Petit Crenn announced an expanded a la carte lunch service a few months ago. A friend joined me in April to try the mid-day meal.
This was my first time to Chef Dominique Crenn's more casual eatery. Not much has changed since this spot was home to Bar Jules. The two chalkboards with the daily menu, hard bench seating, ample natural light, and the center of attention, the wood-burning grill.
We started with Gougere topped with a spot of pickled shallot gelee, $9. Somehow these managed to be extra light and extra cheesey at the same time. Nice to have the traditional accompaniment with our bottle of red burgundy.
Little gems, quartered and generously dressed in a well-balanced caper and shallot vinaigrette presented a play on texture. Juicy crispness of very fresh lettuce contrasted with the delicate snap of crackly cheese tuiles.
The small plate of Grilled brassicas of the day, $14, spigariello, was mostly inedible and should have been sent back. Too stringy and fibrous for a dinner knife to tackle plus too much of the leaves were burnt to charcoal.
The meal righted itself with the Parisienne gnocchi, $20. Each tiny, chewy dumpling was marked by the griddle for that little something extra in flavor, texture and color. Fresh English peas and pea shoots added spring green brightness to the earthy depth of beech mushrooms, walnuts and the herbed jus.
The Whole trout, $30, roasted over the fire was excellent as well. Our server boned it quite expertly tableside.
This revealed the aromatic elements tucked into the trout's cavity. Then dollops of sauce vierge dotted the perfectly cooked rosy-hued flesh.
To accompany our Gallic meal, the 1996 Maume Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru from my cellar. At 20 years of age, this old-school red burg was barely approachable. My dining companion felt it needed another 20 years. Corkage fee at Petit Crenn is a painful $45 per bottle.
Our window seat on a sunny day in a relatively quiet room made for a pleasant and leisurely lunch atmosphere. Menu prices include service and no additional gratuity is expected. Even so, I do consider Petit Crenn spendy for lunch. Still, it is a splurge that I recommend. Other opinions?
609 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA