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Take a Look at Petit Crenn, Now Open in Hayes Valley

The menu is family-style, inspired by the cooking of Crenn's mother and grandmother.

Petit Crenn, the casual, dinner party-style restaurant from powerhouse Dominique Crenn, opens tonight in Hayes Valley. And while the food is as high-quality as one would expect from a two-Michelin-starred chef, it's a big leap from the food served at Crenn's flagship, Atelier Crenn.

The menu is a daily-changing, five-course prix fixe for $72, and is a reflection of Crenn's upbringing in Northern France. And in a shift from the protein-heavy menus that continue to dominate the San Francisco dining scene, the focus is on fresh seafood and vegetables only, incorporating dishes like a whole trout roasted over a wood-fired grill with cider sabayon and cabbage with charred scallions. Salad and cheese are served after the entrees, in true French fashion. Aaron Thayer, formerly a sous chef at Atelier Crenn, will run the kitchen.

Crenn says "It's going to be like a big dinner party," with diners passing food and serving themselves from a selection of carefully selected platters, some of which the team picked up at the Alameda Flea Market. Wine director Courtney Humiston (Dry Creek Kitchen) has put together a wine list focused on natural French wines, rosé and champagne (Dominique's favorite). In keeping with the Breton theme, there is also a selection of ciders, to be served in special handmade ceramic mugs.

The space itself has changed quite a bit since its former life as colorful Bar Jules, now featuring white walls and artwork, with tableware to match.The simple, minimalist environment allows the dishes to pop, according to Crenn.

There are two seatings nightly, at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., for which reservations are recommended, though diners can pop in to dine a la carte at the ten seat bar.

Breakfast will start at 7 a.m., offering a French breakfast of tartines, fresh breads with marmalades and preserves, cheese, coffee and fresh juices. Lunch will be light, with French fare like salads, tartines and sandwiches until 4 p.m.; the bar will open at 5:30 p.m, offering oysters and a la carte items to walk-ins.