Housed in a former marble-cutting factory in San Francisco’s Jackson Square neighbourhood is The Battery, a buzzing members’ club and boutique hotel that’s brought a touch of Britain to the Bay area. I recently had drinks and dinner at this impressive five-storey property, which is also home to a restaurant, three bars (including The House Bar, first picture), several meeting rooms, a spa and a gallery space (director of art Thomas Moller curates the rotating exhibitions).
I was the guest of a friend – the CEO of a much-talked-about start-up - who was among the first of The Battery’s 2,700-odd members. The roster reads like a who’s who of Silicon Valley, with creatives, investors and venture capitalists mixing with folk from the financial district, plus a handful of international members.
The Battery is the brainchild of tech entrepreneurs Michael and Xochi Birch – the husband-and-wife founders of social-networking site Bebo – and their club was inspired by the private members’ clubs and pubs of their London hometown. On the evening I visited, we were first shown to the Musto Bar (second picture), where we sampled several cocktails from bar manager Joel Baker, before heading to 717b, the The Battery’s 80-seat restaurant. We enjoyed a starter of quince paste, cheeses and nuts ($6), followed by white gazpacho with hints of almond ($12), and a main of roasted Alaskan halibut with clams and lemongrass ($36) – all of which were excellent. But for me, the real winner was a simple roast half chicken with nettle butter ($30). And, only for the purposes of this column, of course, I sampled not one but several of the puddings, including a chocolate and caramel tart ($10), and an apricot and honey concoction complete with milk chocolate and nougat glacé ($10).
After this thoroughly enjoyable meal, I was allowed a peek into some of the rooms (suite, third picture) – many of which have sweeping views of the iconic Transamerica building. They range in size from 400-625sq ft ($500-$1,100) – plus there’s a stunning 6,200sq ft penthouse (fourth picture) with views of the Bay Bridge – and the suites feature beautiful hardwood floors, exposed brick, a mix of vintage and contemporary furnishings and a minibar stocked with local, artisanal snacks.
Every week The Battery hosts a range of members-only events such as wine tastings, musical performances and art lectures, making this club a great addition to San Francisco’s exciting and vibrant, ideas-driven scene.