This past weekend in San Francisco I had a working lunch in the Hyatt Regency’s Eclipse Café. The experience turned out to be delightful on two very different fronts.
First, the Café is located in the hotel’s vast, soaring atrium lobby, which has been featured in major films. Completed in the early 1970s and designed by architect John Portman, this 300-foot long by 170-foot high room still has the capacity to stun with its sleek modernity. A bank of streamlined, capsule-shaped, glass-enclosed elevators zoom silently up and down. Touches of brass reflect sunlight from the narrow skylight, a zero-edge fountain surrounds a free-form gilded aluminum sculpture by Charles Perry. In this space, asymmetry doesn’t just rule—it makes sense. I live in the Bay Area and have been in this atrium a good many times over the years, but each time it’s a revelation.
The second delightful aspect was lunch itself. The menu was a masterpiece of updated, slightly innovative comfort foods: Fritto Misto (crispy Monterey calamari, Pacific shrimp, Blue Point oysters, Mediterranean vegetables, chipotle aïoli); a Grilled Cheese Sandwich made with aged cheddar and Sonoma pepper jack on thick-sliced sourdough; a trio of French-Vidalia Onion Soup (you got all three, separately topped with Gruyere, Provolone, Pepper Jack).
I almost went for the Hobbs Prosciutto & Grilled Fulton Valley Chicken Panini, but in the end opted for a “Build Your Own Lunch” selection. That’s where you get to choose an entrée and select two sides from a tempting list. My choices: the Mini Jumbo Lump & Dungeness Crab Cake Sandwiches on toasted brioche, French Onion Soup, and Sonoma Greens with Goat Cheese, Bacon, Tomato, Cucumber, and Pesto Vinaigrette.
All this, against the dramatic backdrop of soaring atrium, space-age elevators, brass and chrome and light. If only more meetings were like this!