While the brasserie will be part of the hotel property, Crenn promises it will not be "just another hotel restaurant." The 100-year-old hotel, which was recently acquired by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, has undergone an extensive renovation, including the upgrade of their restaurants. Crenn has signed a deal to "curate" a restaurant (in the former Paragon space) on the property, meaning that although it will be operated by the hotel, it will be her vision from start to finish— that includes hiring the chef and team to execute that vision and working closely with them along the way as a consultant. And in keeping with her vision, the name Antoinette is a tribute to the strong women of France as well as a nod to the luxury-loving French queen, Marie Antoinette.
"I want to bring the beauty and elegance of a brasserie back to what it should be," said Crenn. "A true brasserie is all about hospitality."
The concept will be "elegant, but casual," in the style of a French brasserie, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Seafood and vegetable dishes will be the emphasis, though meat will be included; ingredients will be sourced as locally as possible, including baked goods from a local bakery. Many dishes will be designed to share, like a whole roasted fish or côte de boeuf with a wide variety of options for sides. Petit Crenn wine director Courtney Humiston will consult on the beverages, which will be composed of French and California wines, heavy on the Champagne; cocktails will skew classic.
Part of what attracted Crenn to the project is the history of Berkeley's dining scene, and the opportunity to be part of a revival of sorts. "I love Berkeley," said Crenn. "This is where it all started, with Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. I want to be part of something special." That includes making hotel dining elegant again, something European hotels have been accomplishing for years but is distinctly lacking in America. "It is challenging to come into a place that's been around a long time." said Crenn. "But, I love a challenge."
Expect an opening sometime in early 2016; stay tuned for more details.