Evan | Mar 12, 200401:48 AM     6

Went tonight for the $25 8-course dinner that my girlfriend and I had read about on Chowhound. Union was already on our list of new places to try, but we were planning on hitting a few other places first, like Lark and Bandol. $25 for 8 courses sold us, though. Kudos to the chef and management for taking that kind of a risk, I hope it pays off for them.

Note that the $25 deal is only available on weekdays.

Our menu was as follows:

Amuse bouche was a beet salad. Not much to say about this, it was fine.

Beef tartare with capers and cornichons. I have recently discovered, much to my surprise as an erstwhile vegetarian, that I love a good tartare. I had it first at Canlis and thoroughly enjoyed it--Union's was very different, but no less tasty. Capers and cornichons provided all kinds of nice pickly notes that didn't overwhelm the beef.

Potato-leek soup with wolffish brandade and Oregon truffles. Yum. There was a citrusy flavor in here; we couldn't decide if it was lemongrass or lemon/lime zest. Neither of us had encountered a citrusy potato-leek soup before; both of us really liked it. Soup was perfectly smooth. I'd never had brandade before--I don't know how to describe it except to say that it's like eating mashed potatoes, only the mashed potatoes are fish. I think there may have been actual potatoes in this brandade as well, and I think it was sitting on a crouton. May not sound good from my description, but it sure was tasty. Oregon truffles didn't seem to add much beyond a visual element.

Striped bass with white bean puree and picholine olives. The fish was cooked wonderfully, with crispy edges and a moist, flaky interior. The olives were minced and sprinkled over the fish and the puree, along with some lemon juice. The combination of flavors and textures was great.

Duck breast with port reduction, oyster mushrooms, and cardamom dust. Duck breast was seasoned perfectly. Oyster mushrooms were slightly crunchy, which bothered my girlfriend a bit. The cardamom dust provided an unusual and nice flavor without drowning out everything else.

Bleu de Gex (raw cow's milk blue cheese) with raisin-walnut bread and frisee salad. This was one of the best pieces of cheese I think I've eaten. Very nutty rind, nice complex flavor. I ate the bread separately; while it was good, I wanted to be able to focus my full attention on the cheese. Frisee salad was sort of boring, but I didn't particularly care at this point because I was practically stoned on cheese.

Grapefruit sorbet with creme fraiche. Grapefruit flavor was on the mild side; mostly tasted creme fraiche. Good.

Vanilla bean panna cotta in pineapple soup with toasted coconut strips. My girlfriend really liked this, I thought it was pretty good. We were expecting it to end up tasting like a pina colada, but the panna cotta was so firm, and the coconut strips were so large and crisp from the toasting, that the flavors remained remarkably distinct.

Service was a little slow at times but nothing ridiculous, and I can't really blame them given the amount of courses they were dealing with. It took us around two hours to get through all eight courses, but that pace certainly helped the digestion.

All in all, I really liked it. And to get all that for $25 if you go on a weekday--can't beat that with a bat.

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