Shrimp tacos (Photo by Julianne Tripp)
In the far corner of a neighborhood shopping center, a quick drive from Short Pump’s main drag, Union Table & Tap showcases vintage signage, a wooden red, white and blue flag, and the requisite classic-rock playlist. It offers no pretension, no lines, no fuss — an all-Americana outgrowth of The Urban Tavern, its upscale predecessor, due to owner Garland Taylor and executive chef Tim Bereika’s concept remix in February.
The space keeps an expansive bar, outdoor seating and welcoming staffers who manage singletons, couples and families judiciously. You’ll find no one complaining that you brought your baby to this bar; three generations can dine in perfect harmony. Wine and cocktails including a refreshing gin-based mango punch take a back seat to more than 20 varieties of beer. Expect traditional U.S.-of-A. fare: sandwiches, burgers, salads and entrées, with surprising twists — an Old Bay mayo, an addition of braised pork belly, a sprinkle of daikon radish or cherry peppers. Coleslaw makes several appearances on the menu, and dessert selections are limited. Perfectly fried oysters with mignonette aïoli found themselves inhaled, and barbecued-shrimp tacos proved a delicate starter. Brisket, though beautifully plated, lacked heartiness with slices too thin and a texture too tough, but bacon-and-scallion mac ‘n’ cheese saved the dish. Three perfectly pan-roasted scallops with black truffle-balsamic vinaigrette reveal an intentionally casual menu that hasn’t completely abandoned The Urban Tavern’s swank roots. The restaurant proves it’s rewarding to venture off the beaten path as long as you deliver good food and drinks in a relaxing atmosphere.
3 out of 4 forks
10498 Ridgefield Parkway, 716-7028
Hours: Monday through Wednesday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday: 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Clarification: Chef Tim Bereika is no longer at Union Table & Tap.