Dominique Crenn, San Francisco’s world-beating, recently triple-Michelin-spangled French chef, won’t be serving meat anymore at any of her restaurants — at least none of the land-based meats.
In a press release sent out early this morning, Crenn announced that, as of October 1, her three existing San Francisco restaurants — along with her forthcoming Salesforce Tower project, Boutique Crenn — would now focus exclusively on seafood and vegetables, citing the chef’s desire to “effect real environmental change.” “Meat is insanely complicated—both within the food system and the environment as a whole—and, honestly, it felt easier to just remove it from the menus all together,” the chef said in the release.
The announcement appears only to formalize what the Crenn Dining Group has already been doing: According to the press release, the flagship Atelier Crenn has been meat-free for almost two years: At the beginning of 2018, the chef decided to no longer include any meat courses on the tasting menu — though, per a Chron review that ran that summer, meat-based ingredients like whipped duck fat were still used as an “accent” for some time. Petit Crenn, the chef’s Hayes Valley bistro, has never served land-based meat. At her newest restaurant, Bar Crenn, the evolution has taken a little bit longer — given the theme of reproducing classic dishes of famous French chefs, early menus featured plenty of pig trotters and tarte flambee studded with pancetta. But at Bar Crenn, too, pork and beef have gone by the wayside since the beginning of October.
The Bay Area has a strong tradition of vegetable-centric cuisine, with Napa Valley’s now-shuttered, Michelin-starred vegetarian tasting menu spot Ubuntu as perhaps the most influential pioneer of the genre in the fine-dining realm. And several of the trendiest, most prominent restaurants in San Francisco today are really leaning into a stronger focus on vegetables and seafood: AL’s Place, from Ubuntu alum Aaron London, where meat is treated as more of a side dish; and Angler, with its emphasis on sustainable seafood. Thus far, though, none of the local fine-dining chefs of Crenn’s prominence and stature have taken the shift away from meat quite as far.
The Crenn Group also took the meat-free announcement as an opportunity to debut several new menu options at its restaurants, including a new $225 tasting menu at Bar Crenn; a 15-course, $475 “Grand Feast” collaboration between Bar Crenn and Atelier Crenn; and, in some ways the swankiest of all, a $275–$350 “Moveable Feast” that will take guests on a kind of progressive dinner through all three restaurants, with bites at each one and an Uber Black car service to Petit Crenn, where the meal will end with a seven-course tasting menu.