I came to John’s Grill with barely a clue about what I was getting into. That’s not to say that people don’t know the place — I’m sure you know plenty already, sweetheart. People, especially San Francisco old-timers, like to talk about the way our politicos tend to swan through the dining room at lunchtime, shaking outstretched hands on the way to their favorite tables. They talk about the nostalgic color of its walls, dark like Havana cigars, and about that black falcon, perched on the restaurant’s second floor like a kind of guardian deity. Seventeen inches of lead and bronze, it’s an angry-looking, stout bird that takes all the oxygen out of the room when you look at it.
I’m no detective, though that clammy day I was playing the part. Yes, I did find your lost rabbit last month, and you might remember that time I got caught up in those serial murders back in 1986. But I’ve long stopped that game — at least after the Burlingame incident. Yet, when San Francisco’s fog blurred the vision like a gauze blindfold, I showed up to solve a mystery nonetheless. I guess, even now, I can’t say no to a dame in need of a restaurant recommendation. Thanks to her, I found myself at John’s Grill, trying to find out if the restaurant was the real deal.