Union Square Cafe has been in this new location for 6 months after having been closed a year for the new building to be readied. It is a huge attractive place with multiple levels and seating configurations. There is also a large bar area with stools and tables that accommodate walk-ins. The tables are nicely spaced and there is a lot of art on the walls. No background music keeps the noise level at a good level, which is surprising with the high ceilings and many hard surfaces. Service was excellent, which is one of the things the restaurant stresses. Our nice waiter Tomas, was happy to give advice and serve or split dishes as we desired.
Tables are set with an olive assortment and bread and butter. All tasty and good for snacking. We started with the Aperitif special, an apricot spritz. It was delicious and really tasted of fresh sweet apricots.
We split the Fritto Misto appetizer. It was perfectly fried pieces of calamari, halibut, peppers and spring onions. The coating was light but nicely crisp and allowed the interior to retain its individual textures. The mayo dip served with the dish was tasty and I could’t decide if I liked it better with sauce, a little lemon or just plain. It was fun and not to heavy, a perfect dish to split.
We also split an order of the Candele pasta, mixed with carrots, Fresno chilies, Greek yogurt and pancetta. It was very tasty and the roasted carrots blended well with the yogurt. The pork bits gave it a fun zip to the flavor. A winner here.
The USC Burger is served with Beecher’s Flagship cheddar, bacon on a brioche bun with a side of French fries. The burger is the precursor of the one now served by Shake Shack. It is a combination of brisket, chuck and short rib meat. Pickles and onions are served on the side and no sauce is on it. It was very tasty but I would have expected a lot more dripping but maybe they had made this batch too lean. The fries had good potato taste but were not blistered. They needed a bit of salt but that was easily remedied. There was a nice amount of tasty bacon and an addition of a little butter helped the taste needs.
For dessert we had the Chocolate Pecan Tart which was made with maple bourbon jam and served with coconut ice cream. The ice cream was excellent – creamy and full of coconut flavor but no shreds. The tart had a good layer of chocolate on top of the nuts and gooey layer. It was a satisfying sweet fix.
The waiter also wanted us to try their housemade sorbets and brought dishes of Clementine and Arnold Palmer which was a mix of tea and lemonade. Both were strongly flavored and icy smooth.