Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Hidden Vine: Wine Bar CLOSED

Do you have a third place? Your home and place of work are your first two places but you need a third place. Ray Oldenburg an urban sociologist defined a third place in his book The Great Good Place as somewhere that can "host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work." For over 15 years this concept has been explored in various books and articles.

If you don't have a third place I would like to nominate The Hidden Vine. I hesitate to call it a wine bar, because I really think of it as a third place. A hop and a skip (not even a jump) from downtown and Union Square, The Hidden Vine is a cozy little space perfect for meeting a friend a lover or even a business associate or two after work. It is the perfect mix of relaxing and playful. Warm dark colors and soft candle light hint at romance but don't insist upon on it. The location downstairs in the back of a hotel, allows for discretion or secrecy should the occasion require it.

The wine menu at The Hidden Vine is a crucial component. It changes all the time. It gives you the chance to find something new as each month there is a featured region to explore in a glass or two of wine. Or better yet perhaps a flight. This month it's the wines of Washington state. But if you'd like to stick with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Merlot, you'll always find selections from California too. They offer at least 30 wines by the glass and more than three times as many bottles in a full range of prices. In addition to wine to you can have a nibble of any number of artisanal cheeses, some charcuterie or chocolates. The cheeses I must point out come with one of McQuades fabulous chutneys that could convert even a chutney hater to a chutney lover.

Tables and chairs and snug comfy couches beckon and you couldn't ask for more welcoming hosts than Angela and David the proprietors. They are knowledgeable about wine with just the right amount of authentic enthusiasm. If you are wondering when to go I would suggest a Thursday evening when they offer free cheese plates from 6 until 9 or perhaps a Wednesday when there might be a little live music. Check their schedule and plan accordingly or just go and be pleasantly surprised.

The Hidden Vine CLOSED
Tues - Thurs 5 - Midnight
Fri & Sat 5 - 2 am
Entrance on Cosmo Place @ Taylor Street (between Sutter and Post)