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Jun 19, 1999 09:35 AM

Union Square Cafe

  • d

Went to Union Square Cafe last night for the first
time and my husband and I were both VERY DISAPPOINTED
in the food.

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  1. Could you give us some examples, description, or
    overall why you were disappointed? It's interesting
    to know, always, and for Union Square Cafe I have
    often felt quite different from others for disliking
    it, so it's especially interesting.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Tobey

      Our meals were ordinary. It certainly didn't live up
      to the hype and the high rating in Zagats. My husband
      and I had the soft shell crab special and it was fair.
      Our friends who have been going there a long time,
      thought their food was nothing special. One had
      lambchops, her husband had salmon and he liked it.
      Desserts also nothing speical (strawberry shortcake
      and I forgot what else). The best dessert was the
      complimentary plate of cookies and chocolate. The
      service, however, was excellent. We feel that Danny
      Meyers is spreading himself too thin, with Tabla and
      Eleven Madison Park. As I said before, our friends
      are regulars but this was our first (and last) time.
      It's nice to hear that someone else agrees with me,
      given the positive reviews this place has gotten.

      1. re: debbie

        I have always had great meals at Union Square, but Danny Meyer, I assume, would be among the first to tell you that it was never meant to be anything more than a very good neighborhood restaurant, which it is, with bells on. If the superhigh Zagat rating and the impossibility of getting reservations lead you to expect something on the order of Jean-Georges (or even Meyer's own Gramercy Tavern, which does more or less play in that league), you are inevitably bound to be disappointed.

        1. re: j gold

          I realized I should have specified my own comments. I
          find the restaurant to be synthetic rather than the
          clear product of a cook or chef. I'm not sure this is
          clear, but the fact that all the main dishes are __
          with __,__,and__ (or another __ recently) seems to be
          devised by committee and not particularly apt, often.
          Within their approach, what about finding really good
          ____ in the Greenmarket and presenting just it? This
          doesn't seem to be an option at USC.

          1. re: Tobey

            USC's food does tend to be the work of an aesthetic rather than that of an individual chef, but the restaurant was among the very first to use the greenmarket to its fullest, the ingredients overwhelmingly tend to be local and seasonal, and the food, while occasionally overgarnished, is at heart basic, unornamented and good.

            New York, unlike Berkeley, is not a place where people will pay $9 for a plate of really wonderful buttered peas--for better or worse, people demand the bells and whistles.

            Me, I'm rarely happier in a restaurant than I am sitting at the USC bar on a rainy afternoon with a bowl of bean soup, a great cheeseburger and a really fine glass of Rioja.

            1. re: j gold

              I'm a bit taken aback by this round of USC-bashing -- I don't think it's the best restaurant in the city, but it provides great value for money and I've never had a meal that disappointed me. On the other hand, I haven't eaten there for a while, and I'm beginning to dread the next visit -- could it be headed for the Downhill List?

              1. re: steve d.

                No, I dont think so. I love the food at USC and I've never been disappointed. A friend whose opinion I value finds the place a little too "precious" for her. I wasnt sure what she meant, but reading some of the above comments I am closer to understanding. Yet I've had great food there, and recently. I have only eaten at the bar, but have enjoyed that experience completely, met some interesting people and had my senses blasted by a wonderful foie gras terrine with quince something or other. Nothing downhill about it.

                1. re: Deb Van D

                  I have been both wowed and downed by usc. One night we
                  were sat 45 minutes late, but they brought us free
                  calamari while we waited and gave us a delicious $50
                  bottle of wine. Another time I thought everything
                  tasted like salty butter. Another time the steak was
                  among the best I've had, and another time mushy pork
                  and bad service, with apologies and more free stuff--
                  the place is not cosistant, but can be fun, and when
                  it's poor, they give you goodies...

          2. re: j gold

            To be honest, I wouldn't even call it a very good
            neighborhood restaurant. If you want to talk about
            good neighborhood restaurants and compare, Casimir
            (Avenue B) and Metisse (upper west side) are better
            than Union Square Cafe.

      2. trust me, you are not alone on this one, especially on
        this site. i've said it before and i'll say it again,
        usc is the single most overrated restaurant in nyc.

        1 Reply
        1. re: wonki

          It's good to know that other people feel the same as