11 Jan WHEN THE BAR IS THE STAR: UNION SQUARE CAFE, NYC
The hostess, dwarfed by mural-sized art and double-height ceilings, asked if I had a reservation for a table. I happily smiled and said no as I eyed my friend with the seat next to him occupied by his briefcase at the soon-to-be-packed bar at the Union Square Cafe.
This defining culinary counter for ciprofloxacin hci contemporary-minded American cuisine has been going strong for more than a quarter century. Except for a few slight changes – the shelves of booze on the mirrored wall and the barrista station at its far end – the bar at the Union Square Cafe has remained a constant in New York City. Luckily certain things don’t change.
The food, with its signature direct-from-the-farmer’s market fare (the restaurant is steps away from Union Square and the farm stalls that fill its perimeter Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays) is as seasonal and locavore as any restaurant can get. Need proof? Just stop by on a summer day for a
slice of your dream blueberry pie.
Regulars or first-time visitors are welcomed as if they’ve been part of the Union Square family for years. Starts off with the ramekin of olives, the basket of artisanal breads and herb garnished butter, all appearing seamlessly
as you settle in with the menu. Among the handful of signature dishes that remain steadfast and true are iced oysters on the half shell, fritto misto and the USC hamburger. Any of these followed by the USC banana tart adorned with macadamia brittle and honey-vanilla ice cream and you’re talking about capital YUM.
Service is key to the flagship restaurant of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality group that includes the high brow Modern at MoMA and the soon-to-be-in-a neighborhood near you SHAKE SHACK.
Let’s use the USC hamburger as an example – it’s a New York gem of custom blended beef ground in house and escorted to your plate with cheese, bacon, pickles and fries. Feel like a bit of broccoli rabe “Mama Romano Style” with your fries? No worries as the wait staff is always happy to have the kitchen make a substitution or split. It also helps that this is done without an additional charge (at $16 this is a heifer of a deal). Ponder all you may but you’ll be hard pressed to find another restaurant that goes out of its way to please regardless of whether you’re proletariat or of Downton Abbey born.
And, about that bar: it takes a life on of it’s own, separate from the restaurant which can feel a bit dated in its contemporary style and claustrophobic low ceilings. At the Union Square Cafe the bar is its own little world within the restaurant – as it curves outward from the host station a massive vase of flowers, grouping of shrubs and blooming branches that often rocket skyward as if still a tree, creates an enclave that is intimate and inviting even with expectant diners mulling about behind the long row of seats.
No doubts about it, this bar is a star.