by Anneli Rufus
What could possibly be more inviting on a chilly day in the big city than a pot of hot tea flanking a multi-tiered tray fully stocked with French pastries and finger sandwiches, perfectly appointed with such dainty details as herb sprigs, raspberry halves and striped chocolate curls? The answer to that one is easy: all of the above, plus scones, Champagne and one of the most spectacular vistas anywhere in the known world.
Keeping up a nearly century-long tradition beloved by many generations of San Franciscans, the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins hotel has just announced a series of lavish holiday celebrations at its world-famous rooftop restaurant and bar, Top of the Mark.
First among these is a Thanksgiving buffet featuring several carving stations, a dessert station, free-flowing Champagne and even a caviar station, among other offerings overseen by executive chef Nenad Stefanovic and pastry chef Phuong Vuong. Before and after the feast up on the nineteenth floor, little guests can enjoy a petting zoo downstairs in the hotel lobby.
Other fetes at the Top of the Mark, open since 1939 and renowned for serving a hundred versions of the Martini, include Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day buffets, visits with Santa Claus, and a New Year’s Eve dinner and dance that stands among the city’s most treasured traditions.
“If anyone’s looking for a great formal dinner, this is it,” says IMH food-and-beverage director Joseph Ferragamo. “We’ll have a jazz trio, a live dance band, passed hors d’oeuvres, a bottle of Moët on every table, then at midnight a bottle of Moët Rosé on every table.” Into this very-dressed-up mix add a full buffet and complete five-course gourmet dinner. At over $300 per person (and over $400 for a window seat) it’s not a cheap date — but with Stefanovic’s lofty skills and San Francisco-by-night looking like the world’s biggest jewel box through floor-to-ceiling windows ringing the entire restaurant, it’s sure to be unforgettable.
Dotted amidst these galas are holiday-themed Sunday brunches throughout the Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s season, plus an ageless classic: holiday teas. Served every afternoon through the season, these luxurious pick-me-ups include the aforementioned pastry-and-sandwich platters, a choice of teas and freshly baked English-style scones with jam, butter and lemon curd. An extra charge adds free-flowing Champagne. The children’s version of Top of the Mark holiday teas are Friday and Saturday “Magical Teas,” which feature cookie-decorating stations and a magic show.
The holiday decor inside looks festive; the city outside looks breathtaking. Just add butter and a few bubbles.
Pastry photographs by Anneli Rufus. Panoramic photographs by Kristan Lawson.