I recently spent the better part of three weeks in San Francisco for work. At the beginning of my last week there I was talking to my mom on the phone, when she asked me incredulously, “You haven’t been to Tadich’s yet?”
My parents lived in San Francisco in the late sixties, before I was “a twinkle in Godzilla’s eye,” as my eldest brother likes to say. My dad was working for the Wall Street Journal, covering the San Francisco banks. My mom still likes to tell stories about seeing hippies wander through restaurants eating the scraps of food others left behind. Let’s just say that wasn’t their style.
In the early nineties, while one of my brothers was interning at Silicon Graphics, I took a trip with my parents to their old stomping grounds. We visited the Tadich Grill and I vaguely recall having a great meal there. But I know myself well enough not to trust my memories. Still, I figured I should check it out while I had the opportunity.
This window was one of my few lasting memories of my last visit. “The Original Cold Day Restaurant” is one of the better taglines I can recall. I have no idea what that means, and I like that. A sense of mystery is too often missing in modern marketing, which prefers to hit you over the head with focus-group-tested platitudes. Also, associating yourself with something as depressing as a cold day is exactly the sort of move that only a place with great food can get away with.
When you read about Tadich’s on Yelp, one phrase that comes up over and over again is “old school.” Nothing exemplifies that more than the branded cable car drink stirrers. Also, notice the logo on the napkin in the background. Much like most businesses in Texas, this place just won’t let you forget where you are.
This is what a bowl of clam chowder looks like after being destroyed by yours truly. Again, note the logo. Sort of looks like a baseball jersey. (I am resisting saying something about these guys winning the world series of seafood.)
There are several things to notice in this photo. First of all, that massive shrimp sitting atop the brothy goodness known as cioppino? Not something we find in Austin. Second, that butter-soaked piece of garlic bread on the right? Dipped into a little broth, one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Third, that other piece of garlic bread on the left? Not gonna lie, a little burned, but I tore it up anyway. That piece of sourdough in the background? Obliterated. I may have eaten it in one bite, but my memory may have been clouded at this point due to insulin shock. I’m pretty sure I licked those pats of butter of the plate in the back, too. Somewhere in there I had some great seafood, but I mostly remember the bread.
God only knows why I thought ordering bread pudding was a good idea at this point. I once ate lunch with a man who, after ordering a second plate of french fries (“this was not enough,” he tells the waitress), proceeded to inject himself with insulin at the table. That was a little strange, but my decision to have more bread in this instance was flatout insane. But sometimes when you’re eating great food, you just don’t want to give up.
I’m still trying to shed the ten or so pounds I gained in San Francisco, but I can’t say I wouldn’t do it all over again.