The Kauff can't deny the aesthetic appeal of many dishes at Atelier Crenn, but he ends his "$130-a-person, four-course, two-and-a-half-hour meal...in a post-meal sandwich" every time. After some "exquisite" things and some "jarring" ones, Kauff concludes:
"Terrence Malick films and Orhan Pamuk novels have the same mixed appeal, which doesn't stop me from devouring as much as those artists can produce. But I think, for Atelier Crenn to succeed artistically, the chef will have to resolve how to balance her food-as-art intentions with the food-as-meal expectations of patrons."[SF Weekly]
Across town, Bauer slams another very personal project, Matt Straus' Heirloom Cafe. He said it was close to three star food in his July review, but things have taken a turn for the worse. Upon entrance, the hostess negates his seat request and then he notices the price of the nightly fixed price menu has risen "from $50, including two glasses of wine, to $75, including three glasses - one of which is a small pour of dessert wine." But the bigger issue is "both the service and the cooking seemed somewhat amateurish." The rating is deducted from 2.5 to 2 stars. [Chron]
But Reidinger is doing all right! He calls 13-year-old Charanga "not only a survivor but a pioneer in what is pretty routinely called today 'pan-Latin' or 'nuevo Latino' cooking." In short "The interior is nice-looking in a relaxed way, and the food is wonderful" He eats "vaguely" Asiatic Puerto Viejo shrimp, an "earthy" stew of rice and beans mixed with crackling pork, the signature pachanga and much more, noting chef/owner Gabriela Salas is almost always at the restaurant: "Nothing can adequately replace this presence; as with butter, there are work-arounds but no real substitutes." [SFBG]
The Elsewhere: The Marin IJ calls "every bite an adventure" at Plate Shop in Sausalito, EBX finds Oakland's Homeroom "cheap and chic" though noisy, The Merc says Pleasanton's Forno Vecchio had potential, Bar Bites calls Berkeley's Corso "cozy and quaint," and the second Datebook review is a good one, of eVe in Berkeley: 2 stars.
[Photo: Morgan's Hotel Group]