hile The Country Club, Costa Mesa may be confused by name with an Orange County clubhouse and golf course, other similarities abruptly end there. Note: We aren’t counting the sporting trophies on display. Of course, once you arrive at the 17th Street A-frame, you’ll start to wonder why it feels very familiar. That is because you are at the club formerly known as Pierce Street Annex, the once quintessential dive bar. Nostalgic? Perhaps. Worth a visit? Indeed.
“A country club without the membership” is how the well-endowed venue is presented. A blend of modern and vintage design styles, you’ll feel welcome from the minute you step up to an accommodating marble top bar. Request one of their classic cocktails with a twist, and you may be served a sous-vide, Dirty Martini,— all the required flavors, but without the cloudy spirit. Like your surroundings, it’s classy without being pretentious. For something slightly more ambitious, have a Royal Melbourne, featuring Toki Japanese whiskey. As striking as it is balanced, drinks like the Royal remind patrons this is not your run-of-the-mill watering hole.
Details matter here. From the sleek, minimalist patio, to leather banquettes flanking a stunning chandelier, this adults-only establishment was thoughtfully put together. There isn’t an ideal place to sit; that’s because every nook is cozy. At the same time, there’s ample room for locals to roam about during their hours of happiness. And if you decide to linger for live music and a little dancing, even better. It’s definitely graduated from dive bar status, and then some. Just ask former Angels pitcher Chuck Finley, seated across the way.
Now that you’re settled in, consider more than your liquid nourishment. Throwing back a 42-ounce tomahawk steak may be ambitious (yet incredibly tempting) for your first meal. We were caught off guard by a properly roasted, juicy Jidori chicken. Thanks to Executive Chef Zachary Scherer, Country Club’s dining menu raises the bar beyond stereotypical, deep-fried starters and acceptable fare. Dessert selections such as Clafoutis with blood orange Campari sorbet are approachable, even a bit whimsical— courtesy of consulting Pastry Chef Ashley Guzman. For those who enjoy day drinking, weekend brunch will cover that craving.
Swing by and experience what you didn’t realize 17th Street was missing at The Country Club.