I went to Alfred's last night for the first time in awhile. It's my favourite place for a steak in SF, very comfortable and delicious. I was worried about the place after reading here that they were no longer open for lunch. But what I found last night (a Thursday) was the place totally packed and some changes, not all for the better.
First, the packed. I was able to call at 7:30 for a table for two at 8pm, so it wasn't overflowing. But they had both dining rooms full as well as the private rooms past the kitchen. I also noticed a lot more tourists there than I'd ever seen before. All great news for their business.
Now for the bad stuff.. First, they've done away with the valet parking. Call me lazy but I really appreciate valet in the city. They are validating parking at a nearby garage, so it's not a big deal, but I'm sad to see it go.
Second, I noticed a lot more chaos in the staff than usual. Sitting at the bar I heard at least two arguments about who was responsible for what, and in general the staff seemed really harried. Maybe because it was more busy than usual? The place has always been a bit nutty but this was a bit much. Then again the actual service we got was excellent, so no real complaint here.
They've changed the menu a bit, simplified it. They only have two size steaks, having dropped the smallest option. A few non-steak dishes seem to have been removed. The wine list was better than I remember seeing it in a while. (Chowhound tip: they have a reserve list if you ask for it).
And the food was all excellent. I love their oysters rockefeller. Our filets were fantastic. They still have the maddening habit of bringing the main course to the table before we're done with our salads, but at least they were responsive when we shooed them away.
I tried to draw our waiter out about the implications of them being closed for lunch. He looked sad, but also remarked that lunch was not profitable for them. They've also cut out Monday night service.
Overall, the news was mostly good. Looks like they're streamlining the business a bit. But the place was busy and the food was excellent!