Friday, March 28, 2008

Union Bar and Grille, Boston

Two nights ago I had the opportunity to re-visit Union Bar and Grille in Boston's South End. I had been last summer for brunch one Sunday and hadn't come away with the best memories of it. I realise though that brunch is rarely the main focus of a restaurant, and was willing to chalk up the bad taste I had in my mouth for Union to that. Needless to say, I was really excited to check it out again, this time for dinner, and really get a true feeling for the place. Unfortunately, I remain disappointed in it.

I started with a shitake mushroom and baby spinach salad, garnished with crispy beets and scallions. I really enjoyed the varied tastes and textures in this salad. The mushrooms had been smoked and so they had a soft texture to them, the baby spinach was bright and clean, and the beets added a nice crispness to the dish. The dressing was heavy in spots, but that is easily remedied at the table.

My main course was shrimp penne with a lobster broth. At least it was advertised with a lobster sauce which was a key reason I got it. Honestly, I have no idea where the lobster was in the broth. It had no taste or odor of lobster, which I found to be rather disappointing. Furthermore, I really couldn't place what the flavor of the sauce was. It wasn't BAD so to speak, but quite disappointing. However, the shrimp were well cooked and they had added roasted cauliflower which I quite enjoy, as well as green olives. It was also advertised to have a pine nut gremolata but this I didn't see or taste at all. Perhaps it was forgotten?

As restaurant week was still going strong for Union, I was able to indulge in a dessert as well without feeling overly guilty about it. I chose to have a chocolate pudding tart topped with marshmallows that had been torched to a nice golden brown, and then garnished with almond clusters. Unlike D's disappointment last week at Stix with their pudding cake, this was a true pudding filling, and was quite tasty. It reminded me of a much more sophisticated s'more. The pastry of the tart was light and flaked nicely, the pudding was very rich, so that the marshmallow was a perfect compliment to it. The almond clusters seemed unnecessary to the dish, but they also didn't detract from it. All in all, I was very pleased by the dessert.

So Union goes down in my book as an ultimate disappointment. I hate to write off restaurants, and will normally continue to go back in the hopes that I just had a bad dish, or it was a bad day, but I think that with Union, it needs to be written off.

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