Friday, November 26, 2010

The Rotunda at Nieman Marcus

If there truly are ladies with leisure time "who lunch", then this is the perfect venue for them. Because of the demands of preserving architectural heritage, Neiman Marcus worked their remodeling around the dome and mezzanine of this venerable old San Francisco building, formerly occupied by City of Paris that originally sold goods out of a chartered ship during the Gold Rush. The building, built in 1896 was the finest example of a Beaux Arts commercial building in the state and I for one was pleased to be able to sit in this beautiful space for an Afternoon Tea, something the ladies would most assuredly approve.

Finger sandwiches and pastries reigned supreme and lorded over the table on a two tiered tray. How shall we work this, from the top down or should we start at the bottom and work our way up?

As a fan of a Cream Tea, and having worked my way around a tea table  or two, I went for the gusto and picked up a scone. Unfortunately, there was not a lick  of clotted cream in the place, so I settled in on butter and strawberry jam. Close but no cigar. I must say, the madeleines were buttery, rich and sweet. The petit fours were a delight. What little girl hasn't fallen in love with these mini cakes?

Besides those, the lower tier of the tray held mini brownies, raspberry tartlettes and mini lemon cupcakes. These lilliputian sized portions of sweetness and light barely needed one bite to consume, but we did save them for eating after sampling some of the more savory offerings.

It's amazing how much food is really served with an Afternoon Tea. Even when sharing and eating only one of everything the portion is still 10 small items and that adds up.
So, here we have them lined in a row for easy identification. In front is the crust less (how genteel) cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwich, followed by the egg salad finger sandwich, then a shrimp salad in puff pastry, and finally tuna. The little girl who loves petit fours would turn up her nose at every single one, if they had been  served in a normal portion, but would consider these "cute". All in all, this became a nice afternoon on a holiday weekend and the ladies at this table, both fully employed, enjoyed the snippet of leisure. One downside, the napkins are full of lint, so don't use them over dark clothing.

150 Stockton St
San Francisco CA
(415) 249-2720

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Harris', the San Francisco steak house, has been serving prime beef to generations of San Francisco patrons. Along with House of Prime Rib, it is the restaurant most of us think of when needing a steak fix. While we don't indulge often, when we desire quality beef, we know that a reservation at this restaurant guarantees our satisfaction with prime grade, Midwestern, dry aged beef.

We could do without the little cheese toasts, but it was a nice gesture to offer during cocktails. Even when you haven't ordered one.

Oysters on the Half Shell make a great start to the meal and the sauce selections were all very good. There was the standard cocktail sauce, a mignonette, and an outstanding Asian inspired sauce. I believe it was made with rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, chives and ginger. The oysters were briny, plump, and very fresh.

Ask for a Porterhouse cooked to perfection and this is what you will get. We were so preoccupied enjoying the meal, no photo was taken of the perfectly rendered medium-rare interior. The herb butter was a nice detail. You receive a smattering of vegetables on each plate, I suspect to decorate the burnt offerings with a little color, rather than to nutritionally balance the meal. You have a choice of potatoes, either baked or the potato of the day. Our option was potatoes au gratin.

The bone-In Ribeye was also medium rare, but cooked a bit more in its own heat, while resting on the plate waiting for its close up. All in all, this was an excellent meal that any carnivore would be pleased to consume.

For those who would prefer to forgo the potato for lighter carbohydrates, the Caesar salad was nicely interpreted, with anchovies placed on the top rather than dispersed throughout the salad.

2100 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco CA 94109
415 673-1888