ADDRESS: 302 N Carson Street, Carson City, NV 89701
A couple of weekends ago marked a trip up to the Lake Tahoe area for a bachelor / bachelorette party for my brother Kevin and his fiancée Alina. Almost everyone arrived into the Reno area around midday on Friday, so we all decided to find a place to meet up for lunch down in Carson City, which was on the way south towards Lake Tahoe.
The restaurant itself is located in the Carson City historic district, just a few blocks away from the state capital building, and with a good amount of street parking available near the place. Walking in, I got a bit of a modern industrial feel to the décor, with the combination of wood, brick, and metal elements. The exposed HVAC routing in the ceiling did also add to that industrial vibe, but was painted black to try and be more discreet about it.
After an initial look over their menu, I was definitely pretty impressed at the variety of the foods they offered. It did feel at the gastropub level, where it wasn’t only traditional pub fare like wings and fries. You also had the Burnt End Flatbreads, Salt ‘N Pepper Crispy Calamari, or even some Ahi Tuna Poke. For your main course options, you had a choice between salads, pizzas, burgers, along with a few other options like lamb gnocchi, smoked pork belly mac ‘n cheese, and fish & chips.
Everyone was thoroughly hungry after our respective flights, so we were definitely in the mood to crush some appetizers. We ended up ordering the Burnt End Flatbreads, Smoked Chicken Wings (BBQ), Salt ‘N Pepper Crispy Calamari, Soft Pretzel Twist, and the Sausage Platter to share for the table. With all of the breweries that I’ve been to, I’ve typically gone with their pizzas, which have been a solid choice. This instance was no different, as I decided to go with the Bee Sting: serrano peppers, basil, salami, red onions, and a honey drizzle. The pizza typically has mozzarella cheese, but I requested to substitute out for goat cheese instead.
It didn’t seem like it was very long before there was a procession of plates coming out from the kitchen, comprising of all five appetizers that we ordered. They ended up taking most of the free space in the middle of the table, where we arranged them side-by-side. I first sampled the calamari, which I thought had a nice amount of seasoning on them. The chunks of squid, however, did resemble more like the size of Chick-Fil-A nuggets. The soft pretzel was pretty straightforward in terms of what to expect, and the same thing with the wings. They were supposed to be smoked, but I’m not sure if that flavor might have gotten overwhelmed by the barbecue sauce it was tossed in.
The sausage platter was a sampling mix of chorizo, jalapeño cheddar, and bratwurst, served with two types of mustards, pickles, and sauerkraut. I was only able to try the chorizo and bratwurst with some of the spicy Dijon mustard, and those were solid as well. It was the Burnt End Flatbreads, however, that probably left the strongest impression for me. Taco-sized naan flatbreads were layered with coleslaw, a sweet chili glaze, along with some chunks of burnt end pork belly. It was a really good mix of sweet and savory flavors, with the acidity from the chili glaze helping to provide a nice contrast. The only area of improvement that I could see would have been to have more chunks of the pork belly per flatbread.
If I were to go back and order two of those appetizers again, I would probably go for those flatbreads as well as the calamari. They definitely stood out the most out of the five that we sampled. I thought that the remainder of the appetizers were more on the average side, but still had good flavor if you were in the specific mood for them.
I must have been extra hungry that day, because even after going through all of those appetizers, I still managed to down the entire Bee Sting pizza that I had as my main course. The smell of it was really good, and it didn’t look like it would be too heavy either. It didn’t have any tomato sauce on it and the good amount of goat cheese on the pizza melted pretty well, too.
I think that I was able to get that well-rounded bite that comprised of the sweet, savory, umami, and spicy flavors, all-in-one. The sliced serranos definitely gave it a bit of a kick, but the heat built up with each bite and didn’t punch you from the get-go. The sweetness from the honey contrasted the spiciness, while the salami helped provide more of the savory and umami flavors with every bite. I also appreciated the aromatics that the basil helped to provide as well. It was an overall really good pizza that checked off a lot of flavor notes, and also didn’t feel too heavy after eating the whole thing.
It was certainly a good way to start off the trip with getting in some good food, especially after a morning spent traveling. I definitely have to give credit to my brother’s fiancée, Alina, for choosing the place on Yelp, and it turned out to be really solid. The atmosphere was casual and relaxed, there was a really good diversity with food options available, and everything tasted really great. If you were like us and flew into Reno before going down to Lake Tahoe’s southern shore, definitely consider taking this pit stop in Carson City to fill up on some good food.
Let’s now take a look at The Union Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
** Burnt End Flatbreads **
Pork belly, coleslaw, and a sweet chili glaze drizzle served on naan flatbreads.
** Sausage Platter **
Chorizo, jalapeño cheddar, bratwurst, potatoes, sauerkraut, mustards, and pickles.
** BBQ Smoked Chicken Wings **
Chicken wings and drumsticks, smoked and fried, tossed in BBQ sauce.
** Salt ‘N Pepper Crispy Calamari **
Breaded squid, deep-fried, served with a citrus aioli and spicy aioli.
Soft Pretzel Twist
Pretzel twist, served with Union Beer cheese sauce.
** Bee Sting Pizza **
Serrano peppers, basil, salami, red onion, honey drizzle (pictured with goat cheese).
And finally, here are my rankings for The Union:
Food: 4.75 / 5
From pizzas to burgers to sandwiches to salads, there really was a pretty wide variety available on the menu. The Burnt End Flatbreads almost immediately caught my eye when I was looking through the menu, and it was the first time I had tried something like it. I found that the quality of the food was really good, and everyone at the table left feeling really satisfied.
Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5
It was a nice environment that seemed casual enough where a T-shirt and jeans would be okay; at the same time, if you wanted to come here with a button down and slacks for a business lunch, that would work too. The tables themselves were pretty well spaced out, providing a comfortable experience for the diners.
Service: 3.75 / 5
I will say that our experience with the our initial impression of our waitress was slightly below average. I don’t recall that she really even welcomed us, just walked up to the table with pad in hand to start jotting down what we wanted to drink. That being said, all of our food came out to the table in pretty good time (even all five of our appetizers arrived back-to-back).
Price: 4.25 / 5
The pricing on the food in general seemed a bit on the higher side, with most personal-sized pizzas averaging around $17. I also thought the portions on the appetizers could have been bumped up slightly for their price points. But despite that fact, I think that it was worth paying the price, for the atmosphere as well as the quality of the food itself.