What restaurants are you sad about? (Bay Area)

I got a gutpunch yesterday when I saw the following; wonder what your “sad list” is.

Starlight Social Club (Berk). Good restaurant, great cocktails, AWESOME music, gone.

Cockscomb (SF). Not like it can’t be reproduced, but it had a substantial flair, with the Gin Jam and the huge steaks and the Hot Mess.

Dan Gordon (PA). We didn’t go there often enough, but DG’s beers were such a cut above GB’s, and there was always space at the bar. That’s not a good sign, but nice enough for us.

Black Pepper (MP). I think we were there every two weeks or so. Clean tastes, spice without overmuch heat, pleasant bar, I think we were turned away only once.

What’s your list?

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Very sad about Cockscomb. I have yet to try their pig’s head.

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A little bummed that Francisca’s closed, but knowing Manny Torres Gimenez’s track record he’ll probably have another venture open soon.

I never made it to Huangcheng Noodle House. Same with Dopo.

Obispo was an interesting concept that I hope gets tried again.

The Rotunda restaurant at Neiman Marcus. The incomparable stained glass Dome is one of the few remaining great pieces from the SF-based Tiffany competitor, United Art Glass Works (they also did the Palace Hotel and Hibernia Bank stained glass).

A classic “ladies restaurant” lunch place. Gave me a grilled salmon that was simple and utterly perfect. But what they were known for is something very rare in the SFBA. This is from my personal review of a 2018 visit:

"… The Rotunda San Francisco restaurant is on the fourth floor. It’s as close to the stained glass dome as one can get. Diners are up close and personal with the gilded flourishes and curlicues framing the two original goggle-eyed Tritons (they were fancifully designed as blowing imaginary winds to fill the stained glass ship’s sails). These giant heads are set opposite one another in the base molding around the skylight. Open to the first three floors, the circular dining space is tiered so almost every table has a good view towards the center. The restaurant is open only for lunch. Afternoon tea service is available every afternoon, by reservation only. The wine list is excellent, with a wide and varied selection by the glass.

Amuse-bouche: Chicken consomme, cheese mille-feuille.

Neiman Marcus is famed for its classic chicken salad. The sensible thing to do with those bones is…make stock! This classic clear soup is made from a delicious chicken broth: a beautiful deep, clear gold without a trace of jarred base or murky mirepoix . If you’ve never tasted a fine consommé, coming to NM just for this, its standard amuse-bouche, is worth making the reservation. The savory mille-feuille was a little stale, however; although cute with its crescent moon shape and charming mini-size.

Popover, strawberry butter.

It’s been decades since Carlos and I had popovers. And frankly, nothing my Mom made tasted as good as this. Forget the traditional rib roast’s rendered suet – these are sweet cultured butter and high gluten flour, puffy and warm with the distinctive chewy yet yielding crust.* It demands you slather more of that amazing fresh-tasting strawberry butter on every bite. You may never be impressed by anyone’s bread basket again.

** If you want to try making popovers, try the recipe at:* https://blog.kingarthurflour.com/2008/10/09/going-for-the-guarantee-popovers/ .

Seriously, if Neiman Marcus ever tires of selling Diors and Brionis, it should open a window counter and sell these popovers as a quick snack. They could become the City’s leading fast/casual pop-up. Bagels and croissants might be forced to pack it up and go home. "

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NM is in bankruptcy, but announced the Rotunda will be open for the Christmas holiday season only. The company is within its rights to close the store and sell the Dome, although it is listed as a historical site.

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Thanks for the word about the Rotunda. I’ve noticed that when a restaurant changes hands, often interesting historic fixtures go “missing”, as if the new owner figured out they could fund part of the renovations through sale. In the greater palo alto area, the BBC in Menlo Park had one of the Great Old Wood Bars remaining on the peninsula. Supposedly a “facebooker” bought the place, took out the bar, and started on some renovations — did not complete. The “new bbc” is a shadow of the previous self, and the 100 year old bar is gone. Let’s hope its at least in someone billionaire’s mancave. There was an excellent stained glass in what is now Ettan in Palo Alto. I don’t know the history of the stained glass dome, but it was a pretty awesome one.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold