Union Square Cafe with Lorenzo

August 8, 2008 § Leave a comment

Nora, my supervisor (Best boss ever! Wait ’til you hear what she gave me as a goodbye gift), and I originally planned to go toUnion Square Cafe during Restaurant Week, but plans fell through last minute and we never went through with our reservation. It was still the one place I wanted to eat at before the summer was over and I had to go back to Georgetown, so when an old high school friend, Lorenzo, offered to treat me to anywhere I wanted Tuesday…the choice was pretty damn easy.

Let me just say one thing about my friend before I move onto the food. I bumped into Lorenzo again in mid July, when I got onto a PATH train and he shoved his hand in my face as a way of saying hi. Turned out that our internships were located only a couple blocks apart. And even though he makes fun of me all the time and constantly causes my face to look like this -__- , he’s a good person, but that should already be obvious since he paid for lunch.

Anyway, we got to USC at 12 when it was still relatively quiet and were led up these narrow stairs to a small balcony, second floor area where there were only a couple tables. Our waiter was particularly friendly and leapt into service by raving about the day’s specials, but for appetizers, we stuck with the popular and safe fried calamari and spicy anchovy mayonnaise. I think it’s a problem I have, the tendency for me to order whatever deep fried foods there are on an appetizer menu.

First, ambience. Lorenzo had an issue with the nudes on the wall opposite us (What is it with men and bare breasts!? It’s just art!) but when the bread and butter came out, our attention fell on the food. All I can say is USC passed my simple test when the butter was smooth and creamy enough to smear all over that carb-y deliciousness.

The calamari was so LIGHT considering it’s deep fried in batter and then dipped in mayonnaise. It was one of the top, if not the best fried dishes I’ve had. I didn’t really care much for the mayo, it was too thick and didn’t stick well enough to the squid for my taste, but the fritters were seasoned well enough that the lack of sauce didn’t matter.

Our entrees were a refined tuna salad sandwich with garlic potato chips and housemade pappardelle with braised rabbit ragu. I loved my pasta dish. It may not sound like anything particularly spectacular (except maybe the rabbit part), but the simplicity of this dish caused all the elements to stand out. The pasta had a wonderful smooth texture with a slight bite that I loved and the sauce of braised rabbit featured beautifully tender meat and tanginess from the tomato that just made my stomach sigh. =)

I didn’t try the sandwich, but honestly, all I could focus on was the huge mound of garlic potato chips. I snagged a bite and CRRUUUUNCH. More fried, salted goodness. Plus garlic! Ah…all was right with the world.

Our perky waiter saved dessert from becoming a disappointment. Originally, I was leaning towards the Venetian fritelle, but he said, “Um…the customers who order it usually are let down.” But when I asked about the flourless chocolate cake, he unrestrainedly said, “OHMYGOSH MILLION TIMES BETTER!” So what could I do? Plus…chocolate was involved. Oh, and Lorenzo ordered a banana tart with ice cream and brittle.

The chocolate cake was the moistest, richest concoction ever. I was gushing about it the entire time; the coffee zabaglione served next to it helped to cut a bit of the richness. I don’t know how, but it did for me. Bitter vs. sweet, light and airy vs. rich and creamy. GAH. Lorenzo’s tart was a bit too caramelly and sweet for me, but the honey-vanilla ice cream was wonderful. I have a thing for honey ice cream lately. Whenever I go to Haagen Dazs now I order the Honey Vanilla. Long live the Honey Bees!

It was a wonderful way for the beginning of the end. After twelve weeks, my internship in New York was ending (well, it ended yesterday) and I was getting ready to go back to school. Time for goodbyes and email exchanges.

Union Square Cafe
21 East 16th St.



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