Thursday, March 19, 2009

Union : Seattle

After perusing some chowhound threads (which I can't seem to find now), I ended up picking Union and Palace Kitchen as my two restaurants to try in Seattle. Union is run by self-taught chef, Ethan Stowell, who also runs two other restaurants, Tavolta and How to Cook a Wolf (named after "the 1942 culinary novel by M.F.K. Fisher which spoke of hunger [the wolf] and the joy of eating).

At Union, you have the option to either order a la carte or order 4 courses for $50. I ended up going for the latter and overall, I must say that I was quite satisfied with my meal. The dishes were ingredient-focused, which I'm a fan of and they were all just tasty and well-executed. One minor nitpick was that all of the dishes played it safe flavorwise and I do wish that some of the dishes pushed on one's comfort boundaries a little bit more.

Totten virginica Oysters - w/ lemon, horseradish, EVOO. I guess this was an example of flavors playing a little bit too safe. There was plenty of sugar to nullify the tartness of the lemon, only a touch of horseradish, but not much as to cause a sinus burn. And overall the sauce covered some of the unique, but I suppose to some unpalatable, oyster taste.

Potato Gnocchi - pork cheeks, marjoram - I can't be objective when it comes to fried potatoes things. All I remember was that these were lighter than I expected and then the entire plate was gone.

Ahi Tuna - Sunchokes, escarole, golden raisins, pine nuts. (I thought I had ordered trout, but this matches the description of what I got). This was like I would cook fish if I could just master doing it. On the raw side, with a deliciously moist and tender texture. The golden raisins added a some sweetness and the pine nuts added some crunchy texture.

Buttered almond, crackers and cheese - light cheese, buttered almond - I forget what cheese this was and with my terrible memory, I can't remember the cheeses that would allow me to describe this one better. But I will say that it paired well with the crackers. The buttered almonds provided an immediate, full-bodied taste, which complemented the more complex/back-end flavor of the cheese and crackers, but I felt a little ambivalent on the simplicity of the almonds coated in butter, almost like they needed an additional flavor or two.

All in all, everything was very pleasingly done and the fact that some of the flavors played a bit too safe would not prevent me from recommending this fine restaurant.

I will also note that the service was quite good as well. Being alone, I ate at the bar and the bartender balanced chatting with me and letting me eat in peace with a great finesse.

1400 First Ave. Seattle, WA (Map) yelp

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