Union Fare was much needed in our neighborhood upon it’s arrival. Sprawling all the way from 18th to 17th street, the space is a beautiful compilation of reclaimed wood, chairs made of discarded tire rubber and an extremely long bar. UF opened in May of last year in part of the original Barnes & Noble bookstore space. The chef, Yvan Lemoine, focuses on seasonal American cuisine, with a raw bar and charcuterie station open to the dining room.
Union Fare fulfills more than one purpose; there is a front counter with coffee, tea and pastries making to-go orders accessible as well as a complete Gastrohall during weekdays for lunch in the adjacent space. To add even more to that complete list, I’m pretty sure the downstairs is a lounge/club on weekend nights.
The restaurant is classified as American but is none of your typical classic American choices. The menu alters frequently but offers a variety of pastas, meats, fish, a raw bar and what I always find the most interesting, the starters. The first time I dined here we ordered a vegetable tempura appetizer that was so unique and satisfying.
Upon my last visit, we ordered the Duck Egg & Shrooms appetizer which I gladly would have had for my meal. The dish, which has been moved to the mains on the menu and renamed “Eggs in a Nest”, consists of grits and wild mushrooms under a legitimate nest of shredded fried potatoes and topped with a soft egg. First of all, the presentation is incredible. Secondly, the flavors are insane. The different types of mushrooms have a great, earthy flavor. Once you break the perfect soft egg on top, the mushrooms become coated in an awesome, smooth, eggy sauce. Plus the crunch of the almost shoe-string like potatoes is a perfect combination.
For our mains, I ordered mussels which came with, surprise, more fries. I always am slightly nervous to order mussels out because I hate when they’re tiny and tasteless and there’s no real way to tell what you’re going to get. These were HUGE. Almost too big. But much better than I was expecting with a great, flavorful broth to accompany them.
He ordered the whole brook trout ($36) with garlic rosemary fingerling potatoes. Presentation, once again, was unique yet not the most efficient for breaking down a whole fish. The meal was delivered on basically a glorified plank of wood. The potatoes were served over a cast iron of wood chips that were lit on fire table side to keep them were. Very cool.
Sadly, we did not partake in dessert as we were too stuffed already. But I did see multiple tables receiving an order of a golden sugar-spun orb like nest that looked amazing. Also, the table next to us ordered a series of mini ice cream cones that were just too cute. Next time.
6 East 18th St.
New York, NY 10003