San Francisco’s iconic hotel, Taj Campton Place, is known for its fusion of modern luxury and warm, hospitable service. Situated above all the hustle and bustle of Union Square, it offers sweeping views of the cityscape, as well as a two Michelin star dining experience at the eponymous Campton Place restaurant, run by Executive Chef Srijith Gopinathan.
While this dining option is not yet open to customers, Taj Campton Place has just reopened its bar & bistro, best known for its comfort food, handcrafted cocktails and intimate ambiance. Its elegant and refined ambiance is perfect for business meetings, after-shopping dinners, locals in need of a drink and more. Located in the heart of downtown San Francisco’s shopping and dining district, it’s a popular place to relax, so much so that seating is only available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Among the most noteworthy dishes are the black truffle fries accompanied by a delicious buttermilk garlic dip; Ricotta ravioli with cauliflower, red cherries, tomato sauce and Parmesan; Fish of the day simmered with asparagus, English peas and virgin basil; Aged New York steak with fries and mixed salad and the Paneer Makhani with basmati rice, lentil wafer and mango pickles.
We chatted with Chef Srijith Gopinath Girijia, who oversees the two Michelin star Cal-Indian restaurant Campton Place and the hotel’s bar & bistro, about his inspiration for the in-room dining menu, which was a main stay during the pandemic; the reopening of the Bar & Bistro; and more. Here is what he had to say.
The food at the hotel has a bad reputation as it is overpriced and not that great, unfortunately. How is the cuisine at Taj Campton Place different and what do you hope guests take away from their stay?
We are in the unique position of having a Michelin Star Chef who creates and oversees the entire food and beverage program at Taj Campton Place, including in-room dining. We have the ability to create an in-room dining experience that outperforms the competition.
You offer full in-room dining service for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which is a rarity in San Francisco. Why is it so important that you offer this to your guests?
Food and drink has always been such an important part of the overall experience at Taj Campton Place. We really want to create an atmosphere in which guests can return as much as possible to pre-pandemic life.
Are guests harder to please right now? Was it difficult to get guests back to the hotel and travel again?
Our experience has been that our guests have been extremely understanding and appreciated by the efforts of the hotel team. There is such a beautiful feeling of freedom and happiness that emanates from the mood of our guests and it has been so pleasant and rather contagious for all of us. We have seen that as the number of people vaccinated increases, the number of occupations increases and we expect this trend to continue.
How did the reopening of the hotel and restaurant program go?
We had plenty of time to plan our reopening, and although the city and CDC sanitary guidelines were an ever-changing landscape, we were well prepared and as a result the reopening went very well.
What is your inspiration for the in-room dining menu?
Healthy, hearty and comforting dishes created with seasonal ingredients and simple, familiar cooking techniques. Most of the dishes on our dining room menu are our interpretation of something we would cook at home.
Has anything on the Bar & Bistro menu changed since closing? What is the inspiration for the menu?
We’re excited to bring back some of our customer’s favorites, such as our Chicken Curry and Cheeseburger with Fries. We have added seasonal menu items to the hotel’s Bar & Bistro menu. Inspiration comes from the bounty of California, as well as some of my favorite comfort food from India.
What do you think customers are looking for in a dining experience on a night out on the town now?
Since most people have been dining at the house for a year, guests want to get out of the house and into town! With a long history as a ‘place to see’ in the heart of the city – attracting shoppers from nearby luxury boutiques, high profile businesses and travelers from around the world – Taj Campton Place’s Bar & Bistro is known for its cuisine high comforting, handcrafted cocktails and intimate ambience. The Bar & Bistro is the ideal meeting place to share a memorable meal with loved ones.
What can customers expect when they dine at the newly reopened restaurant?
The Bar & Bistro will be open seven days a week from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM. The most notable dishes on the menu include baked beets with grapefruit, mint, goat cheese and hazelnuts; black truffle and garlic buttermilk fries; ricotta ravioli with cauliflower, candied cherries, tomato & provolone sauce; and chicken curry with basmati rice, lentil wafer and mango pickles. The Bar & Bistro also offers an exceptional wine list and a selection of handcrafted cocktails. Places are available on a first come, first served basis.