Situated inside the Benjamin Franklin Hotel in downtown San Mateo, Astaria is a Mediterranean inspired restaurant. The interior was pleasant and warm, very suited for a nice business lunch, which was my reason for being there. The menu offered a good selection of salads, sandwiches and light entrees, prices ranged from $5-$15.
I chose to start with their house salad, substituting feta instead of Gorgonzola, with creamy balsamic dressing. For my main I ordered their soup special, pumpkin and shrimp bisque.
The salad was a just simple greens with bit of feta. A bit too much dressing for my taste, but the overall flavor was excellent. I usually eat salads because I feel healthier and righteous :) But this salad was delicious. They really got the balance of the savory cheese and the tartness of the balsamic perfectly. I was also very happy with my bisque selection. Hints of sage and shrimpy savoriness penetrated the entire bisque, as well as two whole shrimps as garnish. The soup was not as sweet as I had anticipated, but I think I was expecting it to taste like butternut squash. The more soup I had, the more I liked it and was glad it was not overly sweet. The complimentary warm chewy bread and butter were the perfect accompaniment to my lunch.
The salad was $5.95, the soup was $7.95.
Services were efficient and friendly. Our water glasses were kept filled and even though we sat for close to an hour and half, they didnt rush us.
If I worked close by I would go here for lunch all the time. Ill bet their dinner menu is excellent as well; maybe someday Ill be in the neighborhood again.
50 E. Third Ave.