Dominique Crenn Talks Bar Crenn, Good Wine and the Lessons of 'Gastronomie Française'
Located next door to her two-Michelin-starred flagship, Atelier Crenn, Dominique Crenn's new concept will add even more French soul to San Francisco. Bar Crenn, which opens on February 20, is a place to sip a glass of Champagne before dining at Atelier Crenn, or sit for a classic French meal, or end up for a digestif after dinner somewhere else.
"It's an homage to the gastronomie française, the French classics," Crenn tells Food & Wine at the 2018 Cayman Cookout. "It’s an homage to the masters, too. I wanted to show what the French classics are and not so much do my own thing. I wanted to create a space where people can feel at home." Crenn asked top French chefs around the world, including pals like Alain Ducasse and Yannick Alléno, for recipes for Bar Crenn, and they all agreed to offer their dishes. Ducasse's tarte flambée, for example, will make an appearance on the menu.
The chef will be doing things her way, too. Crenn plans on serving what she calls the best French omelet in the world. ("There's a secret. I can't tell you.") Guests will also be able to order some foods in advance, if they want to do live spiny lobster or spider crab for a special occasion.
Crenn is especially excited about the wine list, which features almost exclusively small producers from France and elsewhere.
"We need to support the small wineries that spend all their lives making incredible wine," she says. "A lot of wines aren’t available on a commercial level. To me, it's all about giving back."
Crenn is one of the most celebrated chefs in the world. Her restaurant Atelier Crenn is routinely listed on the World's Best Restaurant's list, and in 2016, she was named the World's Best Female Chef. She credits cooking with her mother as a child as the beginning of her culinary career, and notes that Bar Crenn will take inspiration from some of her fondest childhood food memories.
"I used to make roasted fish, lapin chasseur, seafood, lobster," she recalls. "We used to make a tarte tatin, charlotte au chocolat. Maybe I didn’t know at the time, but it helps you connect with the food that you’re eating—taking the time to go to the market and cook a meal. A child remembers those moments in the kitchen and why they went to the market. That’s so important."