Finally! America Has A Female Three Michelin Star Chef!
The US FINALLY has a 3-Michelin Star Restaurant with a Female Chef! Bravo to Chef Dominique Crenn! The above photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images for NYCWFF shows a strong empowered Chef who is getting the recognition she deserves…
Time To Eat At Atelier Crenn!
Of course, we had seen the “Chef’s Table” episode with Dominique, and had plans to visit her restaurant, but when the Michelin stars were announced, my wife Alex and I immediately booked a reservation to see the Chef in action, and boy did we!
Here is Atelier Crenn. As the restaurant’s website states:
“Behind an unassuming facade mere steps from the San Francisco Bay, Dominique Crenn offers a multi-course experience in a homey and luxurious dining room. Atelier Crenn is an homage to her father, Allain, with his paintings hung upon the walls.”
Here is one of those paintings that was on the wall behind our table:
The restaurant goes on to describes the meal that lies ahead:
“Each guest is greeted with a poem, each line symbolizing a presentation in the meal. The menu is focused on seafood and vegetables, drawing from the memories of her mother’s garden in Brittany through the lens of California product and produce.”
So, with that, we were seated and the culinary adventure unfolded before us!
We found ourselves with a great view of the entire restaurant from our table, as well as the paintings adorning the walls.
Dominique shares her menu two ways: first, in the form of a poem, which sits on the table when you arrive:
OK, it’s difficult at times to keep the dishes and the poem in sync, but I will try to do so – that said, you are also given the official menu at the end of the meal looking like this:
Here is the meal, dish by dish:
Pumpkin & Pain d’epices
As the poem says: “winter has come with its cool breeze”: this refreshing pumpkin broth cleanses the palate, accompanied by a unique “drink in an orb”:
This “drink” popped like a chocolate-covered Cherry in our mouth…by the way, the dishes come fairly quickly, and soon after we had this Oyster dish delivered with an “icy” shell:
Rocky Point Oyster & Rose
As the poem says about this dish:
“See the efflorescing beauty with rosy cheeks rises”…an icy edible shell covers a perfectly poached oyster….the briny oyster with the snow cone top and refreshing rose…
Up next was a dish from my hometown, which Dominique describes poetically as:
“A most adored gift from Neptune, this aureate bloom”
Geoduck, Sea Urchin & Citrus
A Geoduck is a giant clam that I knew well from growing up in Seattle…it’s a tough chew normally, but his has been delicately sliced and poached on top of sea urchin and topped with some citrus foam….a delicious and briny bite…more from the sea is next:
King Crab, Seaweed & Whey
This delicate crab is topped by dehydrated gooseberries and plump sea grapes – as Chef states:
“Warriors ashore bathe in a glow as luminous as its gilded crown…”
While the menu calls it seaweed, the servers referred to it as “sea grass” – and here is how they finish the dish at the table – as you have noticed, most dishes are completed at the table!
The dish is also served with a rich crab consommé – this is an incredible dish that is the highlight so far, and that is saying a lot…
Seeds & Grains
This next dish was so creative – seeds crushed at your table, then served in a bowl with trout roe, rendered duck fat oil and marigold flower extract!
As Chef Crenn wrote:
“To bury in fallen leaves my treasures of the earth and sea”
It was a very interesting granola-like texture, and it provided the perfect transition to a double shot of my favorite foods: truffles and caviar!
Leek, Fermented Allium & Perigord Truffle
Yes, that’s a leek on the left and slices of black truffle in the middle!
“A wild dance together, to the memories of a devotion unspoken”
Hard to describe except to say that the flavor of Truffle was unmistakable and intense…and another beautifully unique presentation…
Unveil The Caviar!
Next up, Chef Crenn’s poem says this:
“By the shimmer of black pearls, tumbling in the ashen cloud…”
And what appears next?
A beautiful glass dish, unveiling this:
Golden Osetra, Potato & Onion
Yes, caviar with gold leaf was next, and for a supplement, we added one more caviar dish as well, finished table side:
Reserve White Sturgeon & Koji
Yes, this second dish of caviar with thin slices of onion surrounding a potato cream! This was phenomenal and they serve both dishes at once so you can compare and contrast!
Each dish had its own unique flavor, but the micro-thin onion leaves were incredibly full of flavor, without muting the incredibly taste of the caviar. Each dish was incredible.
Now, at this point in the meal, if you wondered if bread and butter were served with dinner – oh yes they were!
Brioche & House-make Butter
This house-made brioche shows up hot and flaky, with two different butters: one with Foie fat and another with truffle!
Abalone, Cabbage & Smoked Creme
The poem says simply:
“An armored gent listens, beneath the bluff…”
This next dish has Abalone and sauerkraut underneath a cabbage shell with smoked cream, and look at these creamy sauces that we’re next!
Striped Bass & Farm Offerings
“As the Blue Beauty sings with ebullience the season’s euphony…”
Yes, the striped bass was accompanied by a whipped pair of vegetable creams…and a last sip of the blue beauty:
A refreshing hot bouillon was made from the sea bass bones – then it was time to finish with one more incredible fish dish with an equally incredible presentation:
Oma & Hachiya Persimmon
“For the verdant bounty of the gatherer’s harvest in caring hands…”
It begins with these dishes delivered on a large tray, and fresh herbs harvested right in front of you – then, this Oma fish and persimmon is placed down in front of you, and a white truffle makes an appearance:
Now, before we get to dessert, here is what the restaurant’s website said about this part of the restaurant:
“The synergy between Dominique and Juan Contreras, the Chef Pâtissier, is evident through his use of food as a means to share a story and reconnect guests with nature. Inspiration for the creations are often very personal and rooted in a sense of constant evolution.”
Rooted is right!
“There comes an arboreous scent, about my climb…”
This is a Eucalyptus grove popsicle – served as a palate cleanser…and next up is one of the most unique desserts I have ever had:
Actually called “Joe The Snowman”, this is a refreshing, pine-scented sorbet body with yogurt snow and melange snowflakes…yes, a delicious “snowman” that tastes like you came across it in the woods!
As Chef Crenn wrote in her poem:
“Amongst the blanketed giants stands an old friend, pure but fleeting…”
The meal finished with a few nice bites presented like this:
Small chocolate bites finished us nicely.
After dinner, we were taken into the kitchen to meet the Chef, who greeted us with a big smile and happily posed with us:
Alex loves the semi-photo bomb going on behind us – and we also left with a signed cookbook!
Hopefully all of the pictures managed to show just how creative Chef Crenn is – bravo on her long-overdue third Michelin star!
If I got any of the poem wrong, you need to go and find some culinary poetry yourself!
By the way, the meal took just under three hours, and cost $375 per person…
This ranks with one of our favorite meals ever, right up there with another incredible inventive three-star Chef:
Chef Grant Achetz of Alinea in Chicago is also a wizard: I mean, where do you get served bacon like this!
Here is a look at the meal we had there:
Again, thanks to Chef Dominique Crenn and her incredible staff for such a memorable meal!
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