Redwood Room Visit
I was downtown on Thursday after the theater with friends and wanted to nip in for a drink at the new Redwood Room.
First you are directed by one of many doormen to the side entrance--we thought "oh boy -- they think we are riff raft and we are going thru the back door!" but no, it's the new entrance. After negotiating the velvet ropes and annoying door man we finally made it in-- but with a bad first impression of: this place is gonna be too snooty and LA for good ole provincial SF. But I was surprised to find the place packed with Sex and the City wannabe's and social-type's galore. The staff was extremely nice and down to earth but actress-model types. It was all a bit much--we had cocktails which were delicious (I loved my light and dark rum mojito) but $10 each, and the dessert was a fun and HUGE chocolate mousse cake with cookies and vanilla ice cream with butter brittle. Too sugary and expensive at $15.
As I do not frequent these types of places it was an adventure--but too much for my low-key style. I wonder what kind of year it will have with the market the way it is. I have a feeling they will need to have alot of star sightings and PR to make it successful. I won't be returning though-- I really miss the old Redwood Room too much.
What they did is CRIMINAL. They've destroyed an artifact of Old San Francisco, a cultural masterpiece.
What's most depressing is that they remodeled it into a cheezy nouveau riche velvet-rope place at a time where the clientele for such places is dying out. Places like the Bubble Lounge are empty. What a horrible waste.
Why hasn't the Redwood Room been officially designated a local landmark and protected? The City should have been worrying about this, not about the looks of the new Prada store (who cares?).
The old Redwood Room was a great destination for an old SF night, but the prices were always high. It is gross to me the celebrity gloss of the thing. So NOT SF, and so gross sounding I have been afraid to go. That you said it was very LA reminded me why I chose to move to SF from LA in 1977.
Another trend that LA imported was the IMPRESSIVE dining room. We used to have so many hole-in-the wall places in SF, where you could get a stunning meal in bare bones surroundings for very few pennies. Then something happened --where places were decorated extensively a la LA. In LA, where the food was not usually up to snuff but the decor was impressive--and I am talking late 70's early 80's where it was so true, thing have changed, now perhaps but it did used to be hard to get a decent meal in LA. Yes you could get one at the big expense account places (and I got my share), but you really had to check where you were going to eat.
The big exception, for LA, is that it is the home of the hole-in-the-wall junk food place. SF is too small for anywhere to be unknown. But LA is great for burgers and carwash taco joints. The joints save LA. Stop the pretension, already.
When I lived in LA and people used to ask where to eat in SF, I'd say 'eat anywhere! You can't just eat anywhere in LA or you are risking a really gross meal. People actually eat at chains like Marie Callendars and order dinner. Can you believe it?
SF was so much better and no place survived if it was not good. In LA really gross places survive because most people seem to have no taste and they just want quantity of food over quality.
Am I wrong or just outdated? Hey, I am a Valley girl, born and bred, but my own daughter is forbidden to say
"really?' 'like' 'awesome' and (my Mom's worst nightmare) 'bitchen'.
re: Anne H.
I think you put your finger on what disturbs me about all the Redwood Room/Asia de Cuba reports.
They've taken something that was uniquely San Francisco and turned it into something that is basically a high-end chain.
Pseudo-LA/NY glamour is, as you so correctly said, so NOT SF.
Thanks for the report -- I've been avoiding going in, and you've confirmed my worst fears! I can't figure out why they took such a classic establishment and screwed it up as badly as this. I still have fond memories of a time when the waitress would bring out "her" humidor if you wanted a cigar in the RR (naturally, this was before the indoor smoking ban). It was such a great place, and the staff and hotel took great pride in it. Now I understand they only left the redwood walls and columns in place because of the vehement insistence of various SF historical societies! Once again, the barbarians are at the gate...