I met my brother for dinner at the newest American Express Centurion Lounge last night at San Francisco International Airport. This fourth U.S. AMEX lounge is great – a welcome addition to Terminal 3 at SFO and a great alternative to the other lounge offerings in the terminal and connected International Terminal.
I arrived around 5:30p and saw two uniformed AMEX employees chatting outside the door. I thought they were there to welcome guests into the lounge, but they were apparently just taking a break and musing loudly over how busy the opening day had been – how there were no seats midday (the posted capacity limit of the lounge is 368 people). The lounge was thankfully not crowded during my 90-minute visit.
I walked past them and found a small lobby with an elevator and stairs going up to the second floor where the lounge is.
My wife (you see what I did there!) left my Platinum Card in Germany, so the agent had to look up my card number manually and asked me several security questions before allowing me in. A notation was made that my brother would be arriving soon. Up to two guests or all of your immediate family are allowed to those Centurion and Platinum cardholders with complimentary access to the lounge.
I was warmly welcomed into the lounge, thanked for checking it out on grand opening day, and given the following gift bag–containing a hardcover cookbook and an American Express scented candle (all the AMEX lounge have a distinct and pleasant scent).
Here is what I found inside–
The lounge has outlets everywhere with USB slots – very helpful!
You will find more than crackers and cheese in this lounge!
Dinner was pork with apples and fennel served with rice and salad – a more limited offering than Las Vegas or Dallas, but very tasty. Offering only pork is a bit odd when two of the three Abrhamic religions shun it, so I suspect a wider or at least different variety next time. I know that the chefs were scrambling in the kitchen and there was not enough food – as soon as a new tray would be brought out, the vultures (like me) would descend upon it and it would be gone in moments.
Here is both the food and drink menu–
CHRISTOPHER KOSTOW, THE CENTURION LOUNGE EXECUTIVE CHEF, SAN FRANCISCO
A Michelin-starred chef before he turned 30, Christopher Kostow takes a thoughtful approach to food that belies his age. Drawing upon his own American upbringing as well as the bounty of the Napa Valley, Kostow creates a transcendent experience for diners every night at The Restaurant at Meadowood. Kostow is the second American-born chef and third-youngest chef to receive three Michelin stars, and was named Best Chef: West by the James Beard Foundation in 2013.
BREAKFAST 6:00am – 11:00am
Whipped Yogurt with Passion Fruit, Olive Oil
Hot Cereal of Grains with Sorghum Syrup, Dates, Almond Milk
Steamed Omelette in “Potlicker Butter”
Breads and Spreads
- Assortment of Baked Breads
- Sturgeon Rillette
- Crème Cheese with Pickles, Shallots, and Dill
- Confiture of Local Fruits
- Chocolate and Feulletine Spread
- Cultured Butter
- Garden Radishes
Steamed Sacramento Rice with “Furikake” of Mendocino Seaweed, Dried Peppers, Tea
Additional breakfast items, including yogurt, cereals, breads, and fresh fruit, will be available from 5:00am to 11:30am. Menu items subject to change.
LUNCH | DINNER 11:30am – 10:00pm
Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Apple Lees Vinegar
Salad of Barley, Squid and Celery
Fermented and Grilled Mushrooms with Vinaigrette of Charred Leek
Salad of Bitter Greens with Winter Citrus and Olive Oil
Pumpkin Cooked in Goats Milk Butter
Chestnut Pudding with Roasted Chocolate
An assortment of snacks, including sandwiches, fruits, popcorn, and cookies, will be available from 11:30am to 11:00pm. Menu items subject to change.
JIM MEEHAN, THE CENTURION LOUNGE MIXOLOGIST
Jim Meehan’s career behind the bar spans over 15 years, from Paul’s Club and State Street Brats in Madison, Wisconsin to Gramercy Tavern and the Pegu Club in New York City. In addition to his work behind the bar as one of the nation’s top mixologists, Jim is a contributing editor of FOOD & WINE, the deputy editor of FOOD & WINE’s annual cocktail guide, and the author of the PDT Cocktail Book: a bartender’s guide from his James Beard Award-winning bar.
COCKTAILS 10:30am – 10:30pm
Old Potrero 18th Century Whiskey, Benedictine, Lemon
The Frisco hails from the 1930 edition of San Francisco barman Cocktail Bill Boothby’s seminal bar guide “World Drinks and How to Mix Them”.
Charbay Tequila Blanco, St. George NOLA Coffee Liqueur, Whipped Cream
This rich spin on the Buena Vista Café’s iconic Irish Coffee is the similar to a shot of espresso topped with a dollop of milk: the macchiato of cocktails.
Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka, Vya Dry Vermouth, Anchor Hophead Vodka, Small Hand Foods Pineapple Gum Syrup
A barspoon of pineapple gum syrup helps express the heady aromatics of the vodka and vermouth’s botanicals.
Campo de Encanto Pisco, Small Hands Foods Pineapple Gum, Lime Juice, Red Wine, Angostura bitters, Orange
This famous 19th Century punch was created in San Francisco to slake the thirst of settlers like the forty-niners, who populated the city after the gold rush.
Banks 7 Golden Age Rum, Grapefruit Juice, Charbay Tahitian Vanilla Bean Rum, Small Hands Foods Orgeat, Tempus Fugit Crème de Noyaux, Mint
Grapefruit and nutty Crème de Noyaux take the place of lime and orange curacao in this subtle riff on the classic Mai Tai.
Gin Basil Fizz
St. George Botanivore Gin, Lime Juice, Acqua Perfecta Basil Eau de Vie, Sparkling Wine
This regal riff on German barman Joerg Meyer’s better-known Gin Basil Smash relies on local eau de vie, instead of the muddled herb, to pair with the peppery gin.
Osocalis Rare Alembic Brandy, Apple Cider, St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur, Abbott’s Bitters, Nutmeg
This autumnal refresher goes back to colonial days, when (hard) cider was as popular as beer, and spices were as rare as the brandy we used to prepare this.
A limited selection of cocktail, wine and beer will be available from 5:00am – 10:30am
ANTHONY GIGLIO, THE CENTURION LOUNGE WINE DIRECTOR
Anthony Giglio is one of the most entertaining wine and spirits authorities on the planet. He has written several books, including three editions of FOOD & WINE’s Wine Guide; five editions of the Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide, and his highly regarded first book, Cocktails in New York. Giglio has written for numerous publications, including FOOD & WINE and Travel + Leisure. Giglio is currently a wine reporter for CBS News Radio, and has appeared on numerous television programs.
WINE 5:30am – 10:30pm
SPARKLING & CHAMPAGNE
Pinot Noir & Chardonnay | Mumm Napa Brut Prestige | NV | Napa Valley
Pinot Noir & Chardonnay | Domaine Carneros Brut Vintage Cuvee | 2010 | Carneros | Napa Valley
Viognier | Darioush | 2013 | Signature | Napa Valley
Albariño | Peter Franus | 2013 | Carneros, Napa Valley
Sauvignon Blanc | Honig Vineyard & Winery | 2013 | Napa Valley
Chardonnay | Textbook | 2013 | Napa Valley
Marsanne | Bello Family Vineyards | 2010 | St. Helena | Napa Valley
Grenache Blanc | Somerston Estate | Priest Ranch | 2013 | Napa Valley
Chardonnay | Farm Napa Valley | 2013 | Napa Valley
Chardonnay | Taken Wine Company | Complicated Chardonnay
Sauvignon Blanc + Chardonnay | Prime | District 4 Napa Valley White Blend | Napa Valley
Syrah | Cornerstone Cellars | Corallina Rosé | 2013 | Yountville | Napa Valley
Rosé | Mira | Rosé of Pinot Noir | Napa Valley
Rosé | Nellcôte | 2013 | Rosé of Malbec & Syrah | Napa Valley
Pinot Noir | Saintsbury | 2012 | Carneros | Napa Valley
Pinot Noir | Artesa Winery | 2012 | Carneros | Napa Valley
Zinfandel | Storybook Mountain Vineyards | 2013 | Calistoga | Napa Valley
Pinot Noir | Ceja Vineyards | 2010 | Carneros
Malbec | Farella Vineyard | 2009 | Coombsville | Napa Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon | Renteria Wines | 2011 | Napa Valley
Zinfandel | Grgich Hills | 2010 | Estate | Napa Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon | St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery | 2012 | Napa Valley
Merlot | Hill Family Estate | 2012 | Beau Terre Vineyard | Yountville | Napa Valley
An assortment of snacks, including sandwiches, fruits, popcorn, and cookies, will be available from 11:30am – 11:00pm. Menu items subject to change.
COFFEE & TEA
Centurion Lounge Custom Coffee, Espresso, and Cappuccino are available all day.
An assortment of teas are available all day.
SFO is not far, after all, from California’s Napa Valley wine region and one unique feature of this lounge is the ability to conduct a wine tasting of several CA wines – staff will be happy to help and a machine is rigged to dispense a sample amount automatically. You can clean your palate with bread and cheese.
I found the food to be excellent in quality and taste – I wanted a mojito with my meal and though it is not on the drink menu above, one of the very friendly bartenders (there were four) offered to make it with some very nice aged dark rum. A generous supply of limes and mint were on hand.
Not all cappuccino machines are made equally. While my cappuccino did not begin to even approach the top quality available, it was much better than most machine-produced cappuccino and very tasty along with soft mini chocolate chip cookies.
A wonderful new addition to the American Express Lounge network and well-worth a visit if you find yourself with layover time at SFO.
How was you experience in the new lounge?