Petit Crenn (San Francisco, CA)
609 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102
Dining date: 11/27/15
Petit Crenn is Dominique Crenn’s follow-up to her two Michelin starred Atelier Crenn. This restaurant is very different from the Atelier’s haute multi-course tasting menus; Petite Crenn is a small neighborhood restaurant serving a daily family-style menu inspired by Crenn’s childhood in Brittany, France. The food is seafood and vegetable-focused and is priced at a relatively reasonable $79pp for five courses (inclusive of service).
We dined at the Chef’s Table on this evening, which contrary to my assumption, was neither in the kitchen nor had much of a view of the kitchen. It’s a six-top in a secluded corner of the main dining room serving an ‘enhanced’ version of that night’s menu (upgraded ingredients and extra courses). For the privilege, these seats were $120pp inclusive of service.
Gougeres gruyere, pickled shallot
Cheesy gougeres with a pickled shallot jam signaled the beginning of the meal.
French Omelette fines herbes
Probably the best bite of the evening, these mini rolls of cheesy omelette were luscious and delicious. Perfectly executed.
Wellfleet Oysters buddha’s hand mignonette, grains of paradise
Grilled Oysters piment d’espelette
A duo of oysters, one raw and one grilled, were next to hit the table. They were both very good; the grilled ones were just a little more interesting to me with the subtle smoke and spice.
We chose a chenin blanc to have with our meal.
Sauteed Monterey Bay Black Abalone pickled shallot, fish stock, red wine sauce, smoked carrots
Abalone was tender and sweet, complemented by some extra depth from the fish stock and red wine reduction. Pickled shallots provided the acidity to brighten everything up.
Slices of thick cut bread came to the table just in time to have with the soup coming up in the next course.
Heirloom Squash Soup sea urchin, smoked buckwheat
The soup was warm and comforting on this cold evening. The squash’s natural sweetness actually went well with bites of sea urchin while the buckwheat provided some crunch in each bite.
Wood-Fired Spanish Octopus huckleberry glaze
The tentacles of a whole Spanish octopus was the impressive centerpiece of the main course. The octopus was a bit chewy, but had a good smoky char and went very well with a sauce made of its own ink.
Caramelized Sunchoke Mash creme fraiche
Roasted Brusssels Sprouts espelette aioli, hazelnuts
Both of the sides were strong. I loved the presentation of the Brussels sprouts on the stalk, roasted and drizzled with aioli and hazelnuts. The sunchoke mash, topped with a dollop of creme fraiche, was a sweet and creamy highlight.
Seasonal Greens Salad fuyu persimmon, fromage
The meal continued on a lighter note with a fresh salad of greens and fruit, paired with cheese.
Far Breton Aux Pommes
This evening’s dessert was this rich, dense custard topped with slices of apple and whipped cream. I was glad to find that it wasn’t too sweet, though wasn’t able to fully enjoy this rather heavy dessert on a full stomach.
Nun Puffs coffee filling, chocolate glaze
A few sweets and some great ‘cream puffs’ filled with coffee cream ended the meal.
As expected, we had some very good food this evening. However, the strength of the food was overshadowed by some very inconsistent service. Crenn was on hand to warmly welcome everyone to the restaurant at the beginning of the dinner, but most of the meal was spent with a rather cold server that often seemed hurried to get us through the meal. In one example we had plenty of octopus, Brussels sprouts and sunchoke mash left over and the service was all-too-quick to toss it away before we could ask them to box it (their default assumption was to throw it away). It was very disappointing – a gross amount of food to throw away. Towards the end of the meal, we were again in the hands of a rather pleasant and warm server – I’m sure if she had waited on us, we would have had a very different experience.