Union on Yale, 232 Yale Ave. (at Bonita), Claremont
Union on Yale is the second restaurant in the Village by John Solana, who opened the gastropub Back Abbey in 2008 (see my writeup here) and kicked the dining scene in the pants.
Union on Yale, which opened in late 2011, takes the place of Casa Flores, a nursery, across from Rhino Records and uses the old nursery area to excellent effect as outdoor dining. The majority of the seating is outdoors on compacted dirt or concrete, some shaded by trees or an overhang, with a fire pit and, of all things, a bocce ball court.
The menu changes seasonally, meaning that any items mentioned below probably aren’t available now — my meals were in the spring, not the summer — but perhaps they will be again, and anyway you’ll get the general idea. I’ve had three meals and have enjoyed them all. (Find the current menu on their website.)
My first visit I had grilled scallops ($12), wood-fired and presented on a bed of arugula, which proved to be more of an appetizer than an entree. So I ordered a roasted pear salad ($8, pictured) on frisee lettuce. My friend had a turkey, avocado and bacon sandwich ($12), stacked high, with tasty fries. A baby beet salad ($9) has oranges and candied walnuts, and even yours truly, who wrinkles his nose at beets, went back for seconds.
They do pizzas ($13 to $16), baked in a wood-burning oven, that come out charred and delicious, in a credible replica of the Pizzeria Mozza style. I’ve had three: an all-mushroom pizza called the forest floor, which beat the CPK version; one with roasted sweet peppers and housemade sausage; and one with asparagus. That was a friend’s idea, but I didn’t mind at all. (They do have a pizza with pepperoni.)
I’ve tried a couple of desserts ($8 each), the poached pear (pictured) and the citrus menage, which arrived in a mason jar and was as delicious as it was adorable.
The idea is that this is locally sourced, European peasant food, good for sharing and presented in a relaxing outdoor atmosphere. They also have cocktails ($10) and wine by the glass, plus tap and bottle beers. Union on Yale is pretty much unique in our area. Like Back Abbey, it’s closed on Sunday, other than for brunch, but that’s how they roll.