American Express Centurion Lounge Review at SFO Airport

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Last week, I booked a last minute trip to San Francisco using 9,000 British Airways Avios (LAX-SFO round-trip) and had a chance to visit the American Express Centurion Lounge at SFO Airport. I’m a huge fan of the Amex Centurion lounges and I’ve previously reviewed the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas Airport (LAS) and the Amex Centurion Lounge at Dallas Fort Worth Airport (DFW).

After landing in the morning at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), I exited security and went to the American Airlines counter at Terminal 2 to grab a boarding pass for my flight later on that evening. The SFO Airport American Express Centurion Lounge is actually located in Terminal 3 (United), so I had to take the free Sky train from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3.

Even though I held an American Airlines boarding pass, I was still able to go through security at SFO’s United Terminal 3. All I had to do was tell the TSA employee that I wanted to go to the lounge and they didn’t bat an eye. It’s very possible to access the Amex Centurion lounge even though you hold a boarding pass from another terminal.

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I was able to access the Amex Centurion Lounge at SFO Airport because I had an American Express Platinum card. Access is complimentary for Amex Platinum and Centurion cardholders. You can also access this lounge if you pay $50 and charge it to any American Express credit or charge card. In addition, you may bring up to two guests or your immediate family (spouse and children under 18) at no additional cost.

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The Amex Centurion Lounge at SFO Airport was not crowded in the morning and had plenty of open seating available.

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There’s also a separate dining room area with plenty of tables, but quite crowded.

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The morning buffet spread consisted of Zucchini & Squash Frittata, Beef Brisket Hash, Crispy French Toast Rhubarb Jam, Turkey Sausage, Croissants, Breads, Muffins, Assorted Fruit, Yogurt, and Granola.

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Beverages were also available such as water, orange juice, tea, and coffee.

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There’s also a full bar available. Bottled beer, cocktails, and wine can be ordered from the bartender. Note that cocktails are only served from 10:30am-10:30pm.

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The cocktail menu reads as follows:

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Cocktails created by Jim Meehan, exclusively for American Express Managing Partner of James Beard Winner PDT and Contributing Editor of FOOD & Wine.

Must be 21 or older to drink alcoholic beverages. Please drink responsibly.

Pineapple Express – 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.

Gin Basil Fizz – St. George Botanivore Gin, Lime Juice, Aqua 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 muddled herb, to pair with the peppery gin.

Pisco Punch – 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 Exchange – 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.

Port Charlotte’s Web – Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Single Malt Scotch, Kina L’Aero d’Or, Lemon Juice, Pink Grapefruit Juice – The smoky Scotch Whisky, which was aged at the Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay, spins a web around its imbiber like the book’s thoughtful spider.

Beacn Counter – Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Lime Juice, Kahlua Especial, Small Hands Food Pineapple Gum Syrup, Mint, Nutmeg – The rich rum base of this tropical cooler is accentuated with pineapple, coffee and mint: three staples of the Caribbean diaspora’s cocktail tradition.

Frisco – 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.”

Wine is served from 6am to 1:30pm and can be ordered from the bartender.

The Wine Menu reads as follows:

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List curated by Anthony Giglio, exclusively for American Express Journalist, Sommelier, Educator and Contributor to FOOD & WINE

Must be 21 or older to drink alcoholic beverages. Please drink responsibly.

Sparkling

Pinot Noir & Chardonnay – Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, NV, Napa Valley – Mumm Napa’s Sister Champagne house dates to 1827. That heritage is evident in bright orchard fruit aromas, fine acidity and hints of spice.

Pinot Noir & Chardonnay – Domaine Carneros Brut Vintage Cuvee, 2013, Carneros, Napa Valley – Founded by the family behind Champagne Tattinger, this organic wine offers bright citrus and lush tropical fruit in quintessentially Carneros style.

White

Sauvignon Blanc – Honig Vineyard & Winery, 2013, Napa Valley – This family winery has prized Sauvignon Blanc since 1964 and this crisp, medium-bodied wine embodies the house style with notes of nectarine, lemongrass, jasmine and grapefruit.

Chardonnay – Textbook, 2013, Napa Valley – Truly the textbook ideal for grape and region, this small-production Napa Chardonnay delivers vibrant fruit, satisfying depth, luscious texture and ample acidity.

Rose – Mira, Rose of Pinot Noir, 2013, Napa Valley – Created by a partnership between a master winemaker and a GOP veteran, this aromatically floral rose offers dried currant, wild strawberry and kumquat on the palate.

Red

Pinot Noir – Saintsbury, 2013, Carneros, Napa Valley – Lead by two Pinot-philes obsessed with crafting Burgundian wines, Saintsbury has invested decades in clone experimentation to create wines that rival the Old World inspirations.

Merlot – Hill Family Estate, 2012, Beau Terre Vineyard, Yountville, Napa Valley – This spicy, velvety Merlot is the result of four generations of expertise – after two generations grew grapes for other wineries, the third and fourth were inspired to found their own.

Zinfandel – Storybook Mountain Vineyards, 2013, Calistoga, Napa Valley – Planted in red volcanic soil in the wild Mayacarnas mountains, these vineyards produce spicy Zins of intensity and balance with characteristic raspberry and black cherry fruit.

Cabernet Sauvignon – St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Winery, 2012, Napa Valley – St. Supery was founded by a pioneering family in Napa, and its celebrated Cabernet evoking blackberry, plum and cassis – remains one of the region’s benchmarks.

The best part about the lounge is that you can go wine tasting with the large selection of wine from the American Express Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

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To go wine tasting, you have to grab a wine tasting ticket from the bartender which has a unique barcode on a piece of paper and it’s located in the main dining room.

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The Wine Tasting Red Wine menu reads as follows:

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List curated by Anthony Giglio, exclusively for American Express Journalist, Sommelier, Educator and Contributor to FOOD & WINE

Must be 21 or older to drink alcoholic beverages. Please drink responsibly.

Red Wines

Pinot Noir – Artesa Winery, 2012, Carneros, Napa Valley – The Raventos family has produced Spanish wine for centurions, but they’ve embraced Carneros in this Pinot with red fruit and a hint of toasty caramel.

Pinot Noir – Ceja Vineyards, 2010, Carneros, Napa Valley – Brothers Pedro and Armando worked up from vineyard laborers to founders, and their Pinot – with red plum, hibiscus and spice  notes – is as inspiring as it is delicious.

Malbec – Farella Vineyard, 2010, Coombsville, Napa Valley – Frank Farella founded his winery with just 400 square feet of soil, and his son Tom continues the risk-taking tradition with this rustic, smoky first-vintage Malbec.

Zinfandel – Grgich Hills, 2011, Estate, Napa Valley – Mike Grgich, the creator of the Napa wine that won the 1976 “Paris Tasting,” crafted this biodynamic Zin with flavors of strawberry, orange zest and white pepper.

Cabernet Sauvignon – St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Winery, 2012, Napa Valley – St. Supery was founded by a pioneering family in Napa, and its celebrated Cabernet evoking blackberry, plum and cassis – remains one of the region’s benchmarks.

Merlot – Swanson Vineyards, 2011, Cygnet, Napa Valley – The Swansons introduced America to TV dinners, and later, to Napa Merlot in wines like this blackberry, mocha and spice-driven Right Bank Bordeaux blend.

Red Blends

Red Blend – B Cellars, 2009, Blend 24, Napa Valley – Created by Kirk Venge, son of Nils, this bold blend of Cabernet and Sangiovese offers jammy blueberry and strawberry aromas with a palate of black cherry and espresso.

Red Blend – Taken, 2013, Complicated, Central Coast – Aromas of bright raspberries, red cherries, and strawberries. Super-ripe raspberry and bright red cherry make for a seductive first sip. This racy Central Coast blend has notes of cocoa and well-integrated French Oak.

Red Blend – Miner, 2009, Red Wine, Napa Valley – Uniting Oakville, Stagecoach and Sierra Foothills fruit, this Meritage blend merges Old World and New with nuanced winemaking technique, moderate oak, and distinctly Napa terroir.

Red Blend – Highflyer, 2010, Centerline, Napa Valley – Winemaker/aviator Craig Becker uses his elevated perspective to scout Petite Sirah, Syrah, Tempranillo and Zinfandel to yield chocolate-covered cherry aromas with velvety tannins.

The Wine Tasting White and Rose Wine menu reads as follows:

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List curated by Anthony Giglio, exclusively for American Express Journalist, Sommelier, Educator and Contributor to FOOD & WINE

Must be 21 or older to drink alcoholic beverages. Please drink responsibly.

White Wines

Marsanne – Bello Family Vineyards, 2010, St. Helena, Napa Valley – This floral white demonstrates the rich beauty of Marsanne, with pear, apricot, honeysuckle and almond on the palate and a delightfully confected marzipan finish.

Grenache Blanc – Somerston Estate, Priest Ranch, 2013, Napa Valley – Somerston Estate is a pastoral dream: bubbling springs, grazing sheep, and sweeping vineyards that produce this bright white redolent with melon and white floral aromas.

Viognier – Darioush, 2013, Signature, Napa Valley – Darioush Khaledi finds inspiration in his native Iran’s winemaking, and his luscious Viognier offers an evocative bouquet of jasmine, orange blossom, peach and papaya.

Sauvignon Blanc – Keever Vineyards, 2012, Napa Valley – Winemaker Celia Welch crafts this fruit-forward, aromatic white boasting aromas of fresh white peaches that carry through to stone fruit deliciousness on the palate.

Sauvignon Blanc + Chardonnay – Prime, District 4 Napa Valley White Blend, Napa Valley – Though Ted Henry started his winemaking career at a massive winery, his work since has taught him the pleasures of crafting in vanishingly smaller batches.

Chardonnay – Farm Napa Valley, 2013, Napa Valley – Crated by a partnership between a master winemaker and a GOP veteran, this aromatically floral rose offers dried currant, wild strawberry and kumquat on the palate.

Rose Wines

Rose – Mira, Rose of Pinot Noir, 2013, Napa Valley – Created by a partnership between a master winemaker and a GOP veteran, this aromatically floral rose offers dried currant, wild strawberry and kumquat on the palate.

Rose – Nellcote, 2013, Rose of Malbec & Syrah, Napa Valley – Bringing the distinct complexity of Mount Veeder fruit to rose, this wine offers concentrated aromas of raspberry, blood orange, pomegranate, baking spice and pepper.

For breakfast, I had a little bit of everything which was quite bland. I didn’t like the frittata, muffin, or the French toast. The breakfast potatoes and turkey sausage was good though.

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Later on that evening, I went back to SFO Airport American Express (AMEX) Centurion Lounge before my flight. I had a chance to check out the lunch/dinner menu and the buffet spread consisted of Roasted Chicken with Garlic and Lemon, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, and Cream of Corn with Jalapenos and Lime Zest.

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There was also Korean Broth, Ramen Noodles, Cilantro, Jalapenos, and Napa Cabbage, Crostini of Mozzarella, Spicy Strawberry Jam and Basil and Panna Cotta Meyer Lemon.

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There was also a salad selection with Artichokes, Cucumber, Walnuts, Tomatoes, shaved Parmesan cheese, grapes, oranges, and plums.

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I had a little bit of everything and the lunch/dinner selections were fantastic. The salad was fresh and I loved the artichokes and shaved Parmesan cheese. The chicken was delicious and went well with the creamy mashed potatoes and corn.

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I couldn’t say the same for the Korean broth with ramen noodles since the broth was cold and tasted weird. I would avoid this dish at all costs.

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Overall, I have mixed feelings about the American Express Centurion Lounge at SFO Airport. In terms of space, the dining room felt very cramped because the tables were only inches away from the next table. This also made it especially hard for people who want to go wine tasting because you will be very close to a dining table (literally an inch or two). It does get crowded in the evening where every table in the dining room is occupied.

The breakfast selections were pretty horrible and tasted bland. I wish there was some type of scrambled egg option instead of the egg frittata. The French toast squares were hard and almost inedible and I wish they would replace it with pancakes or real French toast. On the other hand, the dinner selections were superb except for the Korean broth with noodles which was cold. They should definitely get rid of that dish and replace it with cold soba noodles or Udon noodles.

 

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5 Comments on "American Express Centurion Lounge Review at SFO Airport"

  1. So which SFO lounge would be your first choice?

    • Honestly I don’t fly out of SFO a lot and I’ve only been to the Admirals Club and the SFO Centurion Lounge. I’d probably choose the Centurion Lounge over the Admirals Club if I’m at the airport early for my flight.

  2. I tried this SFO Centurion lounge last week. Excellent poached salmon dinner. Bar service was slow because it was busy, but didn’t really feel crowded. Enjoyed it!
    Will do a repeat next month for my JAL trip to compare.

    • I must have went when it was very very busy! The bar does tend to be crowded but if you want better bar service, you will want to sit at the bar (if you can find a seat) 😉 . Definitely repeat next month and report back!

  3. what are the hours for the lunch spread?

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