San Francisco Magazine’s lucid but less-frequently published Josh Sens brings us the latest critical review of Bar Crenn. While other critics were split on the value of the swanky food, Sens believes Dominique Crenn’s third restaurant is best understood as “a missing link” between “bistro-style” Petit Crenn and the “two-Michelin-star art project” Atelier Crenn next door. At Bar Crenn, the food is as unapologetically rich and delicious as the surroundings, Sens notes, and the lobster-and-crayfish sauce has “enough butter in it to slow the Seine.” Among the “short list of greatest hits from Gallic giants of gastronomy,” Sens highlights Guy Savoy’s iced poached oysters, Sylvestre Wahid’s croquettes fried in pork fat and the “trés chic” eggshells filled with bone marrow custard that will undoubtedly dominate Bar Crenn’s Instagram location tag.
The setting, which requires some folks to awkwardly dine over coffee tables, “favors fashion over function,” Sens says, but the bar itself is a “plenty stylish” place from which to pick through must-order items like Arnaud Lallement’s potée de cochon that “wows with every spoonful” and Crenn’s signature brioche with whipped beef fat. Three stars.
The Black Cat
In the controversy-stirring wake of the Chronicle’s Top 100 release, Michael Bauer floated an update review for the Tenderloin cocktails-and-jazz destination, the Black Cat. On the first round, Bauer loved the decor, the drinks and the music, but he was put off by the one and a half star food. After eighteen months of tweaks, the Black Cat’s kitchen has picked up a star, making it a legitimately romantic supper club. The “eclectic” menu by Tu David Phu and Robert Hurtado is only a month old, but Bauer’s highlights include “pleasingly caramelized” chicken skewers, a “generous” bowl of mussels and a sirloin banh mi that “hits all the right notes.” Service has also smoothed out, just be aware there’s an entertainment charge and minimum tabs on the weekends. Two and a half stars.
For the Weekly, Pete Kane followed kitchen whiz J. Kenji Lopez-Alt to San Mateo to see how his Food Lab science holds up in the form of a family-friendly beer hall and sausage factory. The “chemistry-set sensibility” works, Kane says, and by allowing the restaurant to sidestep the “faux-Neanderthal bravado” you might expect from a gastropub. The Sheboygan — a gameday baseball favorite — was an assertive “sleeper hit,” the Cajun was “plenty hot” and the Hot Italian swept Kane away to a place of “caraway-studded” sausage memories. Tubesteaks aside, there’s an Epi-style pretzel, a bleeding vegan Impossible Döner Kebap and roasted bone marrow to keep things interesting. While the bierhaus service can be chaotic and the decor won’t impress anyone, the quality is high and the food is consistent.
dosa by DOSA
Although the owners would like you to know there’s more to dosa by Dosa than just the namesake crepes, East Bay Express critic Janelle Bitker wants to make sure you order one — along with pretty much everything else your group can fit on the table. Boasting “an unusually large variety” for a counter-service shop, the restaurant is also “the most visually stunning fast-casual restaurant” she’s seen in the Bay Area, making it “hip enough for date night” but low-key enough for takeout.
If you just drop by for drinks and small plates, Bitker recommends the “glorious” Chennai fried chicken, the “explosive” flavor of the tamil lamb curry, or the “luscious” housemade paneer. With don’t-miss desserts and a beverage lineup that includes “devilishly fun” slushies, “spice-driven” cocktails, grab-and-go lassis yogurt drinks, and an “infinitely more delicious” masala chai than you’ll find in a coffeehouse, the restaurant proves it is capable of far more than just street food.
- At Her New Bar, Dominique Crenn Doubles Down on French Classics—and Butter [San Francisco Magazine]
- Have a Sausage Party at Wursthall [SF Weekly]
- dosa by DOSA Redefines the Fast-Casual Restaurant with Sleek Design, Bountiful Menu [East Bay Express]