Union and Eastern Standard
I grabbed dinner with a couple friends Thursday night at Union. I have to say, it was a lovely meal. I started out with their grapefruit martini which was just lovely and not too sweet (I don't like really sweet drinks). They had a tasty salad that night of smoked salmon over greens with a mustard vinegarette that I started with. Then a friend and I split the rigatoni with cognac cream sauce and crumbled sausage. The rigatoni was perfectly al dente, the cream sauce was creamy but not too rich. And the portion for me was just perfect. Had I ordered the whole thing myself, I am sure I would have eaten it but felt too full. The service was friendly and efficient. My water glass was never empty and the meal was perfectly timed with enough time in between courses to relax and chat without it being too long. I know the menu here isn't earth shattering, but the food is good and well prepared.
I knocked off of work early last night to meet some friends at the bar at Eastern Standard. Got there just before 5:30 and was surprised to see that even at that early hour the bar and bar tables were for the most part full. I managed to find a seat at the bar and began by ordering a belevedere cosmo which is one of my standard drinks and one by which I measure many bartenders. Unsurprisingly at ES, it was quite good. Glass chilled, lots of fresh lime (none of that sickly sweet Rose's lime) and the perfect light pink. One of my friends arrived and she started with one of the newer drinks on the menu at the recommendation of the bartender, the pisco sour. This drink was quite interesting in that it had frothy egg white in it. Perhaps she will chime in and describe it more fully, since I don't remember all the ingredients. We ordered from the raw bar while we waited for another friend and had a delicous plate of oysters and shrimp. We tried each of the four oysters last night which I enjoyed with just the right amount of salty water in the shell and their very good mignonette. Next I veered away from my cosmo to try something new which was the au provence. This was almost like a gimlet, though not as sour with a touch of tarragon. I'm not always a huge tarragon fan but it's a nice complement in this drink. I ordered a burger for my dinner and boy was it good. Perfectly juicy and medium rare with the right amount of fat in the meat. Their brioche roll is so buttery that it makes this burger quite decadent. We had a great night, with delicous food, expertly mixed cocktails and friendly but efficient service. It's all a reminder of why this place is in our regular rotation.
I love that Pisco Sour. I recently had a decent one at the bar at Solea, the son-of-Dali tapas place on Moody Street in Waltham. It contains pisco -- the national liquor of Peru and Chile (the Bolivians don't make it, but drink a lot of it, too). It's distilled from grapes, kind of a rough, clear brandy. The Pisco Sour has pisco, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, and a dash of bitters (often Angostura). It might remind you a bit of a Margarita made with a rough silver mixto tequila.
On a side note, I was not impressed with the tapas at Solea, which like Tapeo, the other Spanish place run by the son of Dali's owners, closely mimics the Dali menu, though it has some large plates not seen at either of the older places. Simple tapas like chickpea spread served with bread, queso de cabra montañes, the tortilla Española seem much more poorly executed than at Tapeo, which itself is a step down from Dali.
You can get a smaller version of the rigatoni with cream and sausage at Union if you order off the bar menu. I had it Thursday night also and it was excellent. Don't know if the bar menu is available in the main dining room.
Here I am, chiming in. I did really like the pisco sour - it was earthy and slightly tart. I'm not a brandy drinker, so I was wary when Tom suggested it, but I'm glad I tried it. Definitely different. Not something I'd order on a regular basis, but a nice change of pace. Moved from that to the Au Provence, which I LOVE and then finished with my favorite, Jack Rose. For my dinner I had the grilled cheese, which is always delicious. Last night it was especially cheesy and melty - just what I needed. I also thoroughly enjoyed a few bites of Lissy's creamed spinach. The people next to us had some desserts that looked so good I just might have to save room next time: the profiteroles and an earl grey creme brulee.
I'm never disappointed at ES and last night was no exception!