Sure, that has been the better part of my life. However, I am talking great food at a Danny Meyer restaurant. There was that transformative dinner at The Modern some years ago and now a killer lunch at his newly reopened original restaurant.
Childhood and high school friends, Nnenna and Artemis, invited me to celebrate my day at this New York City staple. Neither rain nor bad-hair day would stop me from celebrating the moment with them there. I left in time but did not know the restaurant moved from its 16th Street home. A five-minute walk later, I finally arrived at the new Union Square Café (@UnionSquareCafe, 101 E. 19th St., 212-243-4020, www.unionsquarecafe.com).
Nnenna, Artemis and I caught up over a variety of exceptional wines before making our orders. As usual, I want to eat everything at a Danny Meyer restaurant. You cannot make a bad choice. I was glad the crew was in for an appetizer and entrée, especially during the lunch hour.
We began with Union Square Café’s signature bibb and red oak leaf lettuce salad with shaved Gruyere cheese, sourdough croutons and Dijon vinaigrette. This salad is on Artemis’ permanent menu. Both Nnenna and I went for the fried stuff. She had the delightful asparagus tempura with chili-ramp vinaigrette and white bean yogurt. I had to go for fritto misto of calamari, halibut, peppers and spring onion. Both were fried perfectly, light and not greasy.
Although I could have gone in on any of the entrées at Union Square Café, we settled on a pasta selection. Nnenna went for the pillowy-soft ricotta gnocchi with tomato-basil puree and pecorino Romano cheese. Artemis enjoyed her pappardelle with rabbit ragu and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
My pasta is called frascatelli and it is reminiscent of spätzle. I do love that texture, but what sold me was its preparation with guanciale (pig jowl), seasonal ramps and black pepper cream. A great tempered hand; I could bathe in that dish.
Dessert brought slices of chocolate pecan tart with maple bourbon jam and coconut ice cream, espresso chocolate cake with caramel and espresso ganache and—my favorite—strawberry pavola with mint ice cream, vanilla whipped ganache and strawberry sorbet. And, it’s official, pinot nero is my new favorite white wine.
Thank you, friends. I appreciate you. Union Square Café, you still got it!
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for more than 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email AmNewsFOOD at AmNewsFOOD@SCHOPnyc.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!