Believe it or not, I’ve never been to the famous Union Square Cafe Union Square Cafe. It’s expensive, and at times very hard to get reservations, so somehow, it has slipped through, until today. My friend Lily and I made last minute plans for lunch there and it happens to be restaurant week (which I pay no attention to for dinner since I haven’t been impressed the last few times). We had a very enjoyable lunch for a very good price so I’m sure to return to Union Square Cafe again, at least for lunch during restaurant week.

The atmosphere is nothing fancy, just clean and comfortable, tables spaced apart nicely unlike most of NYC. The floors were slippery though and I almost fell twice. Three types of fresh bread, olives, and butter are presented at seating and water is delivered and refilled promptly. I was very happy with their 2008 restaurant week menu because there was four choices per course. I hate when there is only two choices for any of the courses and I’ve seen that often on restaurant week menus, which is one of the reasons I stopped going.

For appetizers, Lily started with the Mushroom Bruschetta with Baby Mustard Greens and Goat Cheese. The flavors were nicely balanced and each ingredient was noticeably fresh. I selected the Crispy Eggplant “Meatballs” with Peperonata Vinaigrette and Ricotta. It was fantastic! Even Lily, who does not like eggplant, thought it was delicious. After finishing the eggplant-balls, I wiped the plate clean with bread. The oil used, the light cheese, and peperonata were so good! I could’ve eaten another plate.

Since Lily had never eaten Arctic Char, our wonderful and informative waiter recommended she try it. It was nicely presented with crispy skin and a Citrus-Watercress Salad and Chopped Egg. The fish was cooked perfectly and showcased the wonderful texture of Arctic Char. They were also careful to use lighter accompaniments that would not overpower the subtle flavor of this fish. I could not resist the sound of Tender Braised Heritage Pork and Fennel Stew with Parmigian Polenta. It was exactly as it sounds, a great winter comfort food. The generous portion of pork stew was larger than I expected and the awesome polenta was super rich and buttery. I was so full and trying hard to finish it.

I was a bit less impressed with our desserts. Lily’s banana cheesecake had that fake banana taste and the crust was a bit salty. I liked the Rum Roasted Pineapple surrounding it because you could see and taste the vanilla bean but overall, didn’t care for it. My Piemontese Hazelnut Cake had a hard texture and was very dense for cake. I loved the accompanying Gianduja ice cream but didn’t even finish half the cake.

I can tell that Union Square Cafe pays attention to their ingredients and the executions are mostly done well. Very nice presentations, the service is superb, and the location is ultra convenient. So today, I considered the $24.95 per person (pre-tax and tip), a great deal. Definitely try to visit them during lunch for restaurant week. They don’t participate in dinner anyway.

posted by jessica at 02:45 PM Filed under American and New American, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.