Garden Court - In 1875 this space was a driveway used as the carriage entrance to the brand new Palace Hotel. After the 1906 earthquake, the space was enclosed with a Victorian glass ceiling and transformed into the Garden Court. It is quite simply the most stunningly beautiful public room in San Francisco, and has seen a few grand events in its time. In true utopian San Francisco fashion, official events in 1919 and 1945 honored the Versailles Treaty and the founding of the United Nations. It is an amazing space with gilded marble columns, crystal chandeliers, mirrored doors, potted palms and the incredible stained glass ceiling. Oh yes, the food. Well, food isn't the point. It isn't bad, but it isn't especially scrumptious and delicious either. A Sunday Brunch Buffet is always packed as is Saturday Afternoon Tea. Lunch and breakfast are also served. If you go to the Brunch (and you should -once- especially if relatives are visiting) make certain to get a reservation, and for God's Sake, dress up! Recommended.
Globe - Housed in a former livery stable with bare brick walls, Globe is open until 1 a.m. and serves seriously good food until then. Thus, if you get out of a Wagner opera at 11:30 or so, you can still hoof it on over to Globe and have a fine meal. However, even if Globe closed at 10:00 like scores of other killjoy places in the city, it would still be worth eating at, as the food is really good. The seared scallop appetizer is especially fine, and entrees include creative and expertly prepared versions of the standard fish, chicken, pork chop, steak, and pasta themes. The dinner service is made up of an eclectic collection of one-off ceramics, which adds to the charm. Recommended.
Grand Café - When you are seated in the former ballroom of the Monaco Hotel you can marvel at the 25' ceiling and imagine a chamber orchestra playing on the balcony, Just don't look at things too hard, as the details in the room are a bit jarring. I couldn't quite figure out what all of the rabbits were about; the wood is clearly 1/8" veneered paneling; and the gigantic amber-glass chandeliers look cheap (plastic?) and out of proportion. However, none of this matters, because the food here is good. A new chef took over in the spring of 2002 and made a big improvement. Out front by the bar, there is a "Petite Cafe" (get it) with an abbreviated menu, which is really outstanding when you need a pick me up after the theater or an especially stressful day at Saks Fifth Avenue. And for dinner, walk back to the "Grand Cafe" and partake of some expertly prepared food from the surprisingly modest selection of dishes on the large (11" x 17") menu. (Modest menus are a good thing in my restaurant universe. No place with an affordable staff can really prepare 100 dishes to top-notch quality). I can personally vouch for the quality of the warm wild mushroom tart with black truffle sabayon, as well as the warm asparagus with sauce gribiche and parmesan. For entrees, try the lamb loin with a mint & mustard crust (!), or the duck breast with braised endive, a port reduction and brandied cherries. (Sabayon: aka. zabaglione, a whipped sauce made from egg yolks, wine and sugar. Gribiche: a sauce made from hard boiled eggs, vinegar, oil, cornichons and herbs.) Grand Cafe also features a daily Plat du Jour each of which is solid French Bistro food. (Examples: Monday, Sole Meuniere, Wednesdays, Blanquette de Veau, Friday, Bouillabaisse). Recommended.