January 24, 2019
Leave your thoughts
You still have things to celebrate. People you love. Presents to buy. And I just came upon this remarkable offering from the wonderful Celia Sack at Omnivore books.
She’s bought a treasure-trove of old Chez Panisse menus from Fritz Streiff, who has been a part of the restaurant pretty much since the beginning. Among the many things Fritz has been at Chez Panisse, is the voice of Alice Waters; he’s collaborated on many of her books.
And Alice has never done anything by half measures. She’s had great artists – David Goines, Patty Curtan, Wesley Tanner, among many others – design her menus. And I imagine there’s something here that would make just about anyone happy. The prices are definitely right; these vintage menus are both food history and gorgeous art.
Looking for wrapping paper the other day, I came upon a small trove of old menus from St. Helena, when it was a quieter place than it is today.
The original French Laundry, under Don and Sally Schmitt, was a lovely, simple place much beloved by local winemakers. (Don was also the town mayor.) They had the best wine list: everyone around them was deeply represented. And they served wonderful California food.
Mustard’s was another beloved local establishment. Cindy Pawlcyn had her finger on the food pulse; she once called her place a “deluxe truckstop.” And unlike most of the old places in the Valley, Mustard’s is still going strong, still pleasing people.
Miramonte was more representative of what the tourists wanted…
And then there was Doidge’s.
I found these pages floating about, with nothing to tell me what restaurant they belonged to. But I’m pretty sure this was Campanile – probably the restaurant that made me the happiest.
I loved the food that Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton were making – and I loved the way the restaurant (designed by Josh Schweitzer) looked. There was a fountain in the front, filled with goldfish, which is why Nick called it “the fishy restaurant.”
Even today, thirty years later, this menu remains incredibly appealing. I think they were the first to serve warm, just-made mozzarella in LA. And I know they were the first to serve those great Persian mulberries.