It’s easy to be complacent in your surroundings, unaware of the excitement lingering nearby. San Francisco is one of those places, especially in and around the Theater District near Union Square. After major renovations, new hotels and restaurants opened in that area and they’re worth a closer look.
My husband and I experienced the scene at the Hotel G and Klyde Wine Bar, 398 Brasserie and Benjamin Cooper (next to the hotel but under different ownership) and The Warwick and their European Bar & Lounge and Aveline restaurant.
STAY & DINE:
Hotel G: Modern hotel offering comfortable accommodations and relaxed setting in an historic 1908 building.
The interior is decorated with soft earth-tone colors, mixing contemporary and classic mid-century furniture and bursts of color in works by local artists. The art is for sale –through a partnership with Creativity Explored, an art center for the developmentally disabled.
We stayed in a spacious twelfth floor corner room (with seating area) overlooking the theater district. Bathrooms are stocked with Bigelow toiletries. Find original flooring in rooms and hallways: Concrete on the top four while lower floors are wood (can be cold and a bit noisy).
Water conservation efforts include low-flow toilets and shower heads and giving guests the option to reuse linens/towels.
398 Brasserie: Open all day and boasts European-inspired dishes at dinner. The interior combines industrial chic with the building’s original ornate plaster high ceiling and columns in addition to velvet banquets and zinc-topped bar.
Charcuteries and cheese boards are specialties. Try the brown butter scallops; also the beef cheeks – rich and tender, they melt in your mouth. Creative cocktails to start and a 2013 Ventana Rubystone Grenache/Syrah blend from Arroyo Seco. The butterscotch pot de crème is a must.
For breakfast, try The 398 with scrambled eggs, bacon and their special crispy potatoes. (These items are usually on the menu.)
Klyde Wine Bar: Open from 4 p.m. serving wine and dinner in a casual bistro environment. Sit in front of the cozy restaurant that looks out on Geary Street or towards the back at the small bar or tables/banquettes made from reclaimed wood. Cheese, charcuterie, tapas, burgers, pastas and an interesting selection of wines are featured; happy hour daily.
Benjamin Cooper: Hot bar in a cool setting, just upstairs from 398 Brasserie. The owners, Brian and Mo, know their stuff and are dedicated to serving great cocktails (and delicious oysters). When I was in, loved the Solid Gold Soul (tequila, golden beet, Strega liqueur) and Bees in Alaska (gin, Gentian liqueur, sherry and vermouth) among others. (Menu changes frequently.)
The Warwick San Francisco: Located in a Beaux-Arts style building designed over a century ago. Maintains its historic character with the original lobby chandelier hanging prominently from a domed ceiling; ornately framed mirrors; intricately carved gargoyles in the hallways; old photographs; and refurbished headboards and armoires in guest rooms. Modern furniture adds to the upscale look and feel.
Known for an abundance of daily sunshine (one wall in every bathroom is painted bright yellow commemorating that fact), our bright corner room had city views.
Water conservation efforts include low-flow toilets and showerheads and letting guests decide if they want to reuse linens/towels.
The European Bar & Lounge: Intimate, sexy and serving cocktails inspired by its name, The European stretches from the bar in the front to a cozy setting in the back. Creative, well-made drinks, including the Love Letter (vodka, ginger hibiscus syrup, lemon) and Smoke Without Fire (gin, Italian liquor, scotch, rosemary) were favorites. (Menu changes seasonally.)
Aveline: a light, airy restaurant where tables have a bird’s eye view of the kitchen. Brunch offers an array of egg dishes and heavier fare mixed with health conscious choices, including these freshly baked options: Breakfast Bread (with jam and ricotta) and Morning Pie (their take on pecan pie with cinnamon, honey, toasted nuts and seeds). Kick it up with a spicy Bloody Mary.
At dinner, we started with the roots and Brussels chips served with sweet and spicy mustard and heated up with chili flakes, and the vanilla beets with roasted cardamom turnips garnished with yogurt and spiced chocolate. The moist rainbow trout came with savory lemon curd and fava beans. We paired a 2009 Sierra Cantabria Crianza Tempranillo with the meal. (Menus changes seasonally.)
PLAY & SHOP
Living in San Francisco, we have favorite places to play and shop, but this trip was about the Theater District. Plenty of opportunities to enjoy great performances at the Curran, ACT, and San Francisco Playhouse to name a few (for a complete guide, check: san-francisco-theater.com/).
Union Square Park, an historic urban space (dates from 1847), is always full of people. The square is either open with benches for people watching and an art show or huge tents housing special events. Internet access is free.
In addition to high end stores just off the Square, you’ll find numerous art galleries nearby as well as H&M and Uniqlo for fun shopping.
OTHER ESSENTIALS: San Francisco Tourism
PATTY BURNESS can be found @pattygb