Oh, how I have longed to try Chef Ethan Stowell’s Union restaurant (the same Ethan Stowell involved in Tavolata and How to Cook a Wolf). The main reason I had not tried Union sooner was mainly due to my fiancée, who up until a year ago was a very finicky eater. However, when you’re going to marry the Seattle Foodster you are compelled to become a more adventurous diner. This dinner was also special because the Seattle Foodster will be going to law school soon; suffice it to say this was a perfect gift from a wonderful fiancée.
We chose to dine from the tasting menu which allowed us to choose an appetizer, pasta, entrée and dessert. I consider myself an adventurous eater; granted I won’t search out the type of food that will get me my own TV show but, if given the opportunity, I will try most foods that are reasonably appealing to the eye and, of course, the taste buds Given this philosophy, I knew I had to start with Union’s version of steak tartare, Carne Cruda, mixed with anchovy, garlic, lemon, topped with an uncooked quail egg and served along tortilla strip chip.
Honestly I approached my raw, ground starter with some trepidation. The first bite startled my palate as I ran my tongue around the meat. I suppose I was steadying myself for an awkward taste of raw red meat, but instead was greeted with the pleasant taste of the beef accompanied by the tanginess of the other ingredients. The first slow taste quickly led to more reassured bites allowing me to fully appreciate this simple yet elegant dish.
The pasta I ordered was the tagliatelli with beef shortrib sugo, English peas and marjoram. The sugo sauce was enchanting as it formed a glue-like covering around the pasta. The shortrib meat was pulled and tender, in fact I wondered how it would taste served tartare. I advise eating this dish one strand of tagliatelli at a time that way you can maximize the amount of flavor consumed.
The beef striploin entrée is served with English peas, spring onion and potato puree in a red wine sauce. While the beef, which is recommended to be served as medium rare, was quite good it was too simple when considering the depth of the menu. I was quite fond of the creaminess and smoothness of the potato puree.
Unfortunately there were a couple of negative points worth mentioning concerning my experience at Union. After we initially placed our orders for the three courses our waiter returned to inform me the restaurant was out of my original entrée choice which was rabbit loin. No biggie I thought, however a minute later the waiter returned and confessed to my fiancée that her pasta choice was also sold out. This occurred at around 8pm, just three hours into dinner service. Sadly, these were two of the dishes we were looking forward to most. Lastly, which is not necessarily a negative, is that dinner will take you a long, long time. Our dinner ran just shy of three and a half hours, so if you are running short on time keep this in mind.
Overall I was highly impressed with the level of creativity and intensity exhibited by the food at Union. Since the menu portions are smaller I encourage you to order the tasting menu. Sure, four courses may seem like a lot but I assure you that by the time the dessert hits your table you’ll be able to find room for a little bit more.