu is dominated by a dazzling array of proteins and fats.” J.W/Yelp said the abalone is “tiny verging on hilarious” and says that “Even Coi's abalone course, as part of a 13 course menu, is more substantial.”He goes further- “this is a first for me, where the main course is actually in comparable size and quantity to the amuse bouche.”? [Chowhound, Yelp]

The Ambiance News: David D./Yelp describes the interior- “The space gave me the feel of a Japanese country house, perhaps an indication that there is some fusion of french, cal-american, and asian.” Jennifer B/Yelp adds that it’s “a minimal[ist] refuge from distraction” and as a diner you’re “offered the simplistic but clearly well-thought out musings of nature all around from the wood tables to the various greens to the understated art on the walls. You get that they are not going to try and impress you with stuff. Its about the food and they are confident in making the space just for that.[sic]” [Yelp]

The Price-Point News: Teddy B./Yelp says “it's expensive. But that's what those $$$$ signs are for. But compare this place with others of its ilk, and it measures up admirably.” [Yelp]

The Compared-to-Benu News: Nocharge/Chowhound points out that Atelier Crenn and Benu share some commonality- “Chefs with good credentials opening their own places; relatively small places without a bar serving only beer and wine...; food that is high on technique with small portions; high ambitions when it comes to service; tasting menus and a la carte options; no tablecloth.” Nocharge thinks that “Crenn's place feels more cramped but less over-the-top in terms of ambience[sic]" but “Benu comes across as a little more ambitious in vision and execution, for good and bad.” [Chowhound]

Thoughts? Additions are welcome in the comments or here , as always.?

-Eva Frye

· All Previous Atelier Crenn Coverage [~ESF~]


22 Hawthorne Street, , CA 94105 (415) 685-4860 Visit Website

Atelier Crenn

3127 Fillmore Street, , CA 94123 (415) 440-0460 Visit Website

Atelier Crenn

3127 Fillmore St. San Francisco, CA

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