Modern yet traditional

My favorite place to eat lunch in The City is the Rotunda, at Neiman-Marcus on Union Square. It’s very old fashioned; you can’t go there without remembering the City Of Paris and the famous Christmas tree that magically appeared the day after Thanksgiving.

Consequently, it was with some trepidation that I went to the new NM Cafe on the second floor of the Neiman Marcus in Walnut Creek.  Yes, even though they opened 4 months ago, I hadn’t seen the inside of the new consumer palace until this week.

The store is, of course, beautiful and ultra-modern.  Would the cafe measure up?

Good news.  Tradition continues, and all the little niceties of dining at Neiman’s are maintained.

The really big item, to me, is how the meal starts: with bullion and a popover.


A tiny cup of bullion, a piping hot popover and strawberry butter–heaven on a plate


That’s the tradition, and it makes you feel like you belong to part of an exclusive in-crowd, which I guess is their goal.

Next up is the modern–lighter food that still has lots of taste. I had the seafood louie.


Shrimp, crab, lettuce, avocado and egg. Healthy, tasty, elegant.


Gail had the chicken salad.


Chunky chicken salad, melon, pineapple, tomatoes and avocado.


The service is everything you would expect.  NM Cafe is tiny–it seats about 34 people, and I counted at least 5 waitstaff, including the bussers and host.

Everything on the menu includes a calorie and fat content listing–their main market is ladies who lunch, and these things matter.

Staying modern and maintaining tradition seem like antithetical aims, yet Neiman-Marcus has somehow managed the trick here in the ‘burbs.  Good for them, now I don’t have to go into San Francisco to enjoy the popovers anymore.


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