Ladies brunch at the Cliff House

It’s been difficult to find time to get out for proper adventuring in SF, though I’ve been fortunate with my dread maintenance to have hit it off with K, who’s been taking me, over these past few months, from black into blonde territory. She invited me to join her and some friends for a Ladies Brunch at the Cliff House down by Ocean Beach as she’s getting married on Halloween. How fun!

I love an opportunity to dress up, and this was the perfect occasion to break out my vintage crochet gloves. I don’t actually know how vintage they are, but being that I bought them at a secondhand store in Amsterdam, I like to pretend they have a pedigree going back to the Victorian era.

I took the N-train to the end of the line in Outer Sunset and met up with K and the other girls where we carpooled up to the Cliff House. SF manages to be amazingly picturesque in almost any direction, but this restaurant being perched on the edge of a seaside cliff (as the name describes) afforded it some truly marvelous views. Yes, I’m using the work “marvelous” because it meshes nicely with my vintage gloves ;)

modern day view of the Cliff House

The Cliff House is an historic building that has survived more than a couple different incarnations. The first Cliff House was built in 1858 out of the timber of a floundered ship. The second was built in 1863 and became somewhat of a well-to-do tourist attraction even then.

In 1883 the Cliff House was purchased by multimillionaire Adolph Sutro but suffered severe damage in a dynamite explosion that demolished the north wing. If that wasn’t drama enough, after being rebuilt, the building was completely destroyed on Christmas night 1894, the result of a defective flue.

Sutro rebuilt the Cliff House yet again in 1896 as a seven-story Victorian Chateau, followed by construction on the Sutro Baths immediately north. These baths offered seven pools: one fresh water, and six in varying temperatures and mineral content. Queue the throngs of SF visitors arriving via trains and bicycles and Sunday carts.

the old Sutro Baths

While the Cliff House managed to survive the earthquake of 1906, it burnt down completely the following year, after which it was rebuilt yet again under the direction of Sutro’s daughter, this time in a neo-classical style.

The venue changed owners in 1937, experience a remodel, and passed into the care of the National Park Service in 1977, now a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It was renovated in 2003 and restored to its 1909 look and overlooks the ruins of the old Sutro Baths, which burned down in 1966.

The Cliff House now houses two restaurants: the Bistro for more casual dining, and the Terrace Room, which is where our party went. We had a nice corner table with an impressive view of the beach and rocks and parts of the Sutros ruins.

corner table :)

view from our table

sun getting more intense, i can’t get over that view!

Between the five of us we shared some truly delectable edibles.


Petite Romaine Caesar Salad
Dungeness Crab Cakes
Paprika Shrimp with Grilled Baguette
Tuna Tartare

And then Entrees:

Skirt Steak, Truffle Fries, and Red Wine Onion Compote (discarded)
Pressed Pork Sandwich and Yam Fries

There was, of course, much champagne too, and toasts to old friends and new. What a beautiful day having spent time with such lovely ladies and having learned another interesting piece of SF history!

and walking back to the car, a last look out over the Sutro Baths ruins

Oh, and once again, congratulations to K on her upcoming nuptials!


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