Intriguingly named, Press Club is centrally located in the neighborhood of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in the beloved city park, palatial San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Daniel Libeskind’s soaring blue cubes of the Contemporary Jewish Museum.
Surrounded by art venues, this wine bar and lounge is in itself a piece of art from its sleek modern design to its drinks list that reads like Who’s Who in the artisanal wine and beer production.
The men behind the upscale libations are general manager Kristian Cosentino, who is also a resident beer expert, and wine director Mauro Cirilli. The beer expert puts a lot of emphasis on “noble” hops treated like grapes – stored and aged like wines – and on elaborately produced sours that take weeks and months to make. The wine director makes a clear preference for elegant sophisticated varietals that won’t overwhelm the palate but will compliment the food prepared by Taste Catering & Event Planning and served here a la cart as snacks, bites, and plates, or in three- to five-course pairings.
With more than 30 wines by the glass, 100 handpicked bottles from all imaginable winemaking countries and regions, and 30 beers from farmhouse ales to fruit, sour, and spiced masterpieces, the food and drink pairing at Press Club reaches the state of art.
For a charcuterie board of delicacies from Molinari, Fra’ Mani, Fatted Calf and other notable salumi makers, Sierra Nevada “Northern Hemisphere Harvest” Fresh Hop Ale from Chico, and Mikkeller “19” IPA from Denmark seemed equally perfect, or so I thought until I tried the Drakes Brewing Company “Aroma Coma” IPA from San Leandro that smelled like perfume, tasted like heaven, and apparently won every award in the book.
2010 A’Cote’Chardonnay from Santa Barbara was a fine match for Sequatchie Cove Coppinger Arancini with tahini aioli, roasted and pickled mushrooms, and frisee.
Shaved Toybox Squash and Gioia Burrata Pizza paired nicely with both 2010 Pinot Noir Sea Slopes from Fort Ross, Sonoma, and Bellegems “Bruin” Sour/Wild Ale from Belgium.
Other wonderful things not to be missed at Press Club include Blackened Deviled Glaum Ranch Organic Eggs – always tough to pair with a drink, but surprisingly harmonious with sour beers like my favorite Dogfish Head “Black & Blue” Belgian Golden Ale from Delaware, and Brouwerij Bocker “Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge” Flemish Sour Ale from Belgium.
House Pitman Farms Duck and Pinot Noir Sausage with a quinoa fritter, roasted peach, and pickled cherry duck jus finds a good match in 2009 Pinot Noir Au Bon Climat from Santa Barbara.
The Marin Sun Farms Lamb Sliders on Cumin Focaccini Rolls are spiced with house made harissa aioli and cooled with cucumber carrot slaw.
For a sweet finale, house made petit fours du jour can include dark chocolate confections, a shortbread cookie, panna cotta, and pate de fruit – all wonderfully complimented by 2009 Rancho de Oro Puro (late harvest Semillon and sauvignon blanc) from Oro Puro Vineyards in Napa Valley – as precious as pure gold, indeed.
My visit to Press Club happened to be on a blue moon night – the second full moon in the same month – and the view of the night sky over the wine club was gorgeous, but I surely plan to visit more often than once in a blue moon.
These days, Press Club is turning 4! The public is invited to celebrate on Monday, September 10 from 4 p.m. until close with $4 glasses of Prosecco and $4 glasses of Dogfish Head '120 Minute' IPA.
Also in September: Press Club is adding Visiting Brewers series to its already popular Visiting Vintner series. Jesse Friedman of San Francisco’s Almanac Beer Co. will be on the premises on Friday, September 21 from 5 to 9 p.m. Selecting the best locally sourced fruit and blending it into beers inspired by the great brewing traditions of the world, Almanac is produces seasonal artisan ales.
On Thursday, September 27th from 6-9 p.m., Visiting Vintner Seth Kunin of Kunin Wines will personally pour his wines for Press Club guests and share the stories behind them. Kunin Wines was founded in 1998, and has grown its production to 5,800 cases. The boutique producer of premium wines purchases grapes from the finest vineyards of the Central Coast region of California. Varietals include Syrah, Zinfandel, Viognier and blends of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah.
Press Club is located at 20 Yerba Buena Lane between Market and Mission Streets. Open to the public Monday to Thursday 4-10 p.m., Friday 4 p.m. till close and Saturday from 2 p.m. till close. Closed on Sundays. Free wi-fi access. Call 415.744.5000 or visit: www.PressClubSF.com.