Thursday, November 19, 2015

San Francisco new style

San Francisco, November 17, 2015—
IT SEEMS A NEW style of restauration has been emerging in the last few months. Among the characteristics: smaller places; table-d'hôte menus, the end (or the erosion) of tipping. It will be interesting to see where this leads.

Tonight, having time to kill between a visit to the museum (Motherwell show, small but inspired) and another to the airport (picking up a friend), we decided to postpone fast day to Wednesday in order to try out one of the newcomers. We arrived a little after five and were the only customers. We couldn't take a table, though; they were reserved for later diners, and besides you can't eat à la carte at the tables. So we took comfortable stools at the counter separating dining room from the open kitchen.

The à la carte menu offered little that interested me: oysters (well, sure, but nearly four dollars each); mackerel; sea urchin; squash soup; chanterelles with pickled huckleberry; poached egg with pomegranate vinaigrette; abalone, omelet…

We settled on a "Wood-Fired Trout for Two," and watched it grilled over the flames in a wire basket. The cook then presented it and asked if he might go ahead and bone it out. Meeting no objection, he added a heavily grilled half lemon to the plate, and several dollops of cider sabayon foam.

I liked it. The foam soon subsided, giving up its postmodern fashion statement and settling into the very pink flesh of this fish — I wondered what the fish might have been fed, then put the question out of my mind — and adding some welcome moisture to what might otherwise have been pretty dry flesh. The lemon juice helped, too.

IMG_1982.jpgThis restaurant is assertively Breton, I think: the cooks were wearing blue-and-white-striped aprons, and the beverage list included three ciders, one of which came by the glass. Bol, actually; heavy salt-glazed pottery handled bowls. (I ordered a glass of white as well.)

Dessert: "Nun Puff", a couple of bite-sized creampuffs stacked vertically, filled with coffee-flavored pastry cream, belted with very nice dark chocolate, and sporting a jaunty chocolate beret and ready to roll a hoop of the same material. Fun.

Macon blanc
• Le Petit Crenn, 609 Hayes Street, San Francisco; 415-864-1744
Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

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