Astaria Restaurant Review, San Mateo
Posted by Foodnut.com
50 E. 3rd Ave.(near El Camino real)
San Mateo, CA 94402
Restaurant.com sells discounted Certificates for this restaurant.
Astaria serves California cuisine “Food that Hugs you” in downtown San Mateo with a focus on seasonal and local ingredients. The restaurant is part of the Benjamin Franklin Hotel, and the restrooms require you to go into the hotel. Opened in 2003, this restaurant has grown in popularity lately, so we decided to give it a read visit after many years. Alicia Petrakis, who previously was in catering, is the Executive Chef and Co-owner. Our last visit was in the summer of 2012.
Decor, Vibe – Astaria updated its decor and menu in 2010 and features a bar up front, booth seating, lots of homey wood tones, and lots of light from the windows by the sidewalk. Dinner found the restaurant packed with families, middle aged folks, larger parties, nearby dot-commers.
Astaria’s Menu features all sorts of comfort food from fried chicken and fish to cippino to steak. The menu changes seasonally and they have special menus for the holidays.
Mango Kiwi Mojito ($9.50) bacardi superior, fresh kiwi, mint, mango, lime with a splash of soda was a decent drink with good strength and not too much fruitiness.
Charbroiled Hamburger Deluxe 1/2 lb ($12) burger served with the works: shredded lettuce, tomatoes,
onions, pickles and Astaria’s special sauce on a brioche bun was a huge burger, cooked to a perfect medium-rare and dripping with juices. Fries were a bit on the over-salted side.
Pulled Pork Sandwich ($12) Asian inspired pulled pork, cabbage slaw and a ginger hoisin sauce was also a huge sandwich with tons of tender pork on a dutch crunch roll.
Chicken Club Sandwich ($14) oraganic chicken breast, applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, cheddar, avacado, lettuce and paprika aioli was a good sized sandwich but came with some items we asked to be omitted. The fixed version hit the spot and proved to be a satisfying lunch.
Steamers Combo ($10) with mussels and clams in a very well done savory broth was a must-get appetizer. Be sure to dip bread and scoop up every bit of the tasty broth.
Mom’s three onion soup ($7) three onion, toasted sweet baguette, a hint of sherry and melted gruyere looked like a mess but had very good flavor and some quality cheese. A tad on the sweet side.
Flaming Umberto Video
Humberto’s Inferno ($9) panfried gruyere cheese ‘flambé’ table side is one of their popular appetizers. The entire restaurant stops for a moment to watch the craziness. Brandy fuels the fire on top of this sizzling cheese. The fried gruyere has pungent odors, a nice crust and some fresh squeezed lime juice rounded out. The area around the event, smells for a while thereafter.
Astaria’s Skirt Steak “Balsamico” ($25) bacon fried yukon gold potatoes, gorgonzola, bacon and seasonal vegetables is a signature dish and rightly so. A nice long, somewhat tender cut of beef bathed in a sweet sauce that is sure to satisfy meat lovers. A large fresh vegetable medley topped off this dish.
Alaskan halibut pan seared ($25) on a bed of herb risotto, spring vegetables and a pistachio pistou finished with a white wine butter sauce was excellent. The fish was cooked perfectly and the Rissoto’s flavors contrasted well with the large sized halibut filet. A good bundle of julieenned vegetables rounded out this dish.
Oregon Cod ($21.00) pan roasted cod, spring risotto (artichoke, asparagus, peas) with meyer lemon and mint salsa verde was recommended by our server and proved to be a worthy choice. The fish was cooked correctly and the risotto was a nice balance to the cod’s meatiness.
Double-dip buttermilk soaked fried chicken ($18) fresh organic Petaluma boneless chicken marinated in buttermilk then dipped twice in seasoned flour, fried and served with garlic mashed potatoes is one of their most popular entrees. A large serving of deep-fried thin breast meat goodness. No bones to worry about and some decent mashed potatoes. Could have used some vegetables to balance out the artery clogging.
Bread Pudding ($6) was a huge portion of not too sweet, above-average bread pudding topped off with some whipped cream a raspberry.
Mojito ($9) Malibu rum, Bacardi rum, fresh mint and plenty of muddled and topped with a float of meyer’s dark rum was a tall drink balanced toward the strong side which could have used a little more sweetness.
Kids pepperoni pizza ($8) feature freshly made dough and a non-soggy crust. Flavor wise it was average.
Kids penne pasta ($8) with butter was pretty average but did include a drink and the scoop of ice cream.
Service – Astaria was hampered by the busyness of the restaurant. The server was friendly and knowledgeable but just overloaded. The other workers get their tasks dutifully.
Value – Astaria’s comfort food is priced on par with other upper mid range fine dining establishments.
Nearby decent restaurants include several Japanese restaurants including top-rated Hotaru and Sushi Sam’s. Decent Chinese restaurants include Champagne Seafood. Nearby Acqua Pazza and Capellini serve solid Italian food.
Verdict – Astaria serves up solid comfort food in an elegant environment at reasonable prices. It is easy to see why this place is so popular with a wide variety of folks. Everyone can find something they like on their menu. We have no problems recommending this place as it is a solid experience although service is not top-notch. If you are on a budget, come here during Happy Hour for discounted drinks and food.
Medium sized Wine list with glasses from $7. Children’s menu available.
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