The Hidden Vine

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The Hidden Vine, a dark, clubby little space tucked into the back of the Fitzgerald Hotel near Union Square, is one of many wine bars that have opened in San Francisco in recent years. Although it's not the biggest, or the showiest, or in the most likely location, or even have the deepest cellar, it has generated more buzz than the rest of the pack. The throng of young, attractive female customers after Daily Candy spread the word had me thinking this was the ultimate destination for my single male friends. (For those of you just now heeding my recommendation, I imagine the prevalence of that particular demographic must has since leveled off.)Much of The Hidden Vine's good press has focused on the Thursday night free cheese board from 6-9pm. You can't get much for free these days and it's even more unusual to find quality cheeses like Palareto, Cowgirl Creamery's Sir Francis Drake, Great Hill Blue, Foglie di Noci Pecorino, and Sottocenere laid out for the taking. While a part of me wishes that things like this stayed secret so that there would be more cheese for me by the time I can get from the South Bay to the City, the reality is that I'm a little commute-traffic-phobic--especially as the rain starts and drives to the City can stretch to two hours. I'm also of the sandbox school of sharing, most of the time. Gratefully, so are others, including Jason, of Drink Up!, who posted on the grand opening in March and Amy, of Cooking with Amy, who sagely nominated The Hidden Vine to be your "third place" and who recently posted about the addition of McQuade's Chutney's to this coming Thursday's spread (December 15th).Thursday nights are great for a drink, seeing some friends, and, if you go to The Hidden Vine, sampling some cheese and chutney. But don't forget the other nights of the week which, from talking with proprietors David and Angela, are likely to be less crowded and more relaxed and you can still order some small plates, including cheeses.Appropriate attire: You're golden as long as whatever your wore to work or are planning to wear to dinner is somewhat stylie and not super casual or clubby. You're as likely to see a (hip and high-enough-in-the-food-chain-to-leave-work-before-midnight) consultant here as a group of fun twenty-somethings starting their night out.The Hidden Vine1/2 Cosmo Plate (near Taylor and Post), inside the Fitzgerald Hotel415.674.35675 pm-midnight Tuesday-Thursday, until 2 a.m. Friday-Saturday. Street parking is difficult.