Off to Pompei's Grotto for our 26th anniversary New Year's Eve dinner


In a couple of hours, the former Jean Dibble  and I will be going to the delightful Fisherman's Wharf restaurant we have  frequented for the past quarter century on New Year's Eve.

Twenty-six  or so years ago, we happened to be strolling along on Fisherman's Wharf looking for a place to eat New Year's Eve dinner, We happened upon Pompei's Grotto. in the heart of the Wharf at 340 Jefferson St.

It looked warm and inviting and beckoned to us with colorful holiday decorations and a friendly demeanor and so we went in.  We found it the perfect place for us on New Year's Eve and we've never missed a New Year's Eve dinner at Pompei's.

Red-checked table cloths. Lamps on each table.  Lots of greenery. Lots of Dungeness crab. Reasonably priced and nicely prepared fish dishes. Superb martinis.  And always members of the founding Pompei family on hand to insure good service and quality meals and drinks and the friendly atmosphere of a family-owned and operated restaurant at the same location where Frank and and wife Marian started Pompei's in 1946 from a tiny place with a couple of counters. Last year,  daughter Nancy was running things, son Tom was cooking most days, and son-in-law Gayne, who has been cooking for 40 years or so, was making cameo appearances in the kitchen.

Jean and I have the same meals. We are both cognizant of the quintessential San Francisco meal that Carl Nolte touted so deliciously in his vintage San Francisco column in the Chronicle introducing the crab season. Except for one crucial point. We have gin martinis, no vermouth, instead of a crisp white wine as Nolte recommended.  We both have the largest Dungeness crab in stock, with lots of drawn butter and fresh sour dough bread.  We each have very dry martinis, one for Jean and at least two for me. Jean has a shrimp cocktail and I have half a dozen oysters with a hearty mix of cocktail sauce and horseradish. We  finish things off  by asking for two spoons and sharing a good old-fashioned Midwestern-style chocolate sundae with a perched cherry on top.  Somehow, we never vary the routine and we don't intend to do so this year.    And we have, I assure you, the best New Year's Eve dinner in town.

We're off.  I'll keep you posted on Pompei's 2013.  Meanwhile, take a virtual tour of Pompei's:

P.S. After reading Carl's column, I invited him to celebrate with me the best traditional San Francisco crab meal at the restaurant that we could agree upon to do the job for us.

I'm holding out for Pompei's. B3