I’ve wanted to eat there for over three years, ever since I read Danny Meyer’s book “Setting the Table” in 2007. The book came highly recommended by Fred Wilson, a very popular investor / venture capitalist in New York. Danny is a fantastic restauranteur, and a wonderful writer. The book goes from his childhood through to setting up Union Square Cafe, to extending his restaurant group with new and innovative restaurants across New York. It’s a cross between a behind-the-scenes “foodie” book and a business book; Danny is a very wise man. Like Fred, I’d recommend “Setting the Table” for anyone that is in any sort of service business; you’ll learn something inside.
But back to the food…
Union Square Cafe serves what I would call classic American food, but at a level of quality and perfection that I haven’t ever experienced before. Our starter was “Fritto Misto of Calamari, Bay Scallops, and Gulf Shrimp with Spicy Anchovy Mayonnaise” which was very, very tasty. Despite the fact that I can’t stand anchovies, the mayonnaise was very addictive.
For my main course, I went with “Grilled Smoked Shell Steak with Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes, and Heirloom Carrots”. WOW. Just… WOW. I’ve eaten at some pretty good steakhouses before, but this was out of this world. It was cooked to perfection, and seasoned just right. I think I was talking about this for the next week.
But just when I thought the meal couldn’t get any better, I got “Brioche French Toast with Roasted Apples and Brown Sugar Ice Cream” for dessert. Within one bite, I had found nirvana. I thought that the steak would be the best dish of the meal, but the sweetness of this dessert (combined with my all-too-controlling sweet-tooth) brought the house down.
Finally, I feel that I should comment on the service and staff. Danny Meyer has got a reputation of running restaurants that truly focus on service, and this was very, very clear. They were attentive and friendly when we needed them, and melted away when they weren’t needed. Across the board, the staff were absolutely great.
So if you ever find yourself anywhere near Union Square in New York City, do yourself a favor and enjoy a meal at Union Square Cafe.
(Photo via Wikipedia Commons / Americasroof)