Happy Union of California Wine and Cuisine at 31st Union
California was the 31st state to join the Union, and the 31st Union restaurant in San Mateo, California, is all about California wine and cuisine.
Follow the darts piercing a rough outline of the Golden State on the dining room wall, and you’ll get an idea of how local your food really is.
Farm-to-table, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients skillfully prepared by the Executive Chef Paul Burzlaff and the operational efforts of the owner David Hunsaker are behind the quick success of the recently opened eatery.
Cozily nestled in an Art Deco historical building in the city center, the new restaurant is designed according to the latest trends – clear glass walls, knobbly gray reclaimed wood, bare Edison lamps, and a sanitary white-tiled kitchen.
The things that come out of it can be called American comfort food, but without those heavy deep-fried and buttery elements that usually weigh so heavily on comfort food lovers’ physiques.
The wine and beer list is a sight for sore eyes, brimming with crisp, acidic, and fruity whites, round spicy reds, and flavorful lagers and ales – all made in California, like Heitz Grignolino Rose from St. Helena, Novy Syrah from Napa, or Stone IPA from Escondido.
The menu is comprised of mostly small plates and daily specials (that keep them coming for more).
Seasonal soups are never to be missed, judging from the one I had on a warm summer night. Bright-yellow corn chowder was served in a white porcelain mug with chili-infused olive oil, caramelized onions, and a sprinkling of chives – both good-looking and delicious.
Golden State Spicy Wings were surprisingly light, golden-brown, and succulent in their thin flavorful sauce.
Excellent yellowtail tuna ceviche was served with heirloom tomatoes, red onions, and microgreens, and came as a Saturday “daily special.”
Lamb Meatball Sliders, served with a dab of Romesco and baby arugula on a brioche bun, presented a lucky combination of tastes and textures from salty and sweet to sour and bitter, and from meaty to crispy – filling, yet without overwhelming. All sweets at 31st Union are made in-house, which means that a seasonal pocket pie can hold different surprises on different nights.
On the night we dined, it was a strawberry mini-galette, all fresh and bright, with sweet cream and powdered sugar. A home-made vanilla ice-cream sandwich is another great little thing to finish up your meal. The restaurant seats 50, so make your reservation early. The sidewalk seating for 10 depends on the weather. 31st Union is located at 5 South Ellsworth Avenue in San Mateo, California. Call for reservations (650) 458-0049 or visit their website.