30 June 2013

Union Rooftop does Mpls. proud

I would rave about Union Rooftop for the veal chop alone. But there are a lot of other good reasons to post a favorable review.

Rooftop dining has become a real fad. Union is unique, however, in that it’s rooftop features a retractable cover. So customers enjoyed Union’s rooftop all winter (which this year was very long in Minneapolis). We didn’t get there during the winter. However, we did look forward to enjoying a pleasant June evening with friends celebrating our respective anniversaries. UnionRooftop

Union’s menu offers a lot of variety and a wide range of options. Customers can make choices from “Snacks,” “Share Plates,” “Appetizers,” “Salads,” and “Entrees.” There were a lot of appealing items. Ultimately, we decided on salads and entrees. But here are a few of the tempting dishes that would make a return visit worthwhile:

  • Savory Donut Holes with Shallots, Bacon & a Dutch Cheese;
  • Buffalo-Style Pan-Fried Oysters with Blue Cheese & Shaved Celery;
  • Caper-Caraway Potato Chips with Smoked Salmon Mousse.

The shared plates were assorted meats (they avoided the term charcuterie), a seafood sampler, and a cheese plate. On the appetizer list, I was tempted by the lamb meatballs and the chicken liver parfait.

So that’s what we passed up. Here’s what we had:

Among the four of us, we tried all three of the salads on the menu. I had the Caesar. It featured a soft-boiled egg (instead of an anchovy perhaps?) and a garlic brioche crumble instead of croutons. It was excellent. The egg was prepared just right, so that when I cut into it, the warm rich yolk spread over the salad. My wife’s salad consisted of apples and shaved sunchokes with hazelnuts and goat cheese. She generally orders her salad with dressing on the side; she forgot this time, but said that the dressing was so good she didn’t mind. The other salad was more traditional – baby lettuce and mixed herbs with aged cheddar cheese and cider vinaigrette.

The entrees that our group ordered were creative and flavorful. My wife ordered the skirt steak with “pomme frites.” The steak was done just to her liking and the fries were crisp and delicious. The wife of the other couple ordered grilled salmon, which she liked.

The two men had the veal chop. I love veal chop, and the best I’ve ever had is served at Charlie Palmer in DC. It’s not always on the menu, but when it is, I always order it. In the past, I’ve been disappointed by veal chops served in Minnesota. They’ve always been thin and often overdone. But Union’s veal chop was excellent. It was thick and delicious. I also loved the way it was served, on a bed of barley with butter, mushrooms, and artichokes.

I do have to report a couple of glitches, however. I ordered my veal medium rare. My friend ordered his medium. I took two bites and was thinking that the veal was done more than medium rare. It was still very tender and tasty, but I asked my friend if his chop was done to his liking. He commented that his was not done enough. So we figured they switched the plates. No big deal. We just traded and enjoyed our meals.

The second glitch, however, was a little more annoying. As you might expect for a trendy downtown spot, Union attracts a pretty young crowd. I think we were the victims of profiling. When we showed up for our reservation, we saw the hostesses confer with each other, and then we were lead to a table that was under the edge of the retractable roof. We objected that we wanted to be outdoors. At first we were told that there wasn’t another table available, but we held our ground and were shown a nice table for four in the middle of the floor with nothing above us but the blue sky.

But once we were seated, the service was friendly and attentive. Everything else about the evening was great, and we definitely will be back in the future.

My retirement reception was a Rare treat

A little more than a year ago, a magazine that’s circulated to the Parkwood Knolls neighborhood hosted a dinner at Rare Steak & Sushi in downtown Minneapolis. I really liked it and wrote a favorable post (click here to read it). RareParty

We still haven’t returned for dinner. But Land O’Lakes hosted a retirement reception there for me. The experience just reconfirmed how much I like it. They gave us a very nice party room. There was a horseshoe-shaped food station in the middle of the room with appetizers arrayed around it, a well-stocked bar near the entrance, and several high-top tables and regular tables set up in the room.

The food was great. The sushi was the biggest hit. By the time I got to the buffet toward the end of the reception, there were only two pieces left. The beef tataki that I described in my original post was excellent. There was fried calamari and a shrimp cocktail platter. There also was a platter of fresh vegetables, though it didn’t look like many people had that. Same for a platter of tomato and mozzarella bruschetta.

Staff members at Rare were very friendly and accommodating. They circulated among the guests and served drinks as well as serving from the bar. We had a few special requests which were quickly handled.

Rare is still on my list for a return visit. I recommend it.