I love the classic Southern California / Northern California dichotomy. Los Angeles has drop-dead gorgeous Hollywood celebrities and is the epicenter for glitz, fashion, glamour, and anorexia. Meanwhile, San Francisco epitomizes political and sexual open-mindness, progressive thinking, and musty, unshaven armpits.
But, not all is day and night between these two sister cities. San Francisco has its own celebs, or what we think is a close enough equivalent: the Board of Supervisors and the city's Mayor, Mayor Gavin Newsom. These people have attained celeb status here in the Bay Area--god knows why. Well, it is not hard to see why Gavin Newsom is a superstar + rock god. Men and women alike idolize his dreamy good looks.
A friend of mine (who is now a Angeleno, but originally was a SF native in its truest form) came up to visit with me this past weekend, and we gossiped and ranted about San Francisco city politics and about Mayor Newsom's love life.
We gossiped in the only place that you can gossip openly in the city: the beautiful Beach Chalet Brewery and Restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean and nestled at the western most end of Golden Gate Park.
Had we been dining just a few blocks away, we would have had to hush our voices to an undetectable murmur, to prevent from being overheard. However, clanking of the silverware against the generous plates, and the clamorous discussions at each table drowned out our conversation. With the hustle and bustle of the restaurant patrons enjoying their weekend brunch, our voices were sufficiently obscured.
"Did you hear that Gavin's ex-wife is now engaged?"
"I thought she was dating that anchor from CNN! Well, Gavin broke up with Sophia Milos, the girl from CSI: Miami!"
At Beach Chalet, the gossip is great, but the visual scenery is even better. The breakfast foods are worthy of a hungry diner, but diners come for the California ambiance and the stunning view of the beach on a clear day. Just like Mayor Gavin Newsom is the poster child for San Francisco, the Beach Chalet is the poster restaurant the "best" of San Francisco. As you sit and bask in the warm sunlight streaming in from the ceiling-high windows, it is hard not to be entranced by the expansive beach view of the aqua-blue Pacific Ocean and the frothy ocean waves foaming onto the sand and sweeping back into the sea.
The breakfasts are satisfying. My recommendations: order the eggs with runny yolk insides, so that you can put the crusty slices of sourdough bread (a San Francisco invention) to use, sponging up the sunny and creamy yolk gravy, so that the yolks soak into and soften the bread. Also, instead of choosing breakfast meats like sausage or bacon, ask for the fresh fruit dish. That way, you will be able to taste the freshness, flavorfulness, and richness of California grown produce. Say it with me now in an Arnold Schwarzenegger-accent, "Support Caleefornyuh!"
Downstairs, visitors to the Beach Chalet can peruse the area that earned Beach Chalet its designation as a "historical landmark." Classic California murals elegantly grace the plaster walls and exert a breathtaking influence on the historical building. The murals portray the typical American lives of The Great Gatsby-1920s-era citizens of San Francisco, and the chocolate and cream colors employed are very Diego Rivera-esque. The visually stunning artwork is not limited to the elaborate murals, but also include detailed wood carvings, and polished glass display cases full of historical ornaments and newspaper clippings.
After and before brunch, don't forget to enjoy the flower gardens in Golden Gate park, gardens that closely cradle Beach Chalet and its outdoor restaurant component, Park Chalet, where upscale wines and sizzling barbequed ribs are served with a gourmet California-flair. When my friend and I casually strolled through the surrounding park area, we were fortunate to chance upon the seasonal flowers, including gargantuan purple blossoms that perfumed the air with their sweet fragrance. Also, whether you are a visitor or a resident of San Francisco, don't forget to admire the rustic and weathered windmill that sits at the end of the park nearby. A walk in the adjacent Golden Gate Park will help to burn up the calories, and work up an appetite for your next meal.
The sheer beauty of the Beach Chalet should be enough to compel you to visit them. Undoubtedly, the Beach Chalet (and Mayor Newsom) typify all that is good in San Francisco--they are the real "San Francisco treats."