Sunday, August 8, 2010


Matchbooks of lonely places I'll never find, indeed. Much as I'd love to have visited Ernie's Restaurant in San Francisco, that bird has flown. Despite being featured in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, Ernie's closed down in 1995.

Ernie Carlesso opened it in 1931 and ran it until his death in 1947. According to SFWeekly:

Alfred Hitchcock discovered the place and became a regular. He also re-created the restaurant's Ambrosia Room, with its distinctive whorehouse-red silk wall coverings, for his movie Vertigo. Hitchcock was only one of many cultural and political luminaries (some others: Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and Walter Cronkite) who ate at Ernie's during its long run.

I guess I'll have to content myself with watching the Hitchcock film, which is kinda weird since that's not even the real Ernie's in it. For some reason, Hitch chose to painstakingly recreate the place as a set rather than simply shoot on location. I've tried to track down details about Ernie's menu online but so far it's a no-go. If there are any devoted Ernie-ologists out there, please step forward. I've got a thing about Ernie's.

- - JSH


2little2loud said...

Ernie's was mediocre food wise. We only ever went there to impress visitors who were Hitchcock fans. I think the reason he built an imitation Ernie's on a sound stage was because in the real Ernie's, the bar does not overlook the main dining area. They needed that for James Stewart to watch Kim Novak in that scene.

JSH said...

Wow, thanks for the info! I guess when Madeleine was pining for "one of those steaks" from Ernie's, she was actually revealing herself to have Judy's medium-brow tastes. (Or maybe the steaks were better in the 1950s.)