St Francis Hotel, San Francisco 1915 (1)
The St. Francis Hotel was established by the trustees of the estate of Charles Crocker of ‘The Big Four’ railroad magnates who had built the western portion of the transcontinental railway. It was originally meant to be called The Crocker Hotel but instead it took the name of one of the earliest California Gold Rush hotels, the St. Francis.
The hotel opened on March 21, 1904, and, along with the even older Palace Hotel on Market Street, immediately became one of the city's most prestigious addresses.
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 badly frightened the guests but did no structural damage to the hotel. John Farish, a mining engineer staying at the hotel, described the experience: ‘I was awakened by a loud rumbling noise which could be compared to the mixed sound of a strong wind rushing through a forest and the breaking of waves against a cliff...there began a series of the liveliest motions imaginable, accompanied by a creaking, grinding, rasping sound, followed by tremendous crashes as the cornices of adjoining buildings and chimneys tottered to the ground.’ Actor John Barrymore was also staying at the hotel at the time of the quake, partying with a young woman and drinking champagne. He was seen still drunk and in his evening clothes the following day, searching amidst the chaos for a bar with whisky.
The chef at the time of this elegant menu, which features birds delicately drawn by a Japanese artist, was Victor Hirtzler. He trained in Paris and had been a food taster and cook for Czar Nicholas II and chef de cuisine for Carlos I of Portugal. He remained chef of the St Francis from its opening until 1926.
Hirtzler was a great self-promoter and named several dishes after himself including Crab Cocktail Victor, Chicken Salad Victor as well as Victor Dressing and Celery Victor. He also endeared himself to his famous guests by naming dishes after them, including Sarah Bernhardt and Enrico Caruso.
Note that luncheon and buffet specialties were crossed out in pencil on this 1915 menu.
Gallery quality Giclée print on natural white, matte, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper using Epson K3 archival inks. Custom printed with border for matting and framing.
All printed in USA.