I was preparing for an evening of gulping and masticating when I happened to notice that I was putting on a necktie. Since I've donned a tie on fewer than half a dozen occasions during my dozen years as a restaurant critic, it was a noteworthy moment. I reflected. The other times I did so on company time were for a variety of not necessarily culinary reasons: a farewell dinner, a high-toned brunch, the sorts of get-togethers at which a touch of class lends a note of respect or interest. Occasionally, in the plusher dining palaces, the tie was employed in sartorial self-defense. This time was different, though. This time I was going to Trader Vic's.You don't have to wear a necktie to get into Trader Vic's; in fact I can't think of any place anymore where you have to wear a necktie. This is a departure. Back in the day, when San Francisco's elite could make dining out as viscerally snobbish an exercise as it still is in Paris and New York, the San Francisco branch of Trader Vic's (and its lushly upholstered inner sanctum, the Captain's Cabin) was our own Stork Club. Hans Brandt, the Trader's trusted captain, saw to the culinary desires of his mink-swathed clientele like a suave, soothing family retainer. Even Lucius Beebe, that chronicler of all things hoity-toity, bestowed his blessings on the place, deigning to write... More >>>
Belly up to the bar and survey the Gilligan-esque décor at Trader Vic's.