Monday, October 29, 2007

A re-union at USC

There’s something very cosy about Union Square Café, it’s like a big warm hug of a restaurant. DD and I have declared it to be ‘our’ restaurant and no visit to New York would really be complete without a visit. I guess we set a precedence last year by lingering over a long and late, luscious lunch on my birthday and then hanging around the bar even longer to toast KK’s birth with gorgeous pink cocktails (me initiating DD to the delights of the Chambord orb!), wait long enough for the famed bar nuts to materialise and put off the inevitable, unenviable task of departing from Manhattan to spend the rest of the week in the culinary dearth of deepest New Jersey. This time we were determined yet again that our final hours in the big apple would be at USC’s pleasure and we’d also introduce another J to our fave NY hangout. It’s clear that plenty agree with us. One of the fabulous quirks of the menu is that there are daily specials based on the finest ingredients they’ve picked up at the green market in Union Square and weekly specials that are well known and locals will revisit on the say Monday for the special ‘USC’s Lobster “Shepherd’s Pie” – with Mushrooms, Mashed Potatoes, Spinach, Carrots and Lobster Sauce’ night and just have that before heading home or out. We met one of these locals who regularly popped in for a spot of sustenance and sat at the bar whilst his favourite dish was delivered to him. And I am sure I would be a very regular diner if I lived just a little closer!

We were sat at one of the linen clad tables by the door as we hadn’t booked and could experience the full cheesiness of the ‘meeter and greeter’ who had just that specific tone of indifferent and insincere feelings that I expected ‘and you’ll find your exits, here, here and two over the wing…’ to waft over to us any minute. But we couldn’t be distracted by her false smiles for long as the very serious business of the menu being examined at length bought a hush to our table. We decided that we’d start our meal with a Kir Imperial and then share a plate of Seared Foie Gras with Toasted Cornbread, Roasted Mission Figs and Grape Relish before DD tucked in to the Herb-Roasted Amish Chicken with White Wine Jus, Sautéed Wild Mushrooms, Greenmarket Arugula and Parmigiano Bread Pudding, another J selected the Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Balsamic Butter, Roasted Autumn Vegetables, Guanciale, Currants and Pine Nuts.

I just had so many to choose from prevaricated over the infamous Lobster Shepherd’s Pie or the Crispy Lemon-Pepper Duck or the Grilled Lamb Chops Scotta Dita with Potato-Gruyère Gratin but eventually plumped for the special of the day the Bacon Wrapped Monkfish with Porcini Risotto and Sautéed Escarole. It was imperative that I ordered Union Square Cafe’s Mashed Potatoes with Frizzled Leeks and Sautéed Broccoli Rabe “Mama Romamo style” for us all to share.

The seared foie gras was stunning and delicious and once polished off we turned our attention to pondering extensively about the Amish chicken. I am not terribly familiar with Amish lore but felt that a chicken probably wouldn’t really miss buttons, cars, electricity or even insurance as really they just want to scratch, perch and have the odd dust bath. If the Amish order that bred these very fine chicken was only permitted to use horse and buggy I could imagine that getting the plump chickens to market might be a challenge but perhaps exceptions are made. They were certainly very fine chickens, juicy and oh so flavoursome however deprived of electricity they were. DD’s Parmigiano bread pudding was soft and tasty also.

Another J relished her scallops and even let us appreciate their sweet plumpness for ourselves.

My monkfish was a deliciously undemanding and comforting dish to eat; with unctuous risotto (not quite as stunning at that one at Café Gray but gorgeous all the same) and of course there was some sublime mash to enjoy alongside the verdant broccoli.

We were going to seriously struggle to tear ourselves away from such magnificence. And we turned out to be so stuffed that we couldn’t even face a dessert with three spoons. It was with great regret that we stopped pondering our nicely rounded tummies, settled the bill and ventured into the cold again in search of our luggage and a long train journey.

I can promise the justifiably three-forked USC that we will be back as soon as we can. Please have our usual table waiting adorned with fresh Kir Imperials and herbed, spicy nuts to share. Hmmm, mmmm, mmmm. What shall we say DD, table for 7 o’clock?

1 comment:

DD said...

Dearest J,

Reading this post made me pine for more Amish! What a truely stunning meal, with fabulous company to boot! I do love the USC terribly so, however, they could do with a new 'meeter & greeter'. She was simply horrid!

A table for 7 o'clock indeed! This weekend? See you there Diva..

Mmmnnnn, I can already taste the Kir Imperial and the nuts!