Thursday, December 8, 2016

San Francisco: The Rotunda in Neiman Marcus, on Union Square


The Rotunda  150 Stockton St./Geary St., in Neiman Marcus, on Union Square, (415) 249-2720 x2465.  L & aft. tea daily; $$$, tea $45-$60.  Sun-W 11-4, Thur-Sat 11-5.  Reservations advised.
ground floor of Neiman Marcus in San Francisco
ground floor of Neiman Marcus in San Francisco

What could be finer than afternoon tea beneath this elegant department store’s gorgeous 1909 stained-glass-domed rotunda?  Choose from private and comfy half-moon booths, or tables directly overlooking Union Square.
stained-glass dome at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco
stained-glass dome at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco

The Rotunda tea room at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco
The Rotunda tea room at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco

view of Union Square from The Rotunda tea room at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco
view of Union Square from The Rotunda tea room at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco

Tea is a choice of black, green, or herbal varieties, and it does change.  My dining partner opted for a lovely Jardin Bleu blend with Indian and Chinese leaves flavored with rhubarb and wild strawberry and accented with blue cornflower petals, while I minimized my caffeine intake and chose a pleasant chamomile.  Each is presented in a small personal teapot, with the leaves brewing in a strainer in the top--a disappointment since I am fond of loose-leaf tea floating around freely in the water and the use of a strainer to collect the leaves as I pour the fragrant brew into my cup.  The serviceware is white--also not my cup of tea since I prefer floral and fussy.  Service beings with a petite cup of chicken consume and a fresh-from-the-oven popover with a side of strawberry butter.
popover and consume at The Rotunda tea room at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco
popover and consume at The Rotunda tea room at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco

The full tea includes a variety of finger sandwiches (we especially liked the chicken salad), a cylindrical prosciutto-wrapped fig, tarts of chocolate and red velvet, cookies, and, of course, scrumptious scones upon which we slathered lemon curd, raspeberry jam, and whipped cream.  The option to add in a glass of Gloria Ferrer Brut or Etoile Brut Rosé is a good one, and it heightens the elegance of the experience.  Lunch selections include the renowned NM Chicken Salad plus a lobster club and burger, and cocktail service is available. 
tiered tea tray at The Rotunda tea room at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco
tiered tea tray at The Rotunda tea room at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco

plate of tea-time treats at The Rotunda tea room at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco
plate of tea-time treats at The Rotunda tea room at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco
The Rotunda Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Do allow time before or after to browse the beautifully curated collection of goods in this elegant department store.  
clothing display at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco
clothing display at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco


tableware display at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco
tableware display at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco

More things to do in San Francisco.
 

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

More tea rooms.
 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

San Francisco: Gump’s


Gump’s  135 Post St./Kearny St., 2 blks. to Union Square.  Opened in 1861, when clipper ships brought in the inventory, this is the oldest store in San Francisco.  It is known for stocking fine oriental imports, carries the city’s largest selection of fine china and crystal, and has an eye-popping collection of American crafts.  Bath products, women’s clothing, and home furnishings are also in the mix.  It is a superb spot to find unusual gifts.  The store is beautifully decorated for Christmas; and be sure to stop in then to view the exceptional ornaments.  A personal shopper is available.      


exterior of Gump's in San Francisco, California
exterior of Gump's in San Francisco, California


Christmas ornaments at Gump's in San Francisco, California
Christmas ornaments at Gump's in San Francisco, California


big Buddah at Gump's in San Francisco, California
big Buddah at Gump's in San Francisco, California


colorful glass items at Gump's in San Francisco, California
colorful glass items at Gump's in San Francisco, California


fabric-ball necklaces at Gump's in San Francisco, California
fabric-ball necklaces at Gump's in San Francisco, California


typewriter-key cufflinks at Gump's in San Francisco, California
typewriter-key cufflinks at Gump's in San Francisco, California


More things to do in San Francisco.

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

880 South: Oakland, Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar


Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar  4238 Park Blvd./Wellington St., Glenview, (510) 336-1180.  L M-F, Sat-SunBr, D daily; $$.  Reservations advised.  This small neighborhood restaurant produces spectacular Italian fare.  Seating is at tables and chairs, and bar seats handle overflow and solo diners.  A pleasant possibility here on a warm day is sitting outside by the sidewalk, which I did.
exterior of Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar in Oakland, California
exterior of Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar in Oakland, California

Complimentary bread is long, thin toasts along with a bean spread (sometimes it is bread with fruity olive oil).
toast and bean spread at Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar in Oakland, California
toast and bean spread at Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar in Oakland, California

You’ll definitely want to try an appetizer, which on the ever-changing menu might be cauliflower fritters, fried squash blossoms stuffed with cauliflower, or housemade burrata with toasts--which is what I shared with a companion.
housemade burrata at Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar in Oakland, California
housemade burrata at Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar in Oakland, California

A three-course lunch tasting menu is a bargain at $27, but instead we ordered a la carte and shared everything.  Lunch has the option for smaller plates of pasta, but we ordered the regular portion of five beautiful and delicious casunzei ravioli stuffed with red beets.
casunzei ravioli at Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar in Oakland, California
casunzei ravioli at Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar in Oakland, California

Pasta is housemade, and a few panini are also options.  Swiss chard malfatti and gnocchi described as “delicate pillows of heaven” are on my list for next time.  I’ve also heard good things about the deep-fried meatballs, housemade pesto, and duck pasta.  For dessert think bomboloni Florentine doughnuts, affogato, or warm fruit crostata.
fruit crostata at Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar in Oakland, California
fruit crostata at Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar in Oakland, California

The only thing I didn’t care for here was the loud music inside.  I wouldn’t have minded the volume if it had been an Italian aria, but it wasn’t.

Bellanico Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland. 

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Friday, November 18, 2016

80 North: Pt. Richmond, Up & Under Pub and Grill


Up & Under Pub and Grill  2 W Richmond Ave., (510) 778-1313.  L-D daily; $$.  This atmospheric pub within a flatiron-style building dominates a corner in Christmasy red-and-green splendor.
exterior of Up & Under Pub and Grill in Pt. Richmond, California
exterior of Up & Under Pub and Grill in Pt. Richmond, California

Inside, it is a woodsy den, with a variety of seating.  I like best the main room where the bar is.
interior of Up & Under Pub and Grill in Pt. Richmond, California
interior of Up & Under Pub and Grill in Pt. Richmond, California

Of course the beer selections are primo, and the menu features nicely battered halibut fish & chips
halibut fish & chips at Up & Under Pub and Grill in Pt. Richmond, California
fish & chips at Up & Under Pub and Grill in Pt. Richmond, California

 and both ahi and regular burgers.  
ahi burger at Up & Under Pub and Grill in Pt. Richmond, California
ahi burger at Up & Under Pub and Grill in Pt. Richmond, California

Fries can be limp, and cole slaw is a bust, but the onion rings are worth a go.  Everything from salads, a Caprese sandwich, and BBQ is also available.  Several flat-screen TVs present sporting events.

Up And Under Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


You'll find these shops and more just around the corner:

Mom & Pop Art Shop  24 West Richmond Ave., (510) 730-1154.
exterior of Mom & Pop Art Shop in Pt. Richmond, California
exterior of Mom & Pop Art Shop in Pt. Richmond, California

This small shop multi-tasks.  It features an inventory of well-priced art supplies and items from local crafts people,
merchandise at Mom & Pop Art Shop in Pt. Richmond, California
merchandise at Mom & Pop Art Shop in Pt. Richmond, California

and it devotes an entire room to an art gallery that features rotating shows of works from artists around the world, including that of the artist-owners.  An “Imaginarium” table provides creative activities, puzzles, and toys for children to try out.
art gallery at Mom & Pop Art Shop in Pt. Richmond, California
art gallery at Mom & Pop Art Shop in Pt. Richmond, California

Outback  139 W. Richmond Ave., (510) 237 1199.  Sun 11-5, M-Sat 11-6.  Over the past 30 years this unusual clothing boutique has developed a loyal following.  I first discovered it in the outback of Oakland, and have since visited it in many more locations.  Currently it also has outlets in Berkeley and Ashland, Oregon.  You never know what you’ll find--most of the items are closeouts from wholesalers and some are designer labels--and you need to be prepared to try on your selections in a shared dressing room.
exterior of Outback in Pt. Richmond, California
exterior of Outback in Pt. Richmond, California

interior of Outback in Pt. Richmond, California
interior of Outback in Pt. Richmond, California

More things to do in Pt. Richmond.

More things to do in nearby Richmond. 

Here are some travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images and video ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 
 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

80 North: Berkeley, Espresso Roma


Espresso Roma  2960 College Ave./Ashby Ave., Elmwood, (510) 644-3773.  Daily 6:30am-10pm.  Supremely well located on a busy corner on a popular shopping street, Roma’s kitchen offers pre-made sandwiches and pastries along with specialty coffees.
exterior of Espresso Roma in Berkeley, California
exterior of Espresso Roma in Berkeley, California

Among the drinks are lavender lemonade, soy chai latte, caramella latte, Italian sodas, draft beers, and my choice--a frothy mocha bianca.
mocha bianca at Espresso Roma in Berkeley, California
mocha bianca at Espresso Roma in Berkeley, California

The breakfast menu includes bagels and eggs. 
breakfast menu at Espresso Roma in Berkeley, California
breakfast menu at Espresso Roma in Berkeley, California

For lunch, a sample salad platter includes three salads of your choice--perhaps curried cauliflower, marinated beets, or roasted Brussels sprouts--plus toasted foccacia bread.  From 4 p.m. on, buy a pint and get a free slice of pizza.  Popular as a hangout for students and travel writers completing guidebooks, this spacious coffeehouse has several large rooms with high ceilings and provides plenty of outlets, wi-fi, and good people watching, plus outdoor seating is available in front. 
interior at Espresso Roma in Berkeley, California
interior at Espresso Roma in Berkeley, California

Espresso Roma Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers