Sunday, July 27, 2008

Union Square Café

Let me start by saying that I think it is possible for one to eat at too many good restaurants in a small span of time. When you go on a trip you’ve got to create a diverse mix of dining levels into your trip. If you eat at top notch restaurants every evening, I think you end up having one clear favorite and the others seem to be a bit of a letdown. In the end they all kind of blend together and you end up wasting a lot of money. To some degree you also end up excluding many places that should probably be visited; if for no other reason but to experience the true local gems.

Not to give too much away, but I think our visit to Union Square Café is a good example of my “too many restaurants” theory.

We had been doing research for quite some time heading into the New York portion of our trip and found that people had a high opinion of the food at Union Square Café. Regina’s two brothers were going to be joining us, so it sounded like it would be the perfect place considering her one brother is a little more on the traditional side when it comes to food. I thought the menu would certainly fit the bill for all tastes involved.

We meet her brothers and take the subway down to Union Square. To our delight we were promptly seated. The restaurant was entirely full (which was a good sign).

We sat down and decided to order a couple appetizers. Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of what I would call “shareable” appetizers. We ordered a pasta special that had parmigiano reggiano, corn, and cream sauce. My wife says it was her favorite thing of the evening. For being so special, I don’t even remember it. We also ordered a cheese plate.

Since it was Sunday night the special was Osso Buco which was a White Wine Orange Braised Veal Shank, with Sautéed Swiss Chard and Creamy Saffron Risotto. This was ordered by my wife and her two brothers. Just what you need on a 90 degree day, a nice light meal, right? I would have liked to see a little variety among everyone’s order so there could have been some sampling. Oh well, what are you go to do? It was a huge portion of Flintstonian scale. This isn’t a bad thing when you’ve got a home to take it to. However, when you’re staying in a hotel you either have to eat it or leave it. My wife gave the other half of hers to her brother.

I ordered the Duck Confit with Roasted Potatoes, Glazed Cippolini, Bitter Greens, and Cherry Vinaigrette. This was a good portioned dish, (not ridiculous) and tasted pretty good.

We decided against getting dessert just because we were so stuffed.

I can’t really say anything bad about Union Square Café, but it also wasn’t anything that knocked my socks off. When it really comes down to it, though, I think it’s pretty hard to blow anyone away with Osso Buco. It’s braised meat. It’s pretty straight forward stuff.

I actually think the menu here is geared more toward fall and winter. It’s just solid, hearty food. If you’re dining with picky eaters this would be a good place to take them. In the end, I don’t think it’s anyplace I’d consider to be a “must see”.

In USC’s defense, they were sandwiched between a dinner at Babbo and a lunch at Jean Georges.

Union Square Cafe on Urbanspoon

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