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Union Square Cafe

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It was very interesting to hear the mixed reviews that
USC got. Nevertheless, I want to take my boyfriend
there for his birthday (he's curious to see what all
the hype is about). How far in advance do I need to
make reservations (for a Friday night dinner), and how
much approximately should I expect to be spending for
2 people? Thanks!

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  1. For a Friday night, better call 30 days ahead. If they
    can't take you, ask to be put on the waiting list. Make
    another reservation somewhere else so you're covered,
    then call USC (if they don't call you) the day you want
    to go, Chances are you'll get in. Phone staff are
    extremely polite and helpful but if they're booked,
    they're booked.

    Expect to spend about $60-75 each for a dinner with
    wine.

    I'm always amazed by people who are disappointed at
    USC. The waitstaff is professional and helpful and the
    food is terrific. BUT it's not haute cuisine. If you're
    expecting (or hoping for)a fancy food experience, go to
    Lespinasse. USC food is home cooking raised to the
    highest level: great tastes and seasonal ingredients,
    creative ways of preparing familiar dishes, everything
    done just right. Simple things like spinach and steak
    and the best fried calamari anywhere plus a wine list
    with choices from all over at every price level mean
    it's tough to go wrong at USC. I'm sure you'll enjoy
    yourselves.

    1 Reply
    1. re: john

      i think usc is all hype.the food is ok at best,its the
      service and danny myers reputation that carries it.why
      wait to eat at a fair restaurant.

    2. I agree with John on all counts, and would add that I'm always torn between the steak and the duck -- both are delicious. Don't listen to the naysayers; I'm not sure what they're expecting, but neither I nor anyone I've personally known has ever been disappointed in USC. It's a great experience from start to finish. It's not Adventures at the Cutting Edge of Gourmet Dining, nor does it pretend to be. It's just very good food with an excellent wine list and superb service. Enjoy!

      5 Replies
      1. re: steve d.

        Don't listen to the naysayers? When there are as many
        'naysayers' as there are enthusiasts, I would say they
        bear some attention...Union Square Cafe has more than
        its share of detractors.

        However, they do have a superb wine list and the
        service is friendly and attentive...when the drinks
        finally do get to your table. It's not a bad
        restaurant, just an overrated, expensive one. I think
        the final tab far exceeds the dining experience. (But
        another basket of those heavenly garlic chips would
        ease the pain immensely.)

        1. re: Jacqui

          Don't want to get into a "sez who? -- sez me" thing here, but it's simply not true that "there are as many
          'naysayers' as there are enthusiasts" -- I had literally never heard or seen a bad word about the place until some people at NY Press started bitching about it a couple of years back out of their lovable contrarian spirits, and I've never seen a bad word about it on this site until the recent posting that apparently gave a few other naysayers the courage to come out in public. I respect their views, they've obviously had different experiences than I and all the people I know who rave about the place, but they are in a distinct minority and I hope will remain so.

          1. re: steve d.

            steve,

            i know you well from your many posts on chowhound (i
            think you even defended me once from some bully -
            thanks for that), so i'm a bit surprised to see you so
            adamant and a bit defensive here. but i don't agree
            that it's a distinct minority of people here who
            dislike usc. obviously, in the larger scheme of
            things, we would be a minority (usc is rated as the
            NY'ers #1 fave in Zagat, which is why so many people
            take issue with the place, including myself), but as
            for the site I'd say things are pretty much split, and
            that's a good thing so when someone goes there, they
            can pretty much decide for himself/herself with an open
            mind.

            you say you don't want to get into a sez who sez me
            thing but i think if you go back and read your post
            you'll see that that's the way the tone of your post
            reads. anyways, as happens many times out here, let's
            all agree to disagree and not get too caught up in it.


            p.s.-if you check out my post on eleven madison park
            last month, i did mention usc as being overrated.

            peace,

            wonki

            1. re: wonki

              My wife and I recently had dinner there. We really
              enjoyed the entire evening. The hostess was timely and
              courteous. The food was not adventurous but wonderful
              and the waitstaff were superb. I would highly
              reccommend USC.

        2. re: steve d.

          Sorry to say, I've been disappointed at USC, including
          greasy, pre-cooked and barely re-heated chips, slow
          service, and so-so food. Not worth a return trip.