This weekend Union Bar and Grille shook things up by changing their menu, presumably to entice more patrons. The new menu is essentially divided into four sections: Snacks ($2-$4), Salads and Appetizers ($6-$12), Main Plates ($15-$24). The menu also has several sides (referred to as xtras) as well as a section noted by a large bold asterisk that includes a few raw options and a daily charcuterie plate. A number of new cocktails have been added, and I think tequila drinkers will definitely enjoy, Conquistador ($9), which is very smooth and fragrant with its citrus and clove garnish.
In an attempt to sample a bit of everything we ordered two “snacks” as the menu refers to them. Maine crabmeat toast ($3) and pork & pickled onion taco ($4). The toast depicted bottom left was good but I preferred the taste of the grilled pork soft tacos which were served as a pair.We followed the “snacks” with another new plate, the squash gnocchi ($12), which is listed as a “first” (a.k.a. appetizers). The buttery sauce combined with squash, “garlic fudge” and fresh cheese was to be my favorite plate of the night. Although this is listed as an appetizer, one could have this and a salad and leave very content for the night. It was refreshing to see so many new options, but I was curious to try the burger which had changed last year (they no longer include the ground sausage) and was one of the few items to be kept on the new menu. I loved their original burger but found it hard to critique the option on the menu now. Union still has one of the best burgers in town (albeit one of the more expensive ones too at $15). We also tried a new entrant to the menu, the bourbon glazed pork chop with rice ($23). I found this the least interesting of all the food we tried and a tad over cooked. While dining we were able to see several other plates served and the other options at least visually were far more interesting. The restaurant’s move is bold considering signature dishes like their 10K Tuna (which I thought to be one of the best in the city) is now gone. Will long-time patrons be pleased with the changes? Will the new menu with a lower price point and more options win over new customers? Its hard to say, but the plates and price point puts Union more in line with many South End restaurants like the South End Gallows, Stephi’s on Tremont and Stella.
Union has a knowledgeable and friendly staff as well as a talented chef in Langlois so I’m hopeful that with a few tweaks the menu will be a hit.
Union is located at 1357 Washington Street (617) 423-0555 Reservations are strongly recommended.