Those of you who follow me on social media already have seen a preview peek of Dominque Crenn’s latest jewel box, BAR CRENN, which just opened in the former Cellar Door in Cow Hollow. Step inside (if you were lucky to score a reservation already, or perhaps you’re taking your chances and hoping to squeeze in some night) and it’s like a Parisian salon, or as a friend and I liked to think of it, a French consul’s New York apartment from another time.
The light from the vintage chandeliers and wall fixtures is dim and creates an intimate atmosphere, while the chairs are loungy and take up a fair amount of room—it’s a luxury to sit back and have that much space around your table. The marble bar is flanked by stools covered in fuzzy wool, and there are bookshelves full of books, an array of antiques, and assorted objets that all contribute to a residential and cozy, lived-in feeling, along with a fresco on the wall. An array of global rugs throughout the space and heavy green-gray velvet curtains close off the outside world and help dampen the sound. Karan Brady is the designer behind this refined hideaway.
The à la carte menu is an homage to classic French dishes and chefs, with their recipes dutifully followed by chef Jonathan Black, executive chef of Crenn Dining Group (Atelier Crenn, Petit Crenn, Bar Crenn). He says his team has really been having fun learning and working on the dishes.
The menu includes the names of the chefs next to their dishes, from Guy Savoy’s ice-poached oysters tucked within two layers of gelée (oyster cream, Meyer lemon, New Zealand spinach), to Éric Fréchon’s oeufs mimosa au thon et au crabe, basically some of the fanciest and most flavorful deviled eggs you have ever tasted (especially the version with confit of tuna belly topped with cured tuna heart). The house pâté en croûte is a pièce de résistance, with pork shoulder and back fat and bacon lardons and Cognac and shallots and pistachios too. (The pastry is really a thing of beauty.) There are a couple of larger plates as well, including quenelles lyonnaise and pied de cochon. Just wait for the exquisite canelés de Bordeaux for dessert from Juan Contreras. Everything comes out on vintage china and you’ll see some silver too, adding to the elegant, old-world feeling.
It’s food built for wine, and wine director Matt Montrose has you covered with quite the list, with a focus on organic, biodynamic, and environmentally responsible vignerons and domaines, primarily French and Californian. Take a look here. Yup, keep scrolling. You’ll also find some old-school French-style and low-proof aperitifs featuring vermouths and sherries, including the Partage (crème de cassis, amontillado sherry, sparkling wine, and bitters).
Mark your calendar for March 20th, when the reservations for April open up, and on April 15th, for May (you can plan when to drink your tax woes away). Reservations are for parties of two to four, at varying price points and experiences, and there is a deposit. Parties of one, five, or six can call for availability. You can also try to sneak in, maybe late one night—they’ll accommodate however they can and are keeping half the room open for walk-ins. Hours for now are Tue-Sat 4:30pm-12am (last call for the kitchen at 11pm). 3131 Fillmore St. at Greenwich, 415-440-0460.
The vintage Parisian salon atmosphere at Bar Crenn. All photos: © tablehopper.com.