609 Hayes Street, SF CA 94102 | 415.864.1744 | website
Earlier this month, I met my friends Brenda of Bourbon & Bites along her husband Patrick and Ben who writes Focus:Snap:Eat for dinner at Petit Crenn which had opened that week. Brenda is well connected and got us a table when they had been open only 3 days!
This is chef Dominque Crenn’s new restaurant that reflects her personal style (sleek and awesome) with an intimate menu which is served family style with two dinner seatings at 6 and 8:30 pm. There is a festive, dinner-party ambiance, accentuated by painful acoustics that makes your ears ache because everyone is having such a wonderful time.
The room is illuminated with glowing pendant lights hanging on knotted rope cords and the striped aprons of the servers brings to mind a nautical element which echoes the menu that is inspired by the coastal cuisine of Brittany, the food that chef Dominique Crenn grew up on cooked by her mother and grandmother.
The dining room is elegant and white with stylish molded seats and rustic walnut tables which sets off the lovely vintage silverware and asymmetrical plates that are the faded colors of sea glass.
Here is the first course, Pacific coast oysters on the half shell with smoked tomato gelee and pousse pied, which is also known as samphire or sea beans and is an edible plant that grows in marshy areas.
I had a pear cider which is a specialty of Brittany and was served in a rustic saucer called a Bolée, it was refreshingly lively and tart.
We enjoyed a variety of snacks, the gougeres were tiny golden poufs of cheesy choux pastry topped with an ethereal little halo of pickled shallot.
We stopped to admire the next plates before we dug in: marinated anchovy with fried parsley and simple omelette filled with rich cheese and fresh herbs.
Served with slices of crusty sourdough to be spread with sweet butter and sprinkled with crunchy sea salt… oh my!
Chef owner Dominique Crenn arrived and her presence lit up the dining room. She greeted everyone like they are long lost friends that she is so happy to see and began serving dishes to the tables. Chef Crenn is a local celebrity, being the first female chef in America to earn two Michelin stars for her restaurant Atelier Crenn which serves poetic culinaria and has appeared in the Iron Chef competition on the Foodnetwork.
The snails were chewy and bland in the mushroom broth, I have only had them served in a robust garlic butter and definitely prefer them that way. But these were tasty if you put them on the buttery pastry after a good dunk in the mushroom sauce…
We totally loved the main course of roasted trout, cauliflower gratin and roasted cabbage.
The fire roasted trout was drizzled with cider sabayon and stuffed with fresh herbs and lemon slices. Watch the video below to see our server expertly cut open the fish for serving.
There was also a grilled lemon which we squeezed over the marvelously flavorful flesh. This was out of this world tender and flaky, Chef Crenn said that the quality of the ingredients speak for themselves and I agree. She later came by and commented that we were missing out on the best part by not eating the skin. And she was right, the skin was meltingly rich and delicious and was gone in an instant!
We each received a slice of cheese, a buttery rich Timanoix made by the brothers of Timadeuc at the Cistercian Abbey Notre Dame de Timadeuc in Bréhan, Morbihan, France (Southern Brittany). The rinds are washed in walnut brandy, infusing the cheese with a smoky aroma and we loved the silky, creamy texture and earthy, nutty flavor.
We were so stuffed but devoured the Meyer Lemon Mousse filled frozen oranges, which were like the best most amazing orange creamsicle you could imagine, but a thousand times better. It was beautiful to devour with our eyes while Chef Crenn told us that her grandmother used to make this for her when she was a child. Lucky girl! Lucky us that she chose to share with us…
We tucked away one more course of mignardise, tiny bite sized dark chocolate truffles, flakey butter cookies and a luscious salted caramel wrapped in cellophane saved for later.
After our meal, Chef Dominique was super gracious and offered to show me how they cook the fabulous trout in a basket over red hot coals…
The five-course menu is $72 per person (including service but not including tax and beverage). The service was excellent, the food was even better and we were all quite impressed with the overall experience and I definitely will be back another season to sample more of Chef Crenn’s delicious cuisine.