Friday, May 29, 2015

San Francisco: Cornell Hotel de France and Restaurant Jeanne d’Arc


Cornell Hotel de France  715 Bush St./Mason St., 2 blks. from Union Square, (800) 232-9698, (415) 421-3154.  6 floors; 58 rooms.  Full breakfast; restaurant.  Self- parking $28 (across street).  This 1910 building has been restyled into a French country-style hotel, with each room individually decorated.  
entrance to Cornell Hotel de France in San Francisco

The owner has been employing an artist three days a week for 15 years to decorate the interior with original art.  So doors, walls, and more throughout sport delightful artistic details.
painted tropical detail at Cornell Hotel de France in San Francisco

Each guest floor is dedicated to one artist and features reproductions of their works.  My floor, the 6th, featured Gaugin, while another floor spotlighted Matisse.
Matisse floor at Cornell Hotel de France in San Francisco

The fresh yet vintage room decor was a sweet mix of pastel paint, wallpaper, and famous art prints by other artists.  There is no air conditioning, but in San Francisco that isn’t usually a problem and, joy of joys, the windows open and let in a lovely breeze.  And, since my room faced east and the cable cars were less than a block away, I could hear the iconic sounds of clanging bells and even buzzing cables.  The sounds stopped at some point in the night, and I knew it was morning when they began again.  A complimentary bacon-and-eggs American breakfast is served in the restaurant in the morning, but French toast is also an option.  The hotel’s original, elegant, and automated four-person Otis elevator—the owner thinks it might date to 1850 and that it possibly hails from NYC--continues to deliver guests where they want to go.
vintage Otis elevator at Cornell Hotel de France in San Francisco

Allow time to explore.  You are just a few blocks from Union Square and from the gates of Chinatown.  And, should you be wanting to take a walk on the wild side, a male strip club is just next door. 

Restaurant Jeanne d’Arc  D Tu-Sat.  This low-profile subterranean French restaurant is popular with aficionados of authentic French cuisine as well as with those who appreciate a bargain.  
Restaurant Jeanne d'Arc at Cornell Hotel de France in San Francisco

The only menu option is a four-course, prix-fixe dinner ($48) that includes soup, salad, entrée, and dessert.  The approximately ten entrée choices change daily, depending on current fresh and seasonal ingredients, and include fish, rabbit, and lamb.  More than 75 well-priced French and Californian selections are on the wine list.  Most guests enter the dining room after exiting that turn-of-the-century Otis elevator, which sets the mood for an unusual dining experience.  The atmospheric restaurant space reminded me of a castle dungeon I once dined in.  Meant to evoke medieval times, this inner sanctum features arched doorways and several cozy dining nooks, and the decor consists of tapestries, stained glass windows made in Chartres,
Chartres stainted-glass window at Restaurant Jeanne d'Arc in San Francisco

assorted artifacts, paintings, hand-painted wall murals and frescos, vintage posters and statues, and numerous tributes to Joan of Arc.
Joan of Arc statue at Restaurant Jeanne d'Arc in San Francisco

The fact that the owner hails from Orleans in France--the town of Joan of Arc—explains the theme.  This feast for the eyes complements the cuisine, making for a satisfying evening.  My “salade des iles du sud” was a simple but delicious composed circle layered with shredded mango, shrimp, and avocado made tangy with a balsamic dressing.
salade des iles du sud at Restaurant Jeanne d'Arc in San Francisco

My dining partner selected a colorful “salade de molinon” featuring spinach with goat cheese, fresh berries, and glazed walnuts.
salade de molinon at Restaurant Jeanne d'Arc in San Francisco

For entrees it was “bouillabaisse” for him
bouillabaisse at Restaurant Jeanne d'Arc in San Francisco

and “saumon nouvelle Orleans” for me.  Though my dish was described as blackened, it was more topped with a tasty peppery sauce.
saumon nouvelle Orleans at Restaurant Jeanne d'Arc in San Francisco

You don't see a souffle on a menu every day, so even though I’d been advised that the “fraisier” French strawberry cream cake was a winner, we both opted for the “souffle au grand marnier” and were not disappointed.
 souffle au grand marnier at Restaurant Jeanne d'Arc in San Francisco

On Saturday nights, this hopelessly romantic experience is enhanced further with live violin music.

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

11 comments:

  1. Wow that food looks amazing, can I have a taste please?

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  2. I adore French food and the mango salad looks to die for. It is so fun to escape into a different atmosphere, and they've managed to put wonderful details at the Cornell Hotel de France to make you feel as though you have.

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  3. Wow, what a boutique hotel! Certainly will now come up as an option for another stay in the city by the bay!!! Thanks Carole.

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  4. Cornell Hotel de France looks like a delightful place to stay in San Francisco. I like that each floor is dedicated to a different artist.

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  5. The Cornell Hotel de France looks like the perfect destination for a homesick Frenchman! I love the details that take the experience into the New World though--American breakfast to name just one. What a treat it would be to stay over for Saturday-evening-with-violins!

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  6. That hotel seems to have a lovely period feel, with the art and interior decoration. And the food looks great - if I get back to San Francisco I'll have to look out for it.

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  7. I will be visiting San Francisco this summer and my sister will join me for a few days - maybe I will treat her to a meal at Cornell Hotel de France - I think she would love it!

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  8. Who needs to go to France? What an incredible find with a treasure trove of 15 years of art! I'd love to visit Cornell Hotel de France!

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  9. I hadn't heard of either San Francisco's Cornell Hotel de France or Restaurant Jeanne d’Arc. They look wonderful. Vintage decor and stunning food- my kind of place!

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  10. It's been over 20 years since I was last in San Francisco. When I go back I will definitely be staying at Cornell Hotel. I love the idea of decorating each room for a specific artist! And the food of Jeanne D'Arc makes my mouth water. I'll take the salade de molinon and the saumon nouvelle Orleans! YUM!

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  11. I love the art and details in both the Cornell Hotel de France and Restaurant Jeanne d'Arc. Your meal looks delicious!

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