I just had to drop a line here and tell everyone that the $20 prix fixe lunch this week at Union Pacific is a MUST. I've done about two dozen of the prix fixe lunches over the last two years, at places like Jean-George, Cafe Boulud, and Grammercy Tavern, and this was hands down the best Restaurant Week lunch I've ever had. Each course was just astounding.
I had the appetizer of asparagus with mushrooms and shaved parmesean in vinegrette, which was amazing. The balsamic vinegar was unusually flavored; I couldn't place what had been done with it, but it was a deeper and tastier dish that the simple description would indicate. It was also HUGE, with about eight full-size stalks of asparagus. My date had a similarly large salad with "tart yogurt dressing" which was very unusual and delicious. I had several bites and it was one of the best salads I've had in New York. The lettuce did not appear to be the "baby lettuce" promised on the menu, but what the hell -- it was great. These were probably the two biggest appetizers I've ever had at a upscale NYC restaurant.
We both had the salmon for our entree. It was salt-cured (a Rocco DiSpirito specialty, I believe) and just unbelievably wonderful. I'm a huge salmon fan and it was the best prepared salmon dish I've ever eaten. (I say "prepared" because the simple cedar-planked salmon I've had in Alaska, caught less than 24 hours earlier in the Copper River, is in a league by itself!) Soft as butter on the inside, with a salty and crunchy skin.
For dessert we had the sesame creme brulee, which had a very strong sesame flavor and was just splendid. It was topped with a very tart scoop of grapefruit sorbet which blended well. I'd been wanting that dessert since I saw it on the menu some time ago and it was even better than I'd hoped. The other dessert was a milk chocolate and hazelnut napoleon, which was heavenly, although perhaps a hair less divine than the similar confection at Bouley Bakery.
That was the first time I've ever eaten at UP but it sure won't be the last! I'd always heard the place was good but I hadn't heard it was THAT amazingly wonderful. I was in awe! And I got reservations for lunch the morning of. So go this week -- GO!!!
I'll be eating at a different place each day this week (Chanterelle on Thursday!). I might report on the others too but I find it hard to believe any of them will top UP.