It’s easy to become insular in San Francisco. There are very few neighborhoods in this city that don’t offer a place to shop for groceries, personal hygiene products, vices and your neighborhood eatery. There are people that have lived in San Francisco for nearly a decade (I’m one of them) who have never done any touristy things. For example, I have never been to Alcatraz. So it didn’t surprise me that everyone turned down my invite to drink wine near the Financial District.
It’s a perfect place for a fortress of solitude, a contemplative cathedral–or for a fugitive who doesn’t want to be found.
Blink and you’ll miss it. The Hidden Vine is somewhat nondescript, sitting within a beautiful brick building on Merchant Street. It’s a perfect place for a fortress of solitude, a contemplative cathedral–or for a fugitive who doesn’t want to be found. In this masculine man cave with hardwood floors, you can sit in front of the fireplace in a club chair and sip wine and nosh on charcuterie and cheese. They don’t offer a full food menu, but they have substantial offerings like crab sliders that resemble miniature lobster rolls, and caramelized onion, crimini mushroom and smoked mozzarella flatbread. (These have crispy edges but somewhat soggy center, with sweet onions, umami and meaty baby portabellas and a pungent punch from the smoked mozzarella. I’m not a fan of smoked mozzarella as it has a somewhat synthetic quality, but it worked in this situation with the other flavors masking most of it.)
This is not the place for you if you’re on a budget, but that’s not why you visit. Drink wine in front of the fireplace and imagine that you’re a sophisticated European fugitive who has embezzled all of his Papa’s dough. Or play Bocce with your friends in the courtyard. Or stand with your beautiful American heiress at the bar in front of a backlit wine wall containing hundreds of bottles of wines, the entire thing resembling stained glass windows within a cathedral…
Where you’ll inevitably confess to embezzling.
The Hidden Vine
408 Merchant St, San Francisco, CA 94111
by Illyanna Maisonet