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Union in Seattle

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  • 1 month later...

It's time for soft shell crabs and Union has them. The other night I had a really nice take on the classic soft-shell sandwhich. A crisp crab was served open face atop a thick round of toasted brioche with butter lettuce, roma tomato, thin-sliced onion, and a sauce remoulade.

Get them while they last.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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I have heard uneven things about Union, but my dinner there was exceptional. The service was a little confused, but it didn't ruin dinner at all. I think this may be the type of place you only go to for a long leisurely meal--not a quick in and out one.

Details (and pics!) from my dinner, if you're interested:


Megan Woo


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  • 1 month later...

Had dinner at Union last night. The menu is completely revamped. If you haven't been there in a while, it's probably time you return. :biggrin:

The focus on the tasting menu is gone. The left side of the menu now contains:

appetizers eight selections

pasta three selections

soup two selections

The right side of the menu has:

Fish three selections

meat two selections

game two selections

poultry two selections

Side dishes

five selections, $7 each

I'm sure the quantities of each will be juggled nightly. The menu mentions that Ethan will do a 5 or 7 course tasting menu for the whole table.

We each started off with a glass of N.V. Drappier champagne. This has a very good fizz with notes of citrus and mineral. I'll be searching to add this to my collection.

We first had Crab Salad with avocado salad and basil oil. This classic has always been a favorite of mine.

We then had a split of 2002 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris. A very nice summer sipping-type wine. That is until the second course came along; Sautéed mackerel. This was a great pairing. The lime zest and the Casa Bria olive oil went perfectly with the wine.

Then came another fish dish that we shared and I forget the name of it. :angry: It was served sashimi style on a razor clam shell, drizzled with Casa Bria olive oil, Basque red pepper and chives. The fish had the texture of a raw scallop. If I remember the name I'll edit this post. The smokey pepper contrasted the wine rather well.

Next came Grilled prawns. I haven't had these here before but they were grilled perfectly. They had just enough char to work with the flavors of the previous dish, which contributed to Zind matching.

We then moved into red wine territory. 1998 Grgich Cabernet Sauvignon. I beginning to think the critics were wrong about the 1998 vintage in Napa/Sonoma. True the tannins aren't there like '95, 96' and '97, but the acidity is. I'm starting to notice that of the Napa/Sonoma wines in my collection, the '98s are holding up better than the '97s. Anyway, this Grigich was great! It has a good bottle-age bouquet developing.

The next course was Orechiete Pasta with Grilled Octopus. Good stuff with a tomato sauce and black olives (Niçoise?). Again, this dish matched the wine.

The last of the savory dishes was the Squab on Grilled Figs. It was medium rare (perfect doneness), and glazed with a demi glace. Both of these dishes made the Grgich a correct sellection.

For dessert we had a Cherry Crisp with a quenelle of cognac ice cream. It was served in a cast iron gratin skillet. A rich ending to a rich meal.

Dinner lasted 2.5 hours. It was thoroughly enjoyable and the service was great. If you haven't been there in a while, maybe it's time to return.


I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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I was happy to see the soft-shell crab with brioche, remoulade, butter lettuce, and fresh juicy tomato on the current incarnation of the new menu. It's one of my favorites.

It took me a little while to parse the new menu, mainly because my brain kept thinking I could have all the things on the left or none of them. But I eventually got it.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

A cut and paste belated report w/ photos of my dinner in July at Union Restaurant in downtown Seattle. I will preface it by saying I am a bit biased towards Union, I like Chef Ethan Stowell very much (as do many of us in the PNW!), and have had many good meals here. I enjoyed this one very much, too, and look forward to my next meal there.

Chilled Corn Soup with Truffle Oil - a nice way to start a summer dinner.


Dungeness Crab Salad with Avocado Basil & Watercress. A touch of lemon, too. Light and fresh, and I liked the avocado puree which lightly binded it together). Great flavors and feelings in my mouth while eating this dish!


Chilled Cauliflower Soup with Mushroom (Morels) & Leek Salad and topped w/ Shaved Truffles. Another fresh & summery dish.

Part 1


Chilled Cauliflower Soup with Mushroom (Morels) & Leek Salad and topped w/ Shaved Truffles. (those truffles were a wonderful addition!)

Part 2


Orrechiette Pasta with Grilled Octopus, Ligurian Olives and Parsley

I learned how to make this dish the week before in Ethan's cooking class! This is kind of a filling dish. Great full flavors, but I split this with my husband as I knew I could not eat it all myself, and I don't like to fill up on pasta :rolleyes: .


Hubby's Lamb's Tongue w/ Potato Salad. The 2 bites I had tasted fabulous!


For me: Seared Ahi Tuna with (diced) Green Beans in a butter sauce and sprinkled w/ Red Pepper. Tuna was warm on the outside, rare on the inside, with good texture & delicious.


Roasted Squab with fresh Fig Confiture & Salsa. And more Morels, yum. Sorry the photo is dark.


Strawberry Sorbet with Strawberry Consume


Chocolate Profiterole and Cognac Ice Cream. This ice cream was amazing, as was the chocolate.


We drank a 2003 St. Innocence Pinot Noir Temperance Hill Vinyard.

Going from memory, my favorite bites or dishes that stood above the rest were the Crab Salad (always a favorite), the Lamb's Tongue, and the Cognac Ice cream w/Chocolate Profiterole. :) . On a previous occasion, the Squab was my favorite. They also make an excellent crispy Sea Bass dish.

This is great restaurant, I highly recommend going if you have not been there yet.

Service was also very good. I enjoyed the tempo of our meal, which was not to have long lapses between courses.

Union Restaurant

1400 1st Ave, Seattle (corner of 1st and Union, near Pike Place Mkt).

(206) 838-8000

Some links to other discussions on Union:

Rovers or Union/ Seattle, Fine Dining in Seattle

Sunday Dinners at Union, Oktoberfest and more...

Ethan Stowell (Union) Cooking Class

Pike Place Market, Union, etc...

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  • 4 months later...

I stopped in at Union last night. Joining me was Dana Bickford, the pastry chef from Eva. Well, our bill came and we had a nice surprise....

Ethan is now offering a 25% discount to anyone in the restaurant biz! This was discounted off our entire check, which included drinks. Nice!



Seattle, WA

blog: Seattle Tall Poppy

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I went a couple of weeks ago and had some excellent bites of lamb tongue, mackerel,and veal cheeks. Okay, I give, the food was great. Service, in the bar, at a table...well not my favorite way to go, too easy to be forgotten.

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Lovely evening! After months and months of intending to go, we had our first dinner at Union tonight. Our excuse was needing a place to dine before going to hear Itzahk Perlman conduct Mozart's Requiem at Benaroya Hall (oh, joyful night, that is a story in itself - what a magnificent, piercing concert!)

I had some apprehension about having dinner at Union. From the general buzz, I feared it to might be overly pretentious and a bit of a much-ness. I warned my dining companion to expect vast quantities of perfect white plates enveloping a few bites of artfully arranged, colorfully styled food. Well, yes, that turned out to be true, it was definitely visually All That, but what I couldn't predict was how sublimely sexy and exquistely delicious the food would taste!

Oh, good gracious, when the first tip up of a Totten Oyster slid into my mouth and hit the tip of my tongue and then I bit further into the juicy fresh wisp of metallic rich oysterness it was beyond heavenly. Before ordering, I had questioned our server quite thoroughly, making him promise on a stack of menus that the oysters would be FRESH! He assured me that they would be, but I was still hesitant. No need. I will tell you that I used to live in a cabin on Totten Inlet, ate oysters off the beach, and they were never as good as the 8 oysters that we had tonight. Beyond lovely. If we hadn't been pressed for time, I would have been tempted to ask him to set up another 8!

We also had the avocado/crab appetizer in basil oil that is photographed in one of the above postings. Ours was served with a little top hat tangle of curly white mizuna instead of the watercress in the posting photo, but I can't imagine how it could have been any tastier. Each bite was like pulling away the sexiest food imaginable into my mouth. Quite divine.

My dining companion had the Seared Ahi Tuna with diced Green Beans in butter sauce sprinkled with Red Pepper (also pictured above). The crust of the Ahi was quite salty, but the inside was rare, and the green beans were surprisingly tasty. I couldn't quite place the flavor of the green beans...

I had the Roasted Squab, served with a red wine sauce reduction, and it was accompanied by a tiny black cast iron lidded pot filled to the brim with "Creamed Spinach". I put that in italics because it wasn't like any creamed spinach I have ever eaten! Oh, comfort food, let's hear it for butter and cream and bright green steamed spinach, eh? The squab was tasty, but very strange. Trying to cut it was almost an exercise in futility - I might as well have been sawing away at truck tires - but when I finally managed to wrestle away a bite, it was as tender and flavorful as it could be! What the heck are the physics at play in that phenomenon? My dining companion said I needed to improve my knife skills...or perhaps the knife needed sharpening? Je ne sais pas. But, each bite was well worth the brief wrestle - it just all tasted so good. I had never eaten a squab before, but I believe I may now be too spoiled to have it elsewhere even if I see it on another menu.

We (unfortunately)did not have time for dessert or coffee. Between the two of us, we enjoyed three very deliciuos glasses of wine, a white bordeaux, a French Rhone, and a California Rhone. For some unknown but exceedingly generous reason our delightful server decided to comp our last glass of wine. He was lovely thoughout our meal...informative, friendly, helpful, and honest. I would ask for him in the future, he added a lovely dimension to our memorable dining experience.

So. We will be going back to Union. Entire meal came to $103 before tip. That is more than we typically spend on a meal just for the two of us, but I know we will be back, I want to experience the food again when we can linger longer.

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  • 3 months later...

Last night was our turn to check out Union. I had wanted to try it for some time, mainly because I had heard so much about Chef Stowell's incredible tasting menus. "We're having the tasting menu," I confidently told our waiter (a delightful gentleman named Erik -- I know this not because he introduced himself, but because his hame was on our check). "Actually," he said. "We're not doing those anymore. As of the day after our dinner, the Tasting Menu was still being hyped on Union's web site.


Another reason I was hoping for the tasting menu is that it would mean I wouldn't have to try to read the menu by the light of the tiny candle on our table. Why are so many restaurants so dark? (Cafe Campagne is guilty of the same crime.)

Forging ahead, we decided to make our own tasting menu from the selections in the "First Course" and "Second Course" areas of the menu. We started with the many times aforementioned Dungeness Crab Salad ($13). The crab and avocado were melded as one, their complementary flavors accented by a touch of sea salt and a drizzle of basil oil. The purity of the combined flavors reminded me, in an odd foodly way, of the legendary artichoke-truffle-parmesan soup at Guy Savoy in Paris.

Next we opted for the Pea Soup with Halibut Cake. It is served, in the current style, by placing bowls in front of the diners, empty save for the halibut cake, and pouring the soup over. It was hard to believe that what we both had in front of us was a single split order ($11). It was almost a meal in itself -- and a delicious meal at that, the springy pea flavor intermingling with the delicate fresh halibut in a kind of culinary pas de deux.

Pork Belly ($12) was next. It was like a thick rasher of bacon, though, of course, much less bacony and oh so rich. After commenting on how rich it was, my wife handed me half of her portion. It was flavorful but almost too delicate; I somehow hoped for a more robust flavor.

The Seared Hamachi ($12) was the sole disappointment of the evening. We were expecting the buttery hamachi we know so well from sushi and sashimi, lightly kissed by the heat and richly raw in the center. What we got was cooked through fish, tasty but not special.

The highlight, for me, was the only dish we had from the "Entree" side of the menu: Wild Boar Cheeks with Ricotta Gnocchi and Carrots ($24). (Though why the waiter described the little dumplings and carrots as "kind of primavera" is beyond me.) The meat was unbelievably tender, the result of long, patient braising. The flavor was mild yet assertive, enhanced by a reduction of the braising liquid. Each bite of this dish was a delighful play of flavors and textures, the meat meltingly soft, the gnocchi lightly crisp on the outside and appealingly softly chewy in the middle. It was too bad that my wife had had enough by that point and had to cede most of the dish to me.

The total, with a couple of glasses of wine each, was $123 (after tax but before tip).

Union makes the best of a somewhat odd location, but try to avoid facing the window. The view inside is much nicer than the sometimes strange parade that passes by outside.

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  • 3 months later...

Sunday, July 16. My friend and I went for the happy hour bar menu.


Seared hamachi with sea beans, lemon ($8). Like Jeffo said, I was expecting delicious sashimi-like hamachi and this was cooked more than I expected.


Beef carpaccio with parsley, capers, parmigiano reggiano ($8). Great, capers were a nice touch.


Grilled lamb tongue with baby beets, arugula, red wine dressing ($12). Very similar to beef tongue with more lamb flavor. Excellent, very tender.


Cured ocean trout with caraway crackers, creme fraiche, watercress ($10). Both the trout and the crackers were rather lackluster, especially considering the price.


Tairagai with cucumber, basque red pepper ($14). Crisp texture of tairagai (abductor muscle of razor shell clam) pairs perfectly with cucumber.


Bone marrow on bruschetta. Not on menu. I have never seen a bone marrow dish in any restaurant. Superbly rich, comparable to foie gras.

Photos of menu on my Flickr.

They have one of the best, most sophisticated cocktail menus I have ever seen. Minimalist, nothing too time-consuming but all very smart and original. We enjoyed the Spumoni, Sideswipe, Montmartre and The Sophisticate.

We also had a superb bottle of Unibroue 2004. I'm impressed that they still carried this limited release brew at less than double retail. The beer was wonderful, one of my favorite Unibroue releases. This bottle-fermented ale aged nicely and had a robust and developed flavor with terrific, long-lasting, small bubble carbonation. The label listed the ABV as 10.5% but I'm sure it was a bit higher after more than a year of cellaring. The beer combined with the four cocktails got the two of us quite toasted.

I loved Union and found it to be my favorite of all the restaurants I visited in Seattle. Great, cutting-edge food with a bar of even greater quality. My favorite dishes were the lamb tongue and bone marrow.

That Dungeness crab avocado salad looks great. I'd like to try to duplicate it. What do you think went in there? Was the crab meat finely processed or left in bug chunks?

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That Dungeness crab avocado salad looks great. I'd like to try to duplicate it. What do you think went in there? Was the crab meat finely processed or left in bug chunks?

I've had the Dungeness crab salad many times and love it. I think the crab is shredded or gently pulled apart as opposed to chopped. I always figured it must be a very time consuming job!

Practice Random Acts of Toasting

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  • 2 weeks later...
This might be a stupid question but... is the bar menu available if one is not in the bar? While I'd love to eat it in the bar, and the cocktails sound nice, I'm not 21 and don't have a fake ID (although this might be worth looking for one  :biggrin: )

AFAIK the bar menu is only available in the bar, but perhaps if you called to explain your predicament they might be able to help you out.


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  • 4 months later...

Here is their NYE menu-it's $95/pp+tax and tip.















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  • 1 month later...

No pictures but... OMG, I think we just had EVERYTHING on the menu at union. I was dining with scarlett and 22tango and connie (sorry, I forgot your egullet name) as well as a whole bunch of friends who each knew each other through wierd and intricate contortions.

There was just so much food being passed around it was like sensory overload. The highlight of the evening was probably the pork belly although there were no real duds at all.

It seemed like half of egullet was there that night. We saw rocky, little ms foodie, seagal and I'm probably forgetting a bunch.

Anyway, I have to say I'm definately a fan of union.

PS: I am a guy.

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