Neiman Marcus San Francisco is as much a food as a fashion destination. After all, the Union Square venue is home to The Rotunda restaurant, located on the fourth floor, beneath its landmark architectural centerpiece: the opulent, elliptical stained-glass dome that makes for an exquisite backdrop for selfies and Drew Altizer–snapped portraits alike (as well as the Gazette’s own “Most Eligibles” photo shoot earlier this year).
Younger San Franciscans who walk past Neiman Marcus, the luxury department store on the southeast corner of Union Square, might see a high-end…
Long frequented by the City’s society set for elegant lunches and charitable events, not to mention beloved for bridal and baby showers, The Rotunda also falls in the everyday indulgence category — welcoming shoppers desiring a break from the dressing rooms, plus anyone simply looking to dine in one of San Francisco’s most iconic settings.
This month, in commemoration of the store’s 40th anniversary, keep an eye out for special menu items. No matter what arrives at the table after the signature popovers with strawberry butter, a meal here is more than just sustenance. It’s a memory in the making — at times joyous, at times poignant — as evidenced by those shared by these Rotunda enthusiasts.
“In 2010, I co-hosted a lunch with Damion Matthews for 36 people in the private dining room in honor of Carmen Marc Valvo, after his showing during New York Fashion Week. I think what made this one of the more fashionably chic luncheons of the year was the incredible mix of iconic San Francisco fashionistas in their 20s through 80s — Isha Abdullah, Jeanne Taylor, Robin Collins, Patricia Sprincin — and The Rotunda was the perfect, glamorous setting!”
— Joel Goodrich
“My grandma knew her little grandson was very much into fashion. I would sketch the designs I saw on spokesmodel competitions on Star Search each week. She didn’t speak English or drive, but one winter, she took me on a bus to Union Square from her house in the Richmond District. She didn’t have much money, but she was oddly almost goading me to buy something nice. I ended up picking a moss green V-neck sweater — very ’90s prep. We stumbled into The Rotunda. It was glorious. The stained-glass ceiling. The elegant waiters buzzing around. The beautiful people enjoying afternoon tea. My grandma took one look and we turned away. She felt out of place. That was the last time we went shopping. She passed away shortly after from cancer. It was her last gift to me — not the sweater, but the experience. Decades later, when I filmed my Check, Please! Bay Area segment at The Rotunda, I couldn’t help but look up to the stained-glass dome and whisper, ‘Look, Grandma, I made it.’”
— Herman Chan
“One of my fondest memories was when I had lunch with five of my fashionista girlfriends right after the reopening of the beautiful Rotunda [last year]. The most exciting part of the lunch was when the new chef, Erik Harrelson, came to introduce himself, as we were surrounded by beautiful models walking around the tables showing all the new designs for the following season. Being at The Rotunda gave us an illusion that there was no pandemic and everything was back to normal.”