Way back when [1908 to be exact] the House of Shields opened its doors to customers. It was a place I last got to visit sometime in the late 80’s early 90’s. It had a feel to it like a Bogart movie. Over the years it retained some of the Victorian dusty feel with a bit of an art deco upgrade from the 20’s.
The food was old school. I remember my meal there. Pork tenderloin medallions with mashed potatoes and gravy and some sort of sauted vegetable that was probably there more for decoration than eating. When was the last time you saw that on the menu. I also remember our waiter, “Vinny” in his tuxedoed waiter’s uniform suggested them. He was right. They were great and I think that might have set me off on my now well developed love of pork.
House of Shields was classic San Francisco, Herb Caen and Charles McCabe used to write about it frequently in their columns, yet when it closed it didn’t look closed. It looked more like, “we aren’t open yet.” I haven’t been back since it opened in mid-December, but I think I might make a trip back for old times sake. While I hear a lot about their chef in the press I don’t see any menu on their website and it seems they’re mostly focused on the bar which has now been taken over by retro hipsters ordering appletini’s instead of the old days of, “Gimme something big and strong” which meant a double scotch, no ice. You didn’t call out a brand name, you didn’t even need to call out what kind of liquor your were ordering.
During prohibition what is now their private dinning room served as a speakeasy that dinner guests could sneak off to for “something big and strong” in between bites of their meal. I have a sneaking suspicion that while the House of Shields is back in operation and the inside has been restored, the new hipster crowd might just kill off that old Bogart movie feel, but you never know.
I noticed that they feature live music on weekends and the bands get to keep 90% of the $5 cover charge at the door. Not too shabby for musicians and definitely not like the pay to play of the 80’s for bands.[mappress mapid=”8″]