Being the first critic to file a review of Atelier Crenn, Jonathan Kauffman sounds less than in love, but also torn about the ambition and beauty of some dishes versus the pacing and somewhat anemic portion sizes. He writes, “for Atelier Crenn to succeed artistically, the chef will have to resolve how to balance her food-as-art intentions with the food-as-meal expectations of patrons.” Much like he did when Commonwealth first opened, Kauffman finds both harmonious and “jarring” notes across the menu, calling several of chef Dominique Crenn’s highly composed plates “eviscerating” in their beauty, and calling the already oft-mentioned potato dish, titled “Mémoire d’Enfance,” “exquisite.” He also says the design of the room is “pure gold,” but he gets a “gummy mass of connective tissue” in a piece of foie gras, and says that Crenn’s idea of a sous-vide egg is a little “lukewarm and phlegmy” for his taste. [SF Weekly] Update: By way of apology, or explication, Kauffman offers this follow-up blog post.
Paul Reidinger heads back to thirteen-year-old Charanga in the Mission, calling chef-owner Gabriela Salas’s Nuevo Latino food “wonderful,” even if the place is a little noisy. He says of the ground beef Picadillo Cubano, “As peasant food goes, this could hardly be more satisfying.” Also he loves the seafood stew called pachanga, which “could nearly have passed as something from Thailand or south India, with its broth of lemongrass-infused coconut milk, not to mention an SRO crowd of shrimp, mussels, calamari, and chunks of whitefish.” [SFBG]