Built in 1852, the Union Hotel Bar and Grill has survived fires, earthquakes, times of peace and times of turmoil. A variety of owners have operated the establishment since the early Gold Rush days and, most recently, the Union Hotel Restaurant & Bar has reinvented itself with exceptional and imaginative fare from a gifted chef, Gabriel “Gabby” Oviedo. Mr. Oviedo, a seasoned veteran of Bay Area restaurants, is a charming and fascinating host with enthralling tales of the bar’s olden days. His extensive culinary knowledge, and undeniable cooking talent combine to create mouthwatering dishes that feature locally sourced seafood, meats, and vegetarian selections.
The bar area at the Union Hotel is elegant, yet welcoming. The impressive and ancient bar came from the Senate Hotel in Princeton, New Jersey and was originally carved in Africa and brought by ship around Cape Horn. In 1980, the former owners commissioned the stately stained glass windows that commemorate the pioneer days of Benicia’s time as California’s state capital. And the stained glass ceiling fixture was originally from an Elk’s Lodge in Dubuque, Iowa. These old pieces add to the old-fashioned charm and warmth of the room.
Your host, “Gabby” Oviedo has assembled a variety of fine wines, champagne, domestic and imported beers. Specialty cocktails and martinis are also available.
For example, the recently created Protester Punch, with four different rums (Captain Morgan, Mount Gay, Bacardi Light, and Myers), crème de vanilla, orange juice, pineapple juice, sweet and sour mix, a splash of 7-Up and grenadine with fruit garnish is available for your enjoyment. Or perhaps you would prefer “Gabby’s Jolt”– a chocolate/coffee martini with espresso, Stoli Vanilla, Kahlua, Tuaca, homemade cream, and chocolate sprinkles. Happy Hour will be reinstated soon, according to Gabby.
The best appetizer on the menu has to be the delicious mushrooms stuffed with a mix of Italian sausage, leeks, herbs and mozzarella in a silky pinot noir reduction. The savory filling is perfectly enhanced by the luscious sauce. Warm slices of rustic bread are available to sop up any remaining sauce. Other appetizers include lightly fried, crispy calamari with a piquant tomato sauce, a delectable serving of freshly sliced carpaccio, a smoked salmon and goat cheese plate with arugula, onions, and capers, and a tasty bruschetta with chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil.
Salads incorporate lively combinations of farm fresh greens with other ingredients. A traditional Caesar salad with shaved Parmesan and garlic croutons is available, and chicken, bacon or tomatoes can be added as well. A Napa salad is comprised of mixed greens, grapes, caramelized walnuts and blue cheese with a robust wine vinaigrette. The Mediterranean salad has mixed greens, huge prawns, grilled eggplant, roasted bell peppers, and goat cheese with balsamic vinegar dressing. Other salads feature beets with arugula and feta, or a pear salad with fresh and dried fruits. A Caprese salad and spinach salad are also on the menu.
Entrees include the heavenly Margarita Ravioli filled with a creamy blend of butternut squash and ricotta cheese in a light tomato sauce and a hint of brown butter and Parmesan. Delicious grilled lamb chops are available, nestled on a bed of sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes. Seafood kabobs with salmon, scallops, prawns, green pepper and onions are sure to please. For the meat lover, filet mignon and rib eye steaks fill the bill, cooked to your personal taste. Pizzas are available with a wide selection of toppings and cheeses. Pastas like penne with chicken breast, or fettuccine with prawns or steak, are cooked perfectly.
All in all, the Union Hotel Restaurant & Grill is not to be missed. The chef and waitstaff are anxious to please each customer and make sure you enjoy yourself in their old-world establishment. The Union Hotel Restaurant & Bar offers catering services, banquets, and is the perfect location for small weddings or celebrations with its outside patio. Call 707.746.7847 for further information.