I finally made it to Union Square Café, the first restaurant of acclaimed chef and entrepreneur Danny Meyer that reopened in a new location. I am glad it did as I was stunned by the news that it would close. I love the concept that Danny Meyer apparently tried to instill when opening it to make it successful: focus on customer satisfaction that is something I experienced in most of his fine dining restaurants, like Gramercy Tavern or The Modern (I still rave about this place), but also in more casual, like Marta. And I think that the non-tipping part of it is a great idea, allowing everyone in the staff to share the tip, sharing that is otherwise not permitted by law if I remember well. That’s true that we, as diners, when we tip, tip the wait staff, but there are other people we do not see who contribute directly or indirectly to the experience we have.
So here we are on a Friday, at 6:30pm. We got a reservation in the bar area rather than the dining room, but the menu is the same. Service was fine, but we could see that the staff was a bit overwhelmed. Food wise, it was fantastic: each dish was delicious and beautifully plated. Here is what I tried:
As a cocktail, I got the Market Smash, made with Bourbon, Amaro, Strawberry and Mint, a quite refreshing drink.
Oysters: the menu was not that clear and I thought there were two kinds instead of four. So, I was surprised to see 12 oysters coming when I asked for 3 of each and expected only 6. I read too fast and was glad to see that the table next to us made the same mistake...The oysters were from:
- Peeko, NY
- Scorton Creek, MA
- Buckley Bay, BC (Canada)
- Compass Point, WA
All of them tasted fresh with a different texture that was interesting to compare. I definitely did not regret keeping the dish and not sending it back.
I then tried their Peking Duck breast, served with Ruby streaks, cherries and tater tots. The duck was sublime, perfectly cooked, with a slightly crispy skin that was delightfully fatty. I always love when duck is paired with something sweet like honey or fruit and was not disappointed.
Jodi on her side got the Bibb & Red Oak Leaf Lettuce salad, made with gruyere, Dijon vinaigrette and sourdough croutons:
And the Sweet Corn Sformato, a sort of Italian custard that was composed of black truffle, sungold tomatoes and chervil. This was very good and a great vegetarian dish.
Last was dessert. We hesitated between the banana tart and the S'mores Pavlova. We went for the latter that was made with a toasted marshmallow with inside some ganache, molten cake,
and a Graham Cracker Ice Cream. It looked great and was delicious, not too sweet, a great take on a classic dessert.
This was a great way to end a wonderful dinner. Union Square Cafe is a great place to know if you want great food in a relaxed atmosphere. I definitely recommend it!
Enjoy (I did)!
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Union Square Cafe - 101 E 19th Street, New York, NY 10003