Today’s Media Monday comes to us from San Francisco. David Landis is a longtime friend who wears many hats. He is president of Landis Communications Inc., our Public Relations Global Network affiliate in the Bay Area, and he also is a restaurant critic, dubbed “The Gay Gourmet,” for the San Francisco Bay Times.
My role as a restaurant critic began when I was a guest on KQED-TV’s (the San Francisco Bay Area’s PBS affiliate) local restaurant show, “Check Please, Bay Area.” I reviewed one of my favorite haunts, the 100+ year old Cliff House, among San Francisco’s best view restaurants overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Being a public relations professional, I’ve been interviewed many times: but I swear I had more positive reaction to that show than anything. (I guess you can tell that San Francisco is a real foodie town, right?). The editors at the San Francisco Bay Times, a weekly that is one of the region’s largest LGBT newspapers, asked me to write an article about the Cliff House - so I did and I called it “The Gay Gourmet.” I guess they liked it, because they asked me to do an ongoing monthly column.
I try to showcase restaurants that have stood the test of time and have been around the block. I figure the new establishments always get covered by the rest of the restaurant critics in town. I wanted to do something different and give some love to places that deserve to be recognized for longevity. And, if there’s an LGBT angle, all the better.
One of the best aspects of this job is it keeps me current with two of my favorite passions: food and writing. To me, a “foodie,” isn’t just someone who jumps on the latest trend; it’s someone who loves food in all its diverse variations, loves to eat and wants to support the local restaurant community. I try to do all three.
I will say, as a PR professional, it’s interesting now to be pitched by other PR pros. The good ones, like the one for SF’s esteemed Foreign Cinema restaurant (a top-rated California cuisine restaurant where they show foreign movies at the outdoor dining courtyard), come to me with a relevant story idea. She approached me because that restaurant is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary (longevity) and has a lesbian sommelier (LGBT angle). That’s what I call a “home-run” pitch. It just makes my job easier.
Besides the aforementioned Cliff House and Foreign Cinema, here are a few others:
House of Prime Rib – Everyone thinks that in San Francisco you have to try the latest and greatest food trends, but sometimes the oldies are the goodies. This institution dedicated to beef is not-to-be-missed. Book early.
Balboa Café – another 100+ year-old restaurant which also doubles as a sports bar. It’s where you’ll see Nancy Pelosi, Gordon Getty, Governor Gavin Newsom and more. Insider’s tip: order the burger on the bun at the bar and chat it up with bartender Kevin.
SPQR – a Michelin-starred innovative neighborhood Italian restaurant on Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights. You’ve never had Italian like this and the wine menu changes weekly.
Original Joe’s – another old time standby in North Beach. It looks like it’s straight out of Frank Sinatra’s era, with red leather booths, waiters in tuxedos and really tasty Italian American fare.
And my current favorite bar, White Rabbit: a luxury homage to mid-century 60’s and the music of SF’s own Jefferson Airplane, where you can get creative artisan cocktails like “Aperol in Wonderland.”
Summing it up, I’d say: “Eat, drink and be merry” – or if you write for my newspaper, you might just say, “Be Mary!”