Union Square Café

21 East 16th St.,

New York, NY

Tel. +1 (212) 243-4020

Union Square Café is a Manhattan landmark. Although today the neighborhood is quite chic, that certainly wasn’t the case when Danny Meyer opened in 1985. Union Square Café has a familiar, comfortable feel that resonates in everything from the décor, to the food and service. On this night the food was terrific, although it was impossible to escape the feeling that the overall experience was a bit staid. A slight updating wouldn’t be a bad thing.

The fried calamari and tuna tartare appetizer were delicious. I especially enjoyed the tuna, which was full of hearty, bold flavors accented by the slightly larger dice of the fish than is common in most versions of this dish. Littorai’s 2008 Chardonnay Charles Heintz Vineyard showed attractive lemon, smoke and mineral notes overlayed with subtle hints of French oak. It paired beautifully with our first two appetizers, but was at its most satisfying when paired with the Cappellini with Bottarga. The rich, deep flavors of fish roe needed an intense wine, and the Littorai was striking with this pasta dish.

The main courses were the stars on this night. The Berkshire pork chop was perfectly cooked and seasoned. Sweet notes from the squash and figs worked beautifully. The lamb chops were even tastier, with plenty of flavor but no elements at all of gaminess. All of the elements on the plate were beautifully balanced. Arcadian’s 2006 Pinot Noir Dierberg Vineyard offered a wonderful combination of richness and understated elegance that allowed it to pair well with both main courses while not overwhelming the food. I especially like the purity of the floral, mineral-infused fruit. We skipped desserts, but the plates being brought into the dining room looked very appealing.


Fried Calamari, Spicy Anchovy Mayonnaise

Tuna Tartare, Preserved Lemon, Capers, Aleppo Cracker

Cappellini with Bottarga

Berkshire Pork Chop, Roasted Delicata Squash, Figs, Braised Greens

Grilled Lamb Chops Scotta Dita, Swiss Chard, Potato-Gruyère Gratin



Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve



Littorai Chardonnay Charles Heintz Vineyard



Arcadian Pinot Noir Dierberg Vineyard


-- Antonio Galloni

[Photo and credit: Union Square Cafe, New York]