By this point, I had just went through a 10 hour flight from Amsterdam, which was preceded by a 13 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur. God knows what time zone I’m in right now, but I’m going to roll with the punches and see what happens.
Miraculously, I managed to stay awake throughout the first dinner of our road trip across San Francisco and Napa Valley. To kick things off, we went to Atelier Crenn, which is a two star Michelin restaurant by chef and owner Dominique Crenn. She draws her inspiration from art and nature in creating culinary masterpieces of sorts. And naturally, her menu was composed in the form of a poem dubbed the “Poetic Culinaire”.
There were a few highlights to the meal, albeit honestly I could not recall all of the specific elements of each dish. Doesn’t help that the menu is a poem, which is beautiful to read but unfortunately doesn’t allow me to recollect much after a 3 week lull. I blame jetlag, and the lovely booze.
We opted for the Chef’s Grand Tasting Menu, which had set us back $195 plus the additional wine pairing of $150. First day and we’ve already spent approximately $400! This will certainly end well. At least we’ll have fond memories whilst munching on instant noodles back home. And I’ll need to start planning my subsequent offshore trips to bring home more bacon, preferably bacon ice cream ala Heston Blumenthal.
One of the first starters that I do recall was Oysters with compressed apple and tobacco, caviar with uni and licorice broth, and salsify. Salsify, as my friend likes to remind me, is a great way to induce gaseous discharges from thy posterior. Love the natural sweetness of it though! The dish was very delicate, which is a recurring theme throughout the meal.
One of the dishes which I had really liked was the most intense of tomato broths. It was lovely and lingered for many minutes after.
The chef definitely has a good eye for presentation, although not necessarily the most satiating in terms of portion size.
Another highlight of the meal was the Mushroom done three ways, served oddly enough with meringue and varous other condiments. I do love mushrooms, and the pickled mushrooms were particularly delicious.
Well, finding the wagyu beef here was definitely like a game of Where’s Waldo, which was hidden under a “forest floor” of herbs. Don’t think we got our money’s worth with this dish here.
This dish, though I can’t remember the specifics, was a take on salad. What I do recall was that it was surprisingly flavourful despite its rather miniscule portion.
Right before we commenced desserts, was a crisp made from green tea and seaweed, which worked surprisingly well together and was very tasty. Sweet and packed with umami, can’t really go wrong with that.
Of all the courses, the dish which I could immediately remember was the dessert course, and it was out of this world. Even the plating was out of this world with some alien shell-like vessel. Inside, what appears to be some odd seabed lifeform, was actually rice pudding with coconut, Moscato D’Asti foam and blue granita. The dish had different textures to it, and the flavours definitely came together harmoniously.
We finally ended the meal with a few petit fours, which were also quite satisfying. Desserts were definitely a strong suit at this establishment.
At the end of the day, we all had a fun experience. But was it value for money? Probably not.
Although we got a few pleasant surprises here and there, the food was relatively inconsistent and the portions were definitely lacking, especially with the wagyu beef which was nowhere to be found. You won’t find me rushing back here anytime soon, but it was an interesting experience nonetheless.