Scallops with bacon vinaigrette at Viognier.
San Mateo’s Viognier restaurant sometimes gets forgotten about.
It’s only when someone brings up the name that you think, “Oh, yeahhhhh, I remember that place…”
After all, when it debuting in 1997, it was a big deal. It made a statement by opening on the second floor of a grocery store, of all things, albeit the uber gourmet Draeger’s. And it made an impression when it lured the illustrious Gary Danko from the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco to open the restaurant.
After Danko left to open his eponymous Michelin one-starred San Francisco establishment, Viognier went through a succession of chefs.
Executive Chef R.J. Subaba in the kitchen.
The latest one comes with impressive credentials, too. Executive Chef R.J. Subaba has cooked at the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, Murray Circle at Cavallo Point in Sausalito, Madera at the Rose Wood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, and the Village Pub in Woodside. He’s joined in the kitchen by Executive Pastry Chef Katelyn McCulloch, formerly of the Plumed Horse in Saratoga.
When I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant in December, the restaurant offered only tasting menus. But Subaba says a la carte options will debut soon. A new wood-fired grill also was recently installed.
Wine flights at 31st Union in San Mateo.
David Hunsaker leads a busy life.
By day, he works in sales for a commercial printing business.
By night (and weekends), he oversees the farm-to-table restaurant he opened last summer in downtown San Mateo, 31st Union.
The name of the restaurant refers to the fact that California was the 31st state in the union. It also proclaims the restaurant’s commitment to sourcing ingredients from within the state.
The 50-seat establishment is compact, with wood tabletops affixed to sawhorse legs that are set close together. A large bank of windows lets in a lot of natural light, all the better to illuminate the funky, charming decor. Think rustic and reclaimed, with barn wood wall panels, a polished cement floor, and a California state flag hanging on one wall. The focal point is a chalkboard-like outline of California on a back wall, with feathered arrows pointing to the areas where the restaurant’s ingredients have come from. Even the hallway leading to the restroom gets an artsy treatment with a bank of clip boards, each holding a page from a vintage catalog.
The decor is all about funky, fun and reclaimed.
The focal point of the restaurant.
It’s a celebration of California.
Recently, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant to try Executive Chef Paul Burzlaff’s cooking. He was most recently sous chef at the Restaurant at Wente Vineyards in Livermore.