To those of us who grew up in Northern California, “The City” means only one place, San Francisco. Since we are always looking to fulfill our bucket list items, as soon as we got back to the US, Mike found affordable tickets to Hamilton for a Wednesday night in late January. This show has been a sellout on Broadway for several years and we have longed to see it. We jumped at the change to go.
Making a Night of It
Because we are homeless, we can be flexible about where we sleep and we thought it would be great to just spend the night in San Francisco when we saw the show. In for a penny, in for a pound, we should also have dinner, right? To make things even more memorable, it turned out to be Restaurant Week in SF, which we have always wanted to try.
Restaurant Week apparently happens periodically in lots of major cities and it is where restaurants offer special Prix Fixe menus in an effort to draw new customers. So, I spent a few hours looking at menus, as my mouth watered, and picked the Matilde French Bistro in the SOMA neighborhood. I’m a sucker for French food and I didn’t make a mistake.
While the Matilde French Bistro is right on 5th street, our Lyft driver almost blew right by it. We arrived a few minutes before our 5:30 reservation thinking we could get in a little earlier because the show started at 7 pm, but no luck. They didn’t open until exactly 5:30, by which time there were two other groups waiting outside. However, this delay left us enough time to peruse the bodega next door for a bottle of wine. We happily purchased a 2015 bottle of Robert Hall Shiraz that was outstanding.
Now about the food. The prix fixe had a choice of two appetizers, four entrees, and 3 desserts. We both had a wonderful country pate appetizer, which was served with spicy Dijon mustard and gherkins. For our entrees, I chose the hanger steak frites and Mike ordered a seafood risotto. As soon as the entrees arrived, we tucked in and I can say that the beef was fantastic. Steak frites can be really good but frequently it isn’t, so I scored. Mike’s risotto was wonderful but when he was nearly done with it, we both realized that he had gotten the mushroom risotto and not the seafood risotto. When we told the staff, they rapidly produced a half order of the seafood risotto for Mike. Both risottos were wonderful but we actually preferred the mushroom risotto more.
Dessert deserves its own paragraph. Our choices were a floating island, a chocolate mousse, and a flourless chocolate cake. I definitely won on this course as I ordered the floating island, which was a baseball-sized mound of soft meringue floating in a bowl of caramel syrup and crème anglaise. This was the best dessert I have had in years. Mike had the chocolate cake, which was good but nothing like the floating island. We would highly recommend the Mathilde French Bistro the next time you are in The City.
While we were driving through the great state of Nevada, I was online looking at hotels in the city. As many people know, SF hotel rooms are usually small, just OK, and really expensive. Of course, I was looking for something better that wouldn’t break the bank. What I found was The Donatello. I have over the years mentioned this place to Mike but we have never stayed here together. The reason I mention it is that I did stay here with a boyfriend when I was about 20 years old and at the time it was the nicest hotel I had ever stayed at. Even at that time, it was a vacation ownership property but you could book it like a hotel.
The Donatello is near Union Square, which is a great location for shopping, restaurants, and the theatre. In addition, it actually turned out to be reasonably priced for what you get, except the parking was pretty pricey. But in the end, we decided the convenience of just valet parking the car onsite was worth the extra $10 over the nearest parking lot. The moment of truth for me was when we entered the room, was it really as nice as I remembered was? Well thankfully, the answer was yes. The room was huge by city standards, the bed was comfortable with great linen, there was a couch, a desk, a fridge, and a microwave, and best of all for us, two folding luggage racks. In all our months of travel, it turns out having a place to open up our suitcases that isn’t the floor has become a really big deal to us. We were thrilled and the shower was pretty nice too.
I just mentioned the great location, but in all fairness, if you are only there for one night you won’t really have time to fully explore the surrounding area. So, I say stay for more than one night, there are many things to do in San Francisco including riding a cable car, going to Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Chrissy Field and loads of other places that can be found in your favorite activities guide.
I can’t say enough about the show, except that we knew nothing about the format or the history of Alexander Hamilton. Fortunately, both were pretty easy to figure out without reading the program. The show was creative with most of the dialog in RAP format and real musical numbers in between. It was fast-moving, funny and sad, all set to a great musical score. I would highly recommend the show to everyone. Make an effort to see it when it comes to your neighborhood.
What would you do if you had one night in San Francisco?