Part 1 concentrated on the first part of our poetic journey with Atelier Crenn (click to view). This post completes the experience as we continued to sip through our excellent 2004 Barbaresco.
The regal Nebbiolo wine really paired well with this tartare made of lamb, smoked eel and salted egg yolk. It was unlike any tartare we have ever had; it was so incredibly tasty, we joked that it must be made of unicorn meat. Pomegranate seeds added crunch along with the wild rice cracker that could barely hold the meat. Typical condiments for a tartare were represented as horseradish dots and as a crème fraîche gelatin:
As we moved along the Poetic menu, we started guessing what the next course would be, and we correctly surmised that the “Walking deep in the woods … ” would feature mushrooms. The forest theme was continued in the sweet douglas fir meringue, basil soil and chips made of dehydrated mushrooms. It was the perfect balance of savory and sweet earthy elements:
A very rich duck consommé tea, meant to be sipped with the next course, was poured tableside:
Then Chef Crenn’s signature dish, Birth, arrived. A fried corn silk nest contained little “eggs” made with duck fat and corn. The tree branch was made of chocolate flavored with porcini mushrooms. Apple and pear flavors created another interesting contrast of sweet with savory:
The progression from birth of an egg to poultry represented by seared squab, with deliciously crisped skin, seemed natural. The transition of winter to spring was represented by a parsnip purée snow, leafless branches made with parsnips cooked in squid ink and the bloom of a flower:
Cedar tea was served from tree cups filled with snow:
A closeup of the tea shows the thin cedar plank accompanied by cedar leaves:
The next course was more camouflaged when it arrived, where a couple of eucalyptus branches held frozen menthol-eucalyptus “pops.” It was meant to represent the fresh spring breeze and served as a refreshing interlude:
A butternut squash tea was infused table-side with star anise, cinnamon, vanilla and cardamom:
The squash tea set up for a dessert brioche that had the same spice flavors as the infusion. Topped with “pebbles” and white chocolate bites, it was camouflaged by the serving box filled with leaves. The tree branches were also scented with vanilla and cardamom oils which provided an aromatic sensation to match the flavor:
Sadly, our experience ended with the appearance of the mignardises which included caramels, paper thin seed bark, meringue kisses and a most interesting chocolate ganache “caviar”:
We were torn whether or not to provide such detailed documentation of the menu, but decided that there may be some that would like to see what Chef Crenn’s Poetic Culinaria is all about. Having made her mark at Luce and as a contestant on the Next Iron Chef, the two-year old Atelier Crenn is quite an achievement, driven by her vision and mastery.
The menu changes at Atelier Crenn about four times a year to reflect the seasons. The more affordable five course menu would be something that can keep regulars coming in, but the Chef’s Tasting menu is definitely a splurge worthy indulgence once in awhile. It should be noted that service was efficient and friendly; and surprisingly, reservations are relatively easy to come by. The poetic journey was phenomenal and unlike other dining experiences. It easily rates as one of our Top 5 meals, so we can understand why they awarded Chef Crenn with her second star.